To be large, strong and fast are key components in being the best there is on the mat. The Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling season is about to unfold and with it comes the best of them all in the heavyweight division.
Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy stands 6’ 2”, weighs 285 pounds and during last season produced an unblemished record.
Paleka-Kennedy ended the 2010 season with a perfect 15-0 record on the mat and comes into this season as the heavy favorite to defend his BIIF and State crowns.
“I’m kinda excited for this upcoming wrestling season,” Paleka-Kennedy said. “I will give it my all and don’t hold back.”
The state champion stayed in shape during the off season by heading to the Kamehameha campus every morning to work out with his weight lifting conditioning coach, Kimo Weaver.
“I worked out every morning, Monday through Friday, from 6 to 7 am with Coach Weaver,” Paleka-Kennedy said. “I’m hoping to repeat as the BIIF and State Champion because I’ve improved my mental preparation and in the execution phase of wrestling.”
As the high school wrestling season is gearing up to take to the mat Kamehameha has bragging rights to the Big Islands only two returning state champions in both the smallest and largest weight divisions.
They say that good things come in small packages and nothing could be more accurate when talking about the Warrior’s Megan Aina who measures in at 5 feet even and weighs 98 pounds.
The petite Warrior is a bundle of dynamite when it comes to taking on all challengers on the mat. The senior comes in as the three time BIIF champion and was the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state champion during the 2010.
During her sophomore year Aina became the first BIIF girl to win a state individual championship in three years as a competitor in the smallest weight division.
Aina is not new to the state mat as she has slowly progress from a sixth place medal her freshman season to winning the state championship as a sophomore and finished fifth place as a junior last year.
Now in her senior year Aina hopes to return to repeat as BIIF champion and make it back to center stage at the state championships.
“I’d like to win my fourth BIIF title,” Aina said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to stay at 98 or move up to 105 and will make up my mind during the season.”
The Kamehameha girls return as the BIIF team champions which has veteran coach Marlon Miller smiling.
“We have a slew of seniors and juniors this year and as coaches we are very proud of all the accomplishments that our girls have shown on and off the mat,” Miller said.
Behind Kamehameha’s wrestling dynasty is an even further bright future. Besides Aina the Warriors bring to the mat the experience of Alexia Osburn and Kawehi Lopez.
“The class of 2015 has given our wrestling girls a tremendous boost in numbers and as coaches we hope that they will stay together and carry the future of the program with them,” Miller said.
Miller believes that the upcoming BIIF season will be extremely competitive for his girls as other schools have stepped up in their pre season conditioning.
“I believe this season will be one of the strongest for the girls as I’ve noticed how diligent all the schools were in their off season training,” he said. “In keeping in touch over the summer with Kealakehe’s Head Coach Mike Ciotti, I know that the West Side is ready.”
Kamehameha has already set personal goals for each of their wrestlers, according to Miller.
“The coaching staff wants to get our young athletes to believe that they can wrestle beyond high school,” Miller said. “Our only two seniors last year find themselves still wrestling. Rustee Johansen wrestles for Pacific University in Oregon and Justin Hirae attends Iowa State and is trying for a spot on the Cyclones.”
Kamehameha boys coach Brendan Courtot has 17 boys on the roster with six returning seniors.
“We have two champions in Nalu Souza at 120 and AkoakoaPaleka-Kennedy at 285,” Courtot said. “We have one BIIF runner-up in CJ Matuyama at 171 and three third place finishers, Kamalu Wright, 114, Charlie Aina, 130, and Kema Chin, 251.”
The Warrior boy’s team goals are to improve their showing at the state finals in which they placed sixth last season, according to Courtot.
“Our most improved wrestler last season was freshman Kalae Trask-Sharp as the kid worked hard, learned from his mistakes and improved all year long,” Courtot said.
Waiakea boys are the defending boy’s team champions and Coach Stanley Haraguchi has a lot of work ahead as the public school Warriors are caught in a rebuilding season.
