It’s been three long years since a Big Island Interscholastic Federation girl has won a state wrestling title, but that all came to an end this past Sunday as the smallest of eleven weight divisions came up big.
Kamehameha’s Megan Aina, wrestling in the 98 pound lightweight division, worked her way through two days of competition to win the Hawaii High School Athletic Association individual crown at the Baisdell Arena in Honolulu.
Aina, a two time BIIF Champion at 98 pounds, needed to get past Punahou’s Erin Uehara in the championship match to claim the first girls state wrestling championship for the BIIF since Kealakehe’s Renee Michell won it in 2007.
Aina’s final match was a nail-biter as the Warrior sophomore managed to win by a 3-2 decision over Uehara.
“I was shaken prior to the championship match as I was so nervous,” Aina said after winning the state title.
Aina scored the first point of the championship match with an escape in the second period and scored two more later in that period with a takedown.
“I used an arm drag and moved to a single leg snatch to get the takedown,” Aina said. “I was up 3-0 going into the final round when Erin (Uehara) took me down to make the score tight.”
Aina’s weight division included 16 girls from around the state and the versatile wrestler pinned all three of her opponents prior to going against Uehara.
“My sister, Jenna, was very supportive during the tournament,” Aina said. “I wanted to do well and not disappoint anyone.”
For Aina to make it to the championship match she needed to get past St. Andrew’s Priory, Meghan Chun, a formidable opponent that beat Aina during last year’s state tournament.
“Part of Megan’s desire to want to make weight and wrestle in the 98 class was to avenge the lost she had to the St. Andrew’s girl (Chun) that beat her last year,” Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller said.
Waiakea’s Tracy Poch had the second best finish for the BIIF girls, making it into the championship match at 155 and losing to Punahou’s Kaimana Lundquist by fall at 4:44.
Konawaena’s freshman, Tanalei Louis made it into the semi finals in the 125 weigh class to win the bronze by defeating Kahuku’s Kristy Rabaino on a 7-1 decision.
Other BIIF girls medaling at state were:
Konawaena’s Alexandra Aoki, 103, 4th, Danielle Hubbard, 108, 4th,
Kealakehe’s Joylnn Kahala-Minczer, 114, 4th, Jodi Ozaki, 120, 4th
Kamehameha’s Rustee-Ann Johansen, 130, 5th, Kaopua Sutton, 175, 4th and Jenna Aina, 114, 6th.
Honokaa’s Jessica Muskat, 175, 6th.
Punahou won the girls team title for the second year in a row narrowly edging out Kahuku by 2.5 points. Kamehameha-Hawaii finished sixth and Kona eighth to claim high honors for BIIF teams.
“This was the best finish by any Kamehameha-Hawaii team as we previously finished 11th once and 12th last year,” Coach Marlon Miller said. “I’m very proud of all our girls as they worked hard and served as good training partners for each other.”
“I’m happy with our finish, but there were still five schools ahead of us and with the talent we have coming back next year we will focused on trying to win it all,” Miller said. “Our girls are a really tight unit and with mainly freshmen and sophomores the Big Island should be worried about us next year.”
In the boys division it was Kona’s Jimmy Romualdo in the 135 weight class that made it into the championship match. Romualdo took the runner up spot when he defaulted his match to Kamehameha-Oahu’s Jacob Luning-Hoshino.
Honokaa’s three time BIIF champion, Geo Chavez-Pardini, 160, lost his opening match during day one trials, but worked his way through the consolation bracket to win a 5th place medal.
Other BIIF boys winning medals were:
Hawaii Prep’s Keoni Colson, 152, 6th.
Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza, 120, 4th.
Kona’s Sage Aoki, 108, 4th.
Honokaa’s Chris Reed, 285, 4th.
Punahou easily won the boys team crown for the fourth year in a row with 240 points with second place Kamehameha-Oahu scoring 186.5. The top BIIF team was Kona who finished in 15th place.
