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.
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.”
BIIF Judo Individual Championships Held Saturday at Konawaena
108 pounds: 1. Justin Raymond, Konawaena; 2. William Spain, Waiakea
114 pounds: 1. Joseph Gaspar, Konawaena; 2. Jove Asagra, Keaau; 3. Dylan Raiano, Konawaena; 4. Kai Leblance, Honokaa; 5. Darrell Alonzo, Keaau; 6. Bradley Pira, Honokaa
121 pounds: 1. Jesse Kihe-Fukuyama, Konawaena; 2. Sheldon Graham, Hilo; 3. Neon Nishimura, Keaau
132 pounds: 1. Ikaika Villanueva, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 2. Kenneth Pang, Waiakea; 3. Charles Aina, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 4. Shon Inouye, Konawaena; 5. Ryan Cominella, Keaau; 6. Conrad Hildebrand, Konawaena
145 pounds: 1. Tyler Yonemori, Waiakea; 2. Jens Beets, Hilo; 3. Jordan Enos, Hilo; 4. Nainoa Akiona, Waiakea; 5. Makana Lee, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 6. Justin Naehu, Keaau
161 pounds: 1. Isaiah Kanakanui, Hilo; 2. Pat Enos, Waiakea; 3. Thomas Soares, Keaau; 4. Elvis Cardoza, Honokaa; 5. Cullen Mento, Hilo; 6. Jaycob Barros, Kamehameha-Hawaii
178 pounds: 1. Sean Arakaki, Hilo; 2. Gunner Nagata, Konawaena; 3. Kayed Rodrigues, Waiakea; 4. Jordan Maglinti, Waiakea; 5. Jade Barraga, Keaau
198 pounds: 1. Brandon Pettefer, Konawaena; 2. Joshua Takiguchi, Hilo; 3. Russell Pacheco, Waiakea; 4. Esaiah Bajo, Kealakehe; 5. Christopher Enojarda, Honokaa
220 pounds: 1. Edward Bedsaul, Kealakehe
275 pounds: 1. Zephaniah Pavao, Waiakea; 2. Hunter Henderson, Kamehameha-Hawaii
98 pounds: 1. Megan Aina, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 2. Tatyana Ducosin, Kamehameha-Hawaii
103 pounds: 1. Journey Udac, Konawaena; 2. Anissa Pira, Honokaa
109 pounds: 1. Seysha-Ann Bondaug, Hilo; 2. Kandy Mento, Kealakehe; 3. Serena Offenbaker, Honokaa
115 pounds: 1. Kanoe Padaken, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 2. Puulena Luuwai-Augustine, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 3. Danajane Jennings, Kealakehe
122 pounds: 1. Phoebe Oda, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 2. Victoria Magana-Lesema, Konawaena; 3. Savannah Brinkmann, St. Joseph
129 pounds: 1. Hillary Luna, Hilo; 2. Chantel Pohina, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 3. Charisse Isabello, Kealakehe; 4. Alison Seo, Honokaa
139 pounds: 1. Lahi Kanakanui, Hilo; 2. Kanani Silva, Waiakea; 3. Chelsi Kualii, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 4. Sharrylei Fernandez, Hilo; 5. Pauline Gampon, Kealakehe
154 pounds: 1. Nissi Flores-Jumalon, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 2. Allison Felix, Kealakehe; 3. Kiley Lapenia, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 4. Tia Kihe-Fukuyama, Konawaena
172 pounds: 1. Aimee Shiraki, Konawaena; 2. Jasmine Iuta, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 3. Sharon Manarpaac, Hilo
220 pounds: 1. Kalika Yamada, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 2. Ariana Matthews, Kealakehe