“We lost a lot of boys to graduation,” Haraguchi said. “We are what we are as this sport comes with a lot of work and the kids will get out of it what they put into it.”
One of the bright spots for Waiakea comes with returning BIIF champion Pat Enos.
Waiakea girls return two time BIIF champion Tracy Poch at 155 as Coach Preston Sato tries to build the numbers of Warrior participants.
Kau returns defending BIIF champion Kiani Mello-Waiawaiole in the 220 division with Coach Greg Rush having high hopes for the Trojan program.
“We’ve got four girls and three boys,” Rush said. “Our key returnee is Kiani and her goal is the State Championship. We also have two of her younger sisters at 175 and 130.”
Rush is assisted by his wife Hettie along with Dylan Rush as a volunteer coach.
“We guarantee big improvement among the wrestlers and a tougher attitude on the mat,” he said.
Coach Dan Whetstone at Honokaa is not as fortunate as some of the other schools since they return no BIIF champions and bring to the mat a lot of new faces.
“I really can’t predict yet who will be our best wrestlers this year,” Whetstone said. “Maybe after a couple of preseason events I will have a better idea.”
At Hawaii Preparatory Academy Coach Gary Jarvill has high hopes for his two seniors, Shannon Samura at 140 and Troy Choi at 215.
“We have 20 boys and 15 girls this season with no BIIF champions,” Jarvill said.
Hilo’s coach Alex Kalawe has 25 wrestlers on the matt this season, with over half being first time wrestlers.
“We have three returning BIIF runner-ups in Jacob Murphy a senior who will wrestle at 140 this year,” Kalawe said. “On the girls side our runner-ups are Sha Pagan, a sophomore at 108 and Lahi Kanakanui, another sophomore, at 140.”
Kalawe considers this a rebuilding season for the Vikings as many of his wrestlers are still in the learning stages of the sport.
Pahoa coach Elvis Lum has 30 plus athletes coming out for wrestling this season which has the Dagger coach all smiles.
“Everything is up in the air right now as we are trying to figure out what we have,” Lum said. “Our most experienced wrestler and team captain is Jake Torres, a senior, who will either wrestle at the 145 or 152 class.”
Keaau is loaded with numbers as 50 boys and 10 girls have come out for the sport, according to head coach Charles Manning.
“We are really young,” Manning said. “Our BIIF returning champion is Cheyden Quiocho at 135.”
The Cougars are also coached by Elton Lum, who is the brother of Pahoa coach Elvis Lum.
Kealakehe coach Michael Ciotti is optimistic about his chances of competing for the boys and girls team crowns.
“We have 30 boys and 10 girls and they are all tough,” Ciotti said. “We worked hard during the off season and are prepared.”
The Waveriders return boys BIIF champion Robin Arllano at 114 along with girls league champion Destiny Maters also at 114.
As the BIIF wrestling season begins to unfold one of the key areas on the mat is getting qualified officials.
“One of the things that are always needed is trained officials to man our tables,” BIIF Wrestling Official Elton Suganuma said.
“Without good scorekeepers and timekeepers our matches are so much more difficult to manage. When you have to worry if your tables are getting the calls right as a referee, your focus is divided and that is never a good thing. We need interested people who are not affiliated with current teams to train to man our tables,” Suganuma said. “After all don’t our kids deserve the best we can give them?”
Several preseason tournaments are underway with most of the BIIF schools planning to participate at Kealakehe this weekend.
“We are looking forward to hosting the first all schools meet of the season,” Coach Ciotti said. “This first meet is an opportunity to see how we look and how everything is about to unfold.”
KEALAKEKUA – It was all Warriors during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling championships on Saturday.
The Kamehameha girls and Waiakea boys took team titles in a Warrior sweep and left little doubt as to who has the best spread of wrestlers on the island.
Heavily favored Kamehameha lived up to their top billing by winning the girls team title during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling championships, at the Colonel Ellison Onizuka Gymnasium on the campus of Konawaena High School, on Saturday.
