KEAAU – Kamehameha girls and Waiakea boys came away with team titles at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation individual and team wrestling championships, held Saturday at Paiea Gym on the Keaau campus of Kamehameha.
While cross town public and private schools Warriors were winning team championships another Warrior was celebrating several mile markers.
A monumental 18th birthday celebration took place for Kamehameha’s Megan Aina on Saturday as the tough 103 pound wrestler won her fourth Big Island Interscholastic Federation individual title and helped lead her Warrior squad to their third team title.
“This is a very crazy birthday for me,” Aina said. “It is a really big accomplishment in my life and I’m so proud to be part of our team for all four years.
“Winning a team title is all our girls have been talking about for the past two weeks,” Kamehameha Coach Marlon Miller said.
For Miller and his girls this is their third consecutive league team title and their fifth in the last six years.
“I think our biggest advantage is our experience on the mat,” Miller said. “We have lots of seniors, who will be sorely missed.”
Several of Miller’s girls have shared in all three team titles and the coach was quick to point out that this was indeed a team effort.
“It takes the entire team to win a championship,” Miller said. “It’s not about the coaches; it’s entirely about the girls who were on the mat.”
Miller pointed to his well seasoned squad, naming each of the girls that made the difference in each of the 11 weight classes to win yet another team title.
Warrior girls filling each of the weight classes were:
Nellie Towata (98), Aina (103), Kanoe Padaken (108), Sadie Arakaki (114), Phoebe Oda (120), Noelle Pohina 125), Chantel Pohina (130), Alexia Osburn (140), Jasmine Uta (155