Forty-two schools, representing five leagues, participated in the two day tournament which needed to be postponed on Saturday due to the Tsunami Alert.
Big Island wrestlers fared well in day one of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association wrestling championships held Friday at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu to advance into Saturday’s semi-finals.
Kamehameha-Keaau advanced a total of five wrestlers, Konawaena four, Waiakea one and Hawaii Prep had one.
For the boys it was Kona’s Sage Aoki, 108, and Jimmy Romualdo, 135, along with Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza, 120, and HPA’s Keoni Colson making it into Saturday’s semis.
For the girls Kamehameha Meghan Aina, 98, Jenna Aina, 114, Rustee-Ann Johansen, 130 and Kaopua Sutton, 175, along with Waiakea’s Tracey Poch, 155, and Kona’s Tamalei Louis, 125, and Alexandra Aoki, 103, make the semis.
All eleven wrestlers are the Big Island Interscholastic Federation individual champions for their respective weight class.
Alexandra Aoki was the BIIF highest state finisher last year finishing with a second place medal.
The big surprise was Honokaa’s Geo Chavez-Pardini, 160, who dropped his opening match during the trials and now needs to work his way through the consolation bracket in order to medal in the top six.
108 – Sage Aoki, Konawaena 114 – Justin Hirae, Kamehameha
120 – Nalu Souza, Kamehameha 125 – Kevin Antolin, Kealakehe
130 – Dillon Cortes, Kealakehe 135 – Jimmy Romualdo, Kona
140 – Tyler Yonemori, Waiakea 145 – Kawika Nihoa, Waiakea
152 – Keoni Colson, HPA 160 – Geo Chavez-Pardini, Honokaa
171 – Kalai Nihau, Honokaa 189 – Kawika Scott, Kona
215 – Tim Eckert, Kealakehe 285 – Chris Reed, Honokaa
98 – Megan Aina, Kamehameha 103 – Alexandra Aoki, Konawaena
108 – Danielle Hubbard, Kona 114 – Jolynn Kahala-Minczer, Kealakehe
120 – Melissa Dumaguin, Kona 125 – Tanalei Louis, Kona
130 – Rustee-Ann Johansen, Kamehameha
140 – Jade Perreira, Honokaa 155 – Tracy Poch, Waiakea
175 – Kaopua Sutton, Kamehameha 220 – Kiana Mello-Waiwaiole, Kau
It is said that “The most difficult part of attaining perfection is finding something to do for an encore.” And for Konawaena’s Alexandra Aoki and Honokaa’s Geo Chavez-Pardini that encore may come this Saturday at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships
Aoki, a senior, will see her BIIF wrestling career come to a close and with it a perfect league record during the past three years of wrestling competition.
Aoki goes into this Saturday’s BIIF championship at Keaau as the three time defending champion in the 103 pound weight class, a division she has dominated by never losing a match since dropping a pair during her freshman year.
“She (Aoki) is very coachable, respectful, a hard worker and a pleasure to be around,” Kona coach Wally Nakashima said.
Aoki made it into the final round of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state wrestling championships last year before dropping a close match to take the runner-up position. This year Aoki is determined to turn things around and bring home a state title.
“It’s not really about me winning all my matches in the BIIF,” Aoki said. “It’s more important that I have quality opponents to wrestle against during the season.”
Aina singled out Kealakehe’s Mindy Lorance and Kamehameha’s Megan Aina as the toughest competition that she had this season.
Eight years of judo and a brown belt has helped Aoki throughout her wrestling career.
“Judo and wrestling are very different in moves, but judo has helped teach me the discipline necessary in any sport,” she said.
Honokaa’s Geo Chavez-Pardini will be concluding his junior season in BIIF competition at the 160 class.
Chavez-Pardini won the 140 weight class as a freshman, the 152 class as a sophomore, and if everything goes as planned will emerge as the BIIF champion at 160.