Warrior girls took command in the early going, making the finals in seven of the eleven weight classes to claim their second consecutive girl’s team, and third title, in the last four years under Coach Marlon Miller.
“We only brought nine girls and one of them, Kanoe Padaken, dislocated her shoulder during her match or else we would have had eight girls in the finals,” Miller said.
Making it into the finals for Kamehameha were Megan Aina (98), Kawehi Lopez (120), Noelle Pohina (125), Rustee-Ann Johansen (130), Alexia Osburn (140), Chantel Pohina (155) and Jasmine Iuta (175).
The Warriors would go on to win four of the seven finals matches with Aina, Lopez, Johansen and Osburn capturing BIIF titles to clinch the team championships.
“I’m pleased with our second consecutive title, but it’s not going to be as sweet as our third” Miller said. “We started out strong as a team and never lost sight of our goals.”
Miller gave a pre-game talk to his team, telling them that there would only be a Feb. 5, 2011 once in their life, so how do you want to remember it?
Aina, the two time BIIF defending champion and reigning state champion, had little trouble taking her third title as she appears primed to make another run at the state championship.
Facing Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Kela Vargas, the Warrior took an aggressive posture taking Vargas down and staying on top of her during the first period.
During the second period Aina used an arm bar to roll her opponent for the pin.
“I listened to my coaches and just did what they told me to do,” Aina said after the match. “I grabbed her wrist during the roll and it paid off.”
It was Aina’s third consecutive BIIF title and now she shifts her focus on trying to repeat as state champion.
Home crowd favorite, sophomore Tanalei Louis, won her second BIIF title by pinning Kamehameha’s Noelle Pohina in the first round to go undefeated in island competition.
“I believe in myself and my ability,” a confident Louis said. “My dad and family give me the confidence that I need and it helped that I played Pop Warner football growing up.”
Louis finished third in the state last year as a freshmen and believes she can win it all next week in Honolulu.
The boy’s team title was up for grabs going into the final few matches with Kona, Hilo and Waiakea all in contention for the team title.
“With just two matches to go just a half point separates Hilo and Waiakea from winning the boy’s team championship,” Kona statistician Wally Nakashima said.
Waiakea pulled out the narrow margin of victory and Warrior coach Stan Haraguchi was very stoic in his first team title.
“It’s been a while since we’ve won a team title,” Haraguchi said. “We just wanted the kids to do their best and a lot of the credit goes to the coaches and the families that did a good job raising them.”
Haraguchi believed that the Warrior success was due to the team’s ability to peak at the right time.
“They stepped it up at the right time,” he said. “But the season isn’t over as we still have one more week to go.”
One of the leaders for the Waiakea boys was defending BIIF champion Tyler Yonemori who retain his individual title at 140 by beating Kealakehe’s Allin Franco.
“I just wanted to come out and do my best,” Yonemori said. “The entire team worked very hard this entire season and we’re proud to have won the team title.”
For the Kamehameha boys it was Justin Hirae wrestling in the 125 weight division against Hilo’s Brendan Branco.
“I got bumped up in weight and now weigh 124 pounds,” Hirae said. “I’ve been doing a lot of weight training and I wanted to move into a weight division that I felt comfortable at.”
In the process, Hirae won his fourth BIIF individual championship, each coming in different weight divisions.
“During my freshman year I won at 103, then moved up each year to 108, 114 and this year at 125,” Hirae said. “What I’ve accomplished in winning my fourth title anyone can do with a lot of hard work.”
Honokaa’s Geo Chavez-Pardini was able to wrestle most of the season due to a partially torn ACL, but went for his fourth BIIF title on Saturday in the 189 weight class.
“I weighed in at 162, but my coach wanted me to wrestle at 189,” Chavez-Pardini said.
During the finals the Dragon went against Kona’s John Postrano and used his speed to out maneuver his heavier opponent.
