Three Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestlers had a shot at making history during Saturday’s Hawaii High School Athletic Federation state championships held at the Blaisdell Arena on Oahu.
Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy the defending state heavyweight champion, Konawaena’s Sage Aoki, 120, and Keaau’s Cheyden Quiocho, 135, all took center stage to wrestle for a state championship.
In the final championship match of the day it was Paleka-Kennedy needing to get by Molokai’s Spencer Basa in order to repeat as state champion as the two largest boys, 285, in the championships took to the mat.
“This one is even sweeter than last year,” Paleka-Kennedy said of his second state crown. “I had a huge target coming into this year’s championship as everyone was after me, so it means so much more to win.”
Paleka-Kennedy won the championship finale by a score of 5-2 earning his points on an escape, a takedown and on technical points when the referee called Basa for stalling.
“I had to work really hard as there was good competition,” Paleka-Kennedy said. “All the hard work, putting in the long hours paid off today.”
Paleka-Kennedy ended his high school athletic career on top as he will shift his focus on other things.
The Warrior senior earned his way into the finals by winning four matches, three by pin and the other on points.
“I will concentrate on football and academics for the rest of the year as I prepare to attend Arizona Western of a football scholarship,” he said.
Aoki, a senior, looked at facing Maryknoll’s Brendan Chang to earn his first ever state championship.
“This was my last chance to win the state championship and I gave it everything I could,” Aoki said. “My sister, Alexandra, finished two state championships as a runner up and I wanted to win it all.”
Aoki went the full three rounds in the finals to earn the victory by a 3 to 1 score.
“I got a take down in the first period using a single leg to earn two points then in the second period got another point when the ref said there was a technical violation,” Aoki said.
Aoki needed to win three matches during the two day tournament to earn the right to face Chang in the finals.
“I wrestled some really good guys and won my matches by take downs using the tilt move,” Aoki said.
The Wildcat credited his judo experience as preparing him to be a better defensive wrestler.
“Judo gave me good defensive skills as I kept my distance when my opponents tried to shoot on me,” he said. “I had seen him (Chang) wrestle and I knew I needed to stay away from being tied up.”
“This was a huge win for me,” Aoki said after the finals. “I had finished fourth last year and I really wanted this one.”
Quiocho had the most pressure on his back as the senior Cougar was attempting to become the first state champion in the school’s history.
“I knew what was at stake and winning the state championship is a goal that I had set coming into the season,” Quiocho said. “I wanted to be the first state champion in our schools history and I worked really hard this season to achieve it.”
Standing in the way of Quiocho’s dream was Mililani’s Chase Tantog as the pair squared off on the mat.
“I tried and gave it my all, so I can’t grumble,” Quiocho said of his second place medal.
The Cougar lost a close battle by a 5 to 2 score and it was his second loss of the season to Tantog.
“He used the same move on me that he did at Leilehua earlier in the season,” he said. “I should have been better prepared when he came at me with using the broom stick move, but I wasn’t ready for it.”
Quiocho earned his way to the finals by winning three matches all in convincing fashion by scores of 16-2, 14-4 and 5-2.
“I wasn’t happy after the finals match but I don’t deserve what I don’t earn,” Quiocho said.
The 2010 HHSAA state champion, Kamehameha’s Megan Aina, 103, lost one match and finished third overall.
“I ended up losing to this year’s state champion from Aiea by two points,” Aina said. “In the third place match I won by a pin in the second round.”
Aina went for her classic chicken wing move in her attempt for the third place medal.
“The chicken wing worked for me the entire season, but when I went for it today it wasn’t there,” she said. “So I had to roll her over and press her down to get the pin.”
Waiakea junior Pat Enos, 152, also claimed a third place medal by a 6-4 score in a sweet victory over Kamehameha-Kapalama’s Andrew Kahalewai who had beat him last year in the HHSAA championships third place match.
“Last year he won by one point and I finished fourth,” Enos said. “I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out because I got the early lead on a takedown and then put him on his back in the second period.”
Kamehameha’s Welina Tong, 175, was the biggest surprise as the first year wrestler lost only one match over the two days to claim a third place medal.