During his three years of league matches Chavez-Pardini has the distinction of winning every single match, most of which came by pin.
“I’ve gone this far without a loss that it would be disappointing to lose at the BIIF championships,” Chavez-Pardini said. “I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I’m not going to let anything spoil that.”
During the season Chavez-Pardini has faced a variety of Big Island opponents and credits Hawaii Prep’s Keoni Colson as giving him the best competition.
“I wish I could wrestle Keoni (Colson) more often as it benefits me to compete against the best,” Chavez-Pardini said. “Keoni wrestles at 152, so I have a weight advantage, but he is a very good wrestler.”
Aoki and Chavez-Pardini are also talented in the classroom as both have accumulated GPA’s of 3.8 and have made the honor roll for their respective schools numerous times.
On Saturday wrestlers representing 11 BIIF schools will be competing in 25 weight divisions that will produce individual championship crowns for 14 boys and 11 girls.
Kealakehe comes into Keaau as the defending boys and girls team champions and this season will face an uphill battle in their attempt to repeat.
A complex system of points will be awarded during every match depending on how the match is won; pin, tech or major decision and another set of points will be given for first through fourth place finishes in each weight class. The school with the most total number of points accumulated will determine the boys and girls team titles.
“This weeks BIIF championships should be one of the better tournaments in recent years,” Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller said. “No one school is the clear favorite (for the team title) and although both Kealakehe and Honokaa are probably the odds on favorites every school this year has a talent pool of wrestlers that should produce some upsets in the rank and file.”
With Honokaa and Kealakehe being the front runners for the boys team crown Miller believes that Konawaena, Hawaii Prep and Kamehameha could play the role of spoiler.
Honokaa coach Dan Whetstone believes that the boys from HPA, Honokaa and Kealakehe have the talent to produce two to three BIIF champions and all three should be considered the top contenders for the team title.
Most coaches see Kamehameha as having the inside track to win the girls team title as the private school Warriors have wrestlers in all 11 weight classes.
“After Kamehameha I think we (Honokaa) have the next largest squad with eight girls with Kealakehe and Kona both having several outstanding wrestlers and may have enough girls to pull off an upset,” Whetstone said.
Hawaii Prep’s coach, Gary Jarvill, believes the Kamehameha girls have the best chance at winning the team title while the boy’s title is up for grabs.
“The boy’s championship will be much closer with Kealakehe having the biggest team and returning BIIF champions from last year,” Jarvill said. “Every team has at least one or two BIIF number one seeded wrestlers so it will be really close. Kealakehe has 12 of the 14 weight classes covered so it will be hard to displace them this weekend at BIIFs.”
The favorites to win individual BIIF titles for the boys are:
Honokaa: Geo Chavez-Pardini, 160, and Kalai Nihau, 171.
Kona: Sage Aoki, 108, Jimmy Romualdo and Kawika Scott, 189.
Kamehameha: Justin Hirae, 114, and Nalu Souza, 120.
Kealakehe: Dillon Cortes, 130, and Jordan Hao, 285.
HPA: Bronson Kobayashi, 145, Keoni Colson, 152, and Onipaa Stevens, 215.
Keaau: Cheyden Quiocho, 125.
Waiakea: Tyler Yonemori, 140.
Favorites for the girls are:
Kamehameha: Megan Aina, 98, Jenna Aina, 114, Rustee-Ann Johansen, 130, Pomai Pohina, 140, and Kaopua Sutton, 175.
Kona: Alexandra Aoki, 103, Danielle Hubbard, 108, and Tanalei Louis, 125.
Kealakehe: Jodi Ozaki, 120.
Waiakea: Tracy Poch, 155.
Kau: Kiana Mello, 220.
For four decades the Maui Invitational Wrestling Tournament has been the testing grounds for up and coming prep athletes wishing to hone their skills and this past weekend Kamehameha’s Megan Aina made her mark.