“I was super nervous going into the match because he outweighed me,” Chavez-Pardini said. “I used my speed and could take him down easy. When he tried to escape I caught his arm, spun him around for the take down and used a half nelson for the pin.”
The top four boys in each of the 14 weight divisions and top three girls in their 11 weight classes advance to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships to be held on Oahu on Feb. 11 and 12.
BIIF Wrestling Championships at Onizuka Gym
Saturday, Feb. 5 Konawaena High School Final Boys Team Scoring
Waiakea 137.5 Hilo 130 Kona 116.5 Kamehameha 112.5
Kealakehe 106 Honokaa 99 Keaau 70 HPA 57 Pahoa 45 Laupahoehoe 25 Ka’u 0 Kohala 0
108 pounds 1. Justin Raymond, Konawaena 2. William Spain, Waiakea
3. Blake Ahuleki, Kealakehe 4. Serafin Samorano, Keaau
114 pounds 1. Robin Arellano, Kealakehe 2. Warren Buenavista, Konawaena
3. Quitin Wright, Kamehameha 4. Ryan Fujioka, HPA
120 pounds 1. Nalu Souza, Kamehameha 2. Sage Aoki, Konawaena 3. Dan Gampon, Kealakehe 4. Max Hirata, HPA
125 pounds 1. Justin Hirae, Kamehameha 2. Brendan Branco, Hilo
3. Akeno Matsutani, Waiakea 4. Jesse Kihe-Fukuyama, Konawaena
130 pounds 1. Jordan Enos, Hilo 2. Shannon Samura, HPA 3. Charles Aina, Kamehameha 4. Kona Phipps, Konawaena
135 pounds 1. Cheyden Quiocho, Keaau 2. Max Oishi, Hilo 3. Kenneth Pang, Waiakea 4. Caleb Cohan, Pahoa
140 pounds 1. Tyler Yonemori, Waiakea 2. Allin Franco, Kealakehe 3. Jesse Huihui, Keaau 4. Henry Engler, Hilo
145 pounds 1. Pat Enos, Waiakea 2. Jacob Murphy, Hilo 3. Elvis Cardoza, Honokaa 4. Jake Torres, Pahoa
152 pounds 1. Cody Maarsingh, Honokaa 2. Jens Beets, Hilo 3. Patrick Enos, Jr., Waiakea 4. Kileona Manzano, Konawaena
160 pounds 1. Isiah Kanakanui, Hilo 2. Dylan Coffel, Pahoa 3. Jordan Maglinti, Waiakea 4. Russell Laros, HPA
171 pounds 1. Harry Auwelua, Honokaa 2. CJ Matsuyama, Kamehameha 3. Kayed Rodrigues, Waiakea 4. John Genesarin, Konawaena
189 pounds 1. Geo Chavez-Pardini, Honokaa 2. John Postrano, Konawaena 3. Treyven Ahquin-Fely, Keaau 4. Christian Park, Kealakehe
215 pounds 1. Tim Ekert, Kealakehe 2. Troy Choi, HPA 3. Kema Chin, Kamehameha 4. Kainoa Lyman, Honokaa
1. Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, Kamehameha 2. Kekai Obrey, Kealakehe 3. Keanu Showm Laupahoehoe 4. Zephanaiah Pawao, Waiakea
Final Girls Team Scoring
Kamehameha 132 Konawaena 120 Hilo 81.5 Waiakea 60 HPA 48 Ka’u 30 Kealakehe 27 Honokaa 7
98 pounds 1. Megan Aina, Kamehameha 2. Kela Vargas, HPA 3. Christine Presidiaos, Konawaena
103 pounds 1. Sam Neal, HPA 2. Cara Naakayama, Waiakea 3. Jharmine Postrano, Konawaena
108 pounds 1. Haley Delos-Santos, Konawaena 2. Sha Pagan, Hilo 3. Kanoe Padaken, Kamehameha
114 pounds 1. Desting Masters, Kealakehe 2. Jacqueline Moctezuma, Konawaena 3. Phoebe Oda, Kamehameha
120 pounds 1. Kawehi Lopez, Kamehameha 2. Lena Mello-Waiwaiole, Ka’u 3. Kelsi Nishima, HPA
125 pounds 1. Tanalei Louis, Konawaena 2. Noelle Pohina, Kamehameha 3. Hillary Luna, Hilo 4. Kawena Kuamoo-Mendida, Waiakea
130 pounds 1. Rustee Johansen, Kamehameha 2. Melissa Dumaguin, Konawaena 3. Sharrylei Fernandez, Hilo 4. Katie Holdcroft, HPA
140 pounds 1. Alexa Osburn, Kamehameha 2. Kanani Silva, Waiakea 3. Kaylan Kawakami, Hilo 4. Alyssa Cagawas, Honokaa