“My only goal was to win the BIIF title, so today was just something extra,” Tong said. “I won four of my matches by pin using just basic, simple moves like the half.”
Other BIIF wrestlers to make it to day two of the HHSAA were:
Konawaena: Justin Raymond 108, Aimee Shiraki 220
Hilo High: Kaylan “Lahi” Kanakanui 140
Kamehameha: Chantel Pohina 130, Jasmine Iuta 155, Sky “Nalu” Kekona Souza 120
Kealakehe: Robin Arellano 114, Allin Franco 140
Waiakea: Kara Nakayama 103, Tanalei Louis 125,
Kau: Keani Mello-Waiwaiole 220
HPA: Troy Choi 215
The following 17 Big Island Interscholastic Federation Wrestlers will be on the mat today (3.3.12) in the finals and consolation brackets of the HHSAA state wrestling championships being held on Oahu
Konawaena: Justin Raymond 108 lb
Sage Aoki 120 lb
Aimee Shiraki 220 lb
Hilo High: Kaylan “Lahi” Kanakanui 140 lb
Kamehameha: Megan Aina 103 lb, Chantel Pohina 130 lb, Jasmine Iuta 155 lb, Welina Tong 175 lb
Sky “Nalu” Kekona Souza, Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy 285
Kealakehe: Robin Arellano 114 lb, Allin Franco 140 lb
Keaau: Cheyden Quiocho 135 lb
Waiakea: Kara Nakayama 103 lb, Tanalei Louis 125 lb, Pat Enos
Kau: Keani Mello-Waiwaiole 220 lb
HPA: Troy Choi 215 lb
47TH ANNUAL WRESTLING STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
March 2-3, 2012 – Neal S. Blaisdell Arena
8:30 a.m. Weigh-in
10 a.m. Semifinals and Consolation Rounds 3 & 4
3 p.m. Introductions
4 p.m. Championship, third-place and fifth-place finals
7:30 p.m. Awards ceremony
The top high school wrestlers from across the state will compete in the 47th Annual Chevron/HHSAA Championships, March 2-3 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena. This year’s field includes boys wrestlers in 14 weight classes (in pounds): 108, 114, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215 and 285, and girls wrestlers in 11 weight classes: 98, 103, 108, 114, 120, 125, 130, 140, 155, 175 and 220. (includes 2-pound weight allowance)
Returning individual state champions:
Two boys, Maryknoll’s Cassidy Oshiro (114 pounds) and Punahou’s Todd Murakawa (130), and one girl, Punahou’s Mindy Chow (130), will aim for their third individual state championships. Oshiro won at 108 pounds in 2010 and Murakawa at 125 pounds that same year.
Other defending state champs are Mililani’s Quinn Nagatani (108), ‘Aiea’s Samantha Higa (114) and Darcie Manning O’Brien (175), Mid-Pacific’s Joshua Terao (125), Lahainaluna’s Chanse Uyeda (152), Punahou’s Bryan Peralta (152) and Zach Hernandez (189) and Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy (285). Uyeda won last year’s 145-pound title.
Three girls – Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Megan Aina (103), Kamehameha’s Bree Rapoza (120) and Pearl City’s Sanoe Spencer (220) – won state titles in 2010 but were upset last year.
PAHOA – Experience does matter and the Warriors of Kamehameha took full advantage of their senior power during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation regular wrestling season finale on Saturday at Pahoa Gym.
“We have 12 seniors with 5 boys and 7 girls,” Warrior coach Brendan Courtot said. “Those seniors provide us with a pretty good nucleus, not just in wrestling but in leadership.”
Kamehameha put their senior power to the test, taking advantage of their opponents in a variety of weight classes.
On the girl’s side of the mat Kanoe Padaken (108), Alexia Osburn (140) and Chantel Pohina (130) were priming their skills prior to the BIIF championships which will be held on Feb 18.
Kamehameha girls, the two time defending team champions, left little doubt that they are on a quest for their three peat.
Padaken used a hand and arm to take her opponent down then went for a head squeeze followed by a double chicken wing to win her match by pin in the first round.
Placing third in the BIIF championships last year Padaken uses her experience to boost her confidence.