Aina, the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion at 98 pounds, moved up a weight class to 103 and took on some of the states best.
“I had three matches and I won my first two by pin,” Aina said. “I used a head snap to get them off balance in the pins which helped me make it into the finals.”
In the finals Aina went against Pac 5 wrestler, Chloe Nagasawa, and won on points, 15-1. “I got most of my points for attempting to pin her on three separate occasions,” Aina said. “She avoided the pin by using bridges.”
After winning the BIIF championships last year at 98 pounds Aina is now faced with figuring out which weight class to compete in as her current weigh is 100 pounds.
“This year I need to decide whether to go with 98 or up to 103 and I’ve been debating the pros and cons,” she said.
“Kamehameha took ten wrestlers to Maui, five boys and five girls,” Warrior coach, Marlon Miller said. “We took some of our more experienced wrestlers to Maui as the cost of travel is expensive and we weren’t able to take everyone.”
Three of Miller’s wrestlers made it into the finals at Maui with Nalu Kekona Souza, 120 lbs., and Kaopua Sutton, 220, taking second place, and Aina, a sophomore, taking top honors.
Kamehameha expected senior Kaopua Sutton to compete in the 175 weight class, but Sutton missed weight by three tenths of a pound and was forced to compete in the heavier division.
“We thought Kaopua had a good chance to win at 175, but at weigh ins she was at 175.3 and needed to be bumped up into the higher weight division,” Miller said.
“We have a very young team this year with fifty percent of our squad being first year wrestlers. I’m excited to see how they’ll do this year and I’ve noticed that they are very eager to learn,” Miller said.
Twenty seven schools were represented at the Maui Invitational which brought in a total of 289 wrestlers.
Kamehameha-Big Island had the highest team finish of any BIIF girl’s teams, placing third overall with only five competitors.
Other BIIF girls making it into the finals were:
Kealakehe’s Jodi Ozaki won the 120 division beating out Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Marie Donahue in the finals.
Konawaena’s Alexandra Aoki (108) and teammate Danielle Hubbard (114) both made it into the finals and took the runner-up spots in the tournament.
For the boys Honokaa’s Geo Chavez-Pardini (160) and Kona’s Jimmy Romualdo (135) captured tournament titles.
Chavez-Pardini is only a junior and is a two time BIIF champion who won the title as a freshman in the 140 class, as a sophomore in the 152 bracket and now is competing at 160.
During the two day tournament on Maui Chavez-Pardini had three matches winning all by pin. “I won my first match in the second round with a chicken wing, half-nelson,” Chavez-Pardini said. “My second match lasted 20 something seconds and I won it using a cradle with a leg.”
In the championship round Chavez-Pardini went against Eric Roth of Mililani and managed to pin his opponent in the first round using a cradle move.
“I think we (Honokaa) have a pretty strong team this year that can compete well in the heavy and lighter weight division,” he said.
Chavez-Pardini stumbled upon wrestling in his freshman year when he tore his rotator cuff prior to the football season. “I was out the entire freshman football season and decided to try wrestling during the off season,” Chavez-Pardini said. “It was a fluke that I happened to find something that I’m good at and now my entire focus is on doing well at wrestling.”
Second place medals were awarded to Hilo’s Wong Ly (140), Kealakehe’s Ralph Ortega (108) and Dillon Cortes (130) along with Honokaa’s Preston Cawagas (171).
Honokaa led the BIIF boy’s teams finishing 8th overall. “We took 12 boys in seven weight divisions and I thought we did really well on Maui,” Dragon coach, Dan Whetstone said.
“Our team exceeded my expectations and they could be one of the best teams in the BIIF, if not the best,” Whetstone said.
Eight BIIF schools made the journey to the Valley Island to go against some of the best grapplers in the state.
Lahainaluna won the boys overall team title and Punahou captured the girl’s crown.
Coach Marlon Miller of Kamehameha recorded all the BIIF wrestlers that made the finals during the Maui Tournament.