155 pounds 1. Kainolani Lee, Hilo 2. Chantel Pohina, Kamehameha 3. Kaua Mitchell, Konawaena 4. Allison Felix, Kealakehe
175 pounds 1. Tracy Poch, Waiakea 2. Jasmine Iuta, Kamehameha 3. Kawehi Housman, Hilo 4. Aimee Shiraki, Konawaena
220 pounds 1. Keani Mello-Waiwaiole, Ka’u 2. Sharon Manaarpca, Hilo
Twenty five weight class championship titles are up for grabs this Saturday when Konawaena host the Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling individual and team championships at the Colonel Ellison Onizuka Gymnasium.
Defending girls team champions Kamehameha are considered the heavy favorites to repeat as team champions, but Warriors coach Marlon Miller believes that their standings are overrated.
“Due to our intensity and rigorous demand that one must give in this sport I had a lot of girls drop out during the season, including several returnees,” Miller explained.
Miller believes that other coaches are saying that Kamehameha are the heavy favorites, which is a tactic, to draw attention away from them.
“This past weekend I noticed that Konawaena and Hawaii Preparatory Academy were filling more weight classes than we do,” Miller said. “After having a scrimmage dual meet with Hilo a couple of weeks ago I know they (Hilo) will be contending for the girl’s title also.”
Miller believes that all the private school Warrior girls have the confidence and ability to be State and BIIF champions.
“They all believe in themselves and their teammates,” he said. “If they didn’t I wouldn’t put them out there.”
Rustee-Ann Johansen and Megan Aina are the two returning BIIF champions for the Warriors girl’s team with Aina (a state champion at 98 pounds) going for her third league title.
HPA coach Gary Jarvill still sees Kamehameha as the team to beat for the girl’s crown.
“I am missing four weight classes for BIIF’s,” Jarvill said. “I only have two girls with any experience at all and my most successful girl, Kela Vargas, needs to wrestle Megan (Aina) who is the returning state champion.”
Jarvill believes that Kamehameha is on an easy road to winning another girl’s team title and the Ka Makani coach noted that Kona’s strength is in the weight classes from 120 to 140.
Dominate among the Kona ladies is defending champion Tanalei Louis, 125, who won the BIIF championships as a freshman last season. Louis may be one of the best in the state in her weight class and is considered a heavy favorite to repeat as BIIF champ.
Wildcat teammate Sage Aoki, 108, comes from a rich family tradition in wrestling champions and will also make a run at defending his BIIF title.
“Honokaa’s newest top wrestler is Harry Auweloa. He came to Honokaa this year from Maui, a junior with one year of experience, “said Dragon Coach Dan Whetstone. “He (Auweloa) took 1st place in 189′s in the preseason tournament at Waiakea and then placed first again in the same weight class at the Kealakehe tournament in early January.”
Whetstone believes that Auweloa will drop weight and compete in the 171 bracket as the favorite to win at the BIIF championships as he remains undefeated during the season.
Dragon teammate Geo Chavez-Pardini will be wrestling in only his second tournament of the year but should be the one to beat in 189′s and capture his fourth BIIF title.
“I’m switching some of these kids around as a strategic measure,” Whetstone said. “Geo could actually compete at 171, but we need him in the high weight division.”
Another one of Honokaa’s newcomers is first year senior Elvis Cardoza at the 145 division. Whetstone believes that Cardoza will contend for the BIIF title as he won won all of his matches this past Saturday at Keaau.
Wrestling fans should also watch for a repeat performance from Kau’s heavyweight defending champion, Keani Mello-Waiwaiole who has been dominate in the 220 division.
The main attraction on the girl’s side for Waiakea is Tracy Poch who took top honors at the Officials Wrestling Tournament on Oahu in December and is considered the heavy favorite to win the BIIF crown at 175. Poch is the BIIF champ at 155 last season.
While there is no clear favorite in the race for the boys team title most coaches agree that Kamehameha and Waiakea have a slight edge over the rest of the field.
Kamehameha returns a pair of title defenders in Justin Hirae, 114, and Nalu Souza at 120 while the public school Warriors showcases Tyler Yonemori and the Enos brothers, Pat and Patrick.
“I think it is impossible to pick, even on paper, who will win the boys team title,” Kamehameha boys coach Brendan Courtot said. “No one school has shown real dominance at any of the meets, but Kealakehe is the defending champ, so they have the target on their back.”
According to Courtot several Warriors have been undefeated during the regular season and include CJ Matsuyama, 171, and Akokoa Paleka-Kennedy in the heavy weight division. Despite the unblemished record Courtot feels that they are not well tested because of their missing several key match ups.
“We will be competitive at 114, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 152, 189 and 215 with our best chance to medal coming from our two defending champions (Hirae who will wrestle at 125 and Souza at 120) and two returners Charlie Aina, 130, and Kema Chin at 215,” Courtot said.
Action will get under way in Kona on Saturday at 10 am using three mats as the highly anticipated individual and team champions will not be crowned until later that evening.
Kealakehe Wrestling Tournament Results Boys
108 1. Serafill Samorano- Keaau 2. Blake Aholelei- Kealakehe
3. Kono Kamatule- Kealakehe
114 1. Justin Raymond- Konawaena 2. Robin Arellano- Kealakehe
3. Warren Buenavista- Konawaena
120 1. Nalu Souza- Kamehameha 2. Dan Gampon- Kealakehe
3. Roland Baguso- Kealakehe
125 1. Sage Aoki- Konawaena 2. Justin Hairae- Kamehameha 3. Brenden Branco- Hilo
130 1. Jordan Enos- Hilo 2. Akeno Masutani- Waiakea 3. Michael Raiano- Konawaena
135 1. Shannon Samura- HPA 2. Keoni Rice- Waiakea 3. Kaleb Lukzen- Keeau
140 1. Chayden Quicho- Keaau 2. Allin Franco- Kealakehe 3. Max Oishi- Hilo
145 1. Jake Torres- Pahoa 2. Isaiah Guieb- Kealakehe 3. Aaron Kvenild- Laupahoehoe
152 1. Patrick Enos- Waiakea 2. Jens Beets- Hilo 3. Elvis Condera- Honokaa
160 1. Isaiah Kanakanui- Hilo 2. Ke-von Baun- Keaau 3. Dylan Coffel- Pahoa and Cody Manisingh- Honokaa- Due to the amount of matches
171 1. Kayden Rodrigues- Waiakea 2. Ha’aheo Chan- Keaau 3. Sean Araki- Hilo
189 1. Harry Auweloa – Honokaa 2. Kainoa Lyman – Honokaa 3. Treyven Ah-Quin- Keeau
215 1. John Pstrano- Konawaena 2. Troy Choi- HPA 3. Kekai Obrey- Kealakehe
HWT 1. Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy- Kamehameha 2. Winton Palik- Kealakehe 3. Zephaniah Pavoa- Waiakea