“This year I am putting everything I have into every match,” Padaken said. “I now have more focus as I try to improve my game plan.”
Padaken, undefeated this season at 108, started the season at 114 but has dropped the weight to help the Warrior weight class balance for another team title.
Pohina won her opening match against a Keaau opponent by a score of 15-7.
“I snapped her down and went for the gator roll, but accidentally put myself on my back,” Pohina said. “
Pohina managed to reverse the mistake by escaping from the bottom position, placing herself back on top, extending a sprawl and kept her opponent down as time ran out.
Pohina’s only BIIF losses this season came at the hands of Waiakea’s Tanalei Louis and Hilo’s Lahi Kanakanui.
“I won all my other matches this season, but lost two to Tanalei and one time to Lahi,” she said. “I think my overall BIIF record is 11-3.”
Last season Pohina wrestled at 155 and placed second in the BIIF. At her current 130 Pohina has an unblemished league record, as her three loses came outside her 130 division.
“I still need to work harder and have a stronger mentality,” she said. “Experience matters as I am the only senior in the 130 division.”
At 140 is Alexia Osburn who won both her Saturday matches on points against Waiakea and Hilo opponents.
“I felt sluggish and wasn’t feeling all that great, but I got the opportunity to get the Waiakea girl for a sprawl and the take down,” Osburn said.
In her second match Osburn used pressure to do wrist rolls on the Viking to claim her second victory of the day.
For the Warrior boys it was seniors Jason Rowland (145) and Ryan Chin (189) fine tuning their skills.
Chin won his first match by pin against a Pahoa opponent, coming in high to get a single leg take down, followed by a half nelson to gain the first round pin.
“I think I can do better,” Chin said. “There is lots of room for improvement as I am not consistent and have my on and off days.”
Chin extended his overall BIIF record to 10-2 and attributes much of his success to having a good attitude and strong work ethic.
“I’m always trying to get better by having better mental imaging and focusing on winning,” Chin said.
Last season Chin placed second in the BIIF in the 215 division and has dropped the weight to make himself more competitive.
Rowland also claimed a first round pin against a Hilo opponent, making the first take down by sprawling out after the Viking took a shot.
“I flipped him over and placed him in a half nelson,” Rowland said. “I have good shots and like to work the double leg while I set up my game plan.”
Warrior teammate CJ Matsuyama (171) needed to sit the day out with a high ankle sprain, but plays an important role in the Kamehameha’s boy’s quest for a team title, according to Coach Courtot.
State heavyweight champion Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy continued his domination while keeping his two year unblemished mark intact by winning his only match of the day at Pahoa.
“Our girl’s team is solid, with our boy’s team needing to give up three weight classes,” Coach Courtot said.
While the Daggers were hosting the Eastside schools Honokaa played host to the Westside as the BIIF season concluded with dual island wide meets.
Two Dragons boys that have been going through the season with mat experience and skill are Christian Silva, 215, and James Marlin at 171.
Silva, who had never won a match last season is an even 8-8 this year.
On Saturday Silva, a junior, went 1-2 getting his lone win by pin in the second round.
“I used a cross grab and flipped him onto his back, then held and pressed,” Silva said. “I lost one at 215 and my other loss came at 285 as my coach (Dan Whetstone) wanted me to bump up to gain more experience.”
Marlin went 2-1 on Saturday, winning both matches by pin, while extending his overall BIIF record to 22-5.
“I won both on second round pins using the cradle in one match and the head and arm in the other,” Marlin said. “My loss was by a score of 11-9 and part of that was because I lost points when the ref called me for stalling.”
Marlin expects to be a contender for the BIIF individual crown, but knows that he stills needs some work with his cardio and speed.
The BIIF individual and team championships will be held on Saturday at Kamehameha with action getting under way at 10 am.
In the land of Giants, opportunities presented itself with a Viking trying to slay the Warrior King.
Kamehameha’s defending heavy weight wrestling state champion, Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, made his way to the mat on Saturday in the final match of the day to face Hilo’s Zachary Atagi in a battle of the 285 pound weight division.
