Kealakehe hosted a Big Island Interscholastic Federation all schools wrestling meet on Saturday and left little doubt that their boy’s team is a contender for the league title this season.
Several of their athletes stepped up to have impressive performances which left a lasting impression on their competition with the season winding down into its final two weeks.
Allin Franco could certainly have been considered the headliner for Kealakehe on Saturday as the 140 pounder went a perfect 4-0 on the day winning three of his matches by pin and the other with an impressive 10-1 victory.
“I try not to tie up in the beginning of my matches and let my opponents come to me,” Franco said. “Once they come in I’ll then take my shot.”
The Waverider senior admits that having more experience plays an important role in his overall success.
“This is my fourth year of wrestling and most of my competition is in their first or second year,” he said.
Franco, the BIIF runner up last season, usually goes for arm drags and then switches to a single before taking down his opponents which leads to a one wrist grab and a tilt that has brought his overall BIIF season record to 14-1.
Continuing the Waverider tradition of talented ‘Rider wrestlers was defending BIIF champion Robin Arellano in the 114 weight division.
“Robin is one of our team captains and certainly will help us in our quest of a team title,” Waverider coach Mike Ciotti said. “He went 3-1 on Saturday and is now 10-1 on the season.”
Arellano, a senior, brings a quick takedown technique to the mat as his success lies in getting that first take down while he pushes the offense.
His three wins came as a result of having a good bar series on top while executing a barbed wire and chicken wing maneuvers.
“Robin has a good arsenal of maneuvers and is quick on his feet,” Ciotti said. “He’s also good at escaping from the down position while he continues to press the pace.”
Waverider teammate Asaiah Guieb, 145, went 3-1, losing his first BIIF match of the season which brings him to an overall 13-1 record.
“I lost a close, 6-5 match to a Waiakea guy that I had previously wrestled during preseason,” Guieb said. “I learned from that match and will come into it next time better prepared.”
Guieb didn’t let his only loss of the year deter his nearly perfect day; winning his three other matches by pin.
“I had an alright day,” Guieb said. “I used basic moves to get my pins and I know how to read my opponents trying to stay a step ahead of them.”
All three of Guieb’s pins came by using the half nelson and a cradle while being able to react quickly to his opponents opening advances and think at a supersonic pace to outmaneuver the competition.
Guieb a senior is determined to challenge for the overall BIIF individual title when it comes up at Kamehameha on February 18.
“I didn’t even place in the top three last year and have not gone on to states,” Guieb said. “But being a senior this year I not only want to win the BIIF title, I’d also like to medal at the state championships.”
Guieb contributes much of his success this season to doing extra training on his own, after practice.
“I run on my own everyday and lift weights three times a week on my own,” he said.
Teammate Dan Gampon, 120, is faced each week at being in one of the toughest divisions in the BIIF.
Gampon carries a 13-5 overall season record. His only loses has come from the defending BIIF champion Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza, and the BIIF runner up Konawaena’s Sage Aoki.
On Saturday Gampon had four matches going 3-1 with his only loss to Aoki by a 13-5 score.
“I feel pretty honored to be in one of the toughest weight classes,” Gampon said. “Nalu and Sage make me better every time I wrestle because I learn from them and they teach me a lot.”
Gampon’s three wins came from impressive scores against Hilo, winning by 15 points, Keaau 13-5, and Honokaa, 12-6, opponents.
“I still need to find that one little thing that is missing,” Gampon said. “I need to raise my confidence level and believe in myself.”
Gampon, a gritty wrestler, who often raises his level of intensity by being aggressive in his matches, has raised his level to one of the best at 120.
“Competition is the best thing about wrestling,” he said. “This weight class brings out the best in me.”
The Waveriders boy’s team seems to have the balance and numbers to be a possible contender this season for the team title.
Coach Ciotti was pleased with his overall team performance and he gave kudos to their grit and determination.
“We have a solid team from top to bottom that is committed,” Ciotti said. “We carry 25 boys and 8 girls and I believe we are a contender for the boy’s team title.”
Ciotti needed to split his time between hosting the all schools meet and coaching while trying to provide three matches to the 100 boys and 50 girls that were there to wrestle.
“It was hard for me to actually coach today, but what I saw from our kids is that they are starting to show toughness at the right point in the season,” Ciotti said.
Despite the difficulty of hosting an all schools meet Ciotti benefited from the advantage of being home.
“We don’t have to get up early in the morning and travel several hours, which means the kids can sleep in and wrestling in a familiar place in front of their home crowd,” Ciotti said.
The BIIF venue moves to an East/West format on Saturday with Pahoa hosting the East side and Honokaa hosting the West.