“I’m kind of relaxed,” Atagi said before his match with Paleka-Kennedy. “He has more experience than me and he is the state champion, I am just hoping I don’t tense up.”
To quell his nerves Atagi tells jokes to one of his coaches, Mike Mandaquit, in order to keep his mind off facing the best wrestler in the state.
“I plan on fighting power with power and I can’t let him try to overpower me, as I’m hoping to just wrestling him,” Atagi continued.
Atagi brought an 8-1 record to the mat against the state champion, while Paleka-Kennedy came to the mat with an unblemished 5-0 record winning all of his matches by pins.
“He (Paleka-Kennedy) is just like any other guy, as anybody can win and this is a match that I have been looking forward to.”
Paleka Kennedy sat out the first few weeks of the season because of his fluctuating weight which put him over the 285 limit.
During the match the Viking gave the Warrior every bit of a match going the full three rounds as Paleka-Kennedy won on points by a score of 11-2.
“He (Atagi) is very balanced and had good stand up,” Paleka-Kennedy said after the grueling match. “He was strong and hard to take down.”
Atagi scored his two points with an escape and Paleka-Kennedy scored with three takedowns and escapes.
“I don’t want to be overconfident going into a match and I don’t want to take any one lightly,” Paleka Kennedy said. “He (Atagi) is the best wrestler I’ve faced this season.”
Atagi was ecstatic about his ability to go against the state champion.
“For the most part I’m please to go all three rounds against the best in the state,” Atagi said. “Of course, I would have wanted to win as I go into every match to win.”
Atagi comes from a wrestling family as his dad was a state runner up for Waialua High School on Oahu.
“My dad coached both of my current Hilo High coaches,” Atagi said. “He also helps me a lot, along with my other coaches.”
Viking Coach Alex Kalawe was pleased with his team’s performance as the opportunities presented itself on the mat.
“All of our kids are getting really tough challenges today,” Kalawe said. “Most of the schools are trying to set up the best matches which will go on to making the kids better and more successful later.”
Another Viking, Trent Hashimoto-Noguchi at 130 had his hands full dropping his first match to a Keaau opponent on points.
“I just got tired and didn’t have the energy to finish that first match,” Hashimoto-Noguchi said. “I need to be better prepared by rehydrating and putting some food into myself.”
In his second match Hashimoto-Noguchi rebounding winning by pin in the third round as he used a tilt, gaining control, then pushing his opponent onto his back, bringing his overall BIIF record to 6-4.
The Lady Viks made the most of their opportunities with Kainoe Lee gaining an impressive victory over a talented Kamehameha Jasmine Iuta at 155.
“Jasmine beat me last week and today I won by a score of 8-2,” Lee said. “I came into this match with more confidence and I felt good warming up as I was really motivated.”
Lee’s only two losses this season came at the hands of Iuta as she ran her league record to 8-2.
“I just came in more aggressive than in the past and I wanted to take control,” Lee said. “I was also more relaxed and I know that Jasmine is the best competition that I have in this weight class.”
Teammate Lahi Kanakanui won an exciting match over Waiakea’s Kanani Silva, in overtime.
“The match was tied at 5 all at the end of regulation,” Kanakanui said. “In overtime she (Silva) went for a shot and I sprawled and then circled around for the win.”
While Hilo was hosting an East Division wrestling tournament Hawaii Preparatory Academy hosted the West.
Undefeated in BIIF competition is Ka Makani Troy Choi at 215 who beat both his Honokaa opponents to run his record to 15-0.
“In my first match I wrestled Christian Silva and pinned him in the second round using a duck under and then moving into a backward high crotch,” Choi said. “My second match was against Kainoa Lyman who bumped up from 189.”
“I pinned Kainoa in the third round using a chicken wing, running it to the right and then flipping him onto his back, Choi said.
Choi, a senior, credits most of his success to sticking with the HPA wrestling program for all four years.
“I got beat up as a freshman and paid my dues,” Choi said. “Most of my opponents now are younger and still need to pay their dues as their skill level is below mine.”
Choi was the BIIF runner up last season and looks to vie for the title this year in his weight class.
The BIIF wrestling venue moves to Kealakehe on Saturday with an all schools meet starting at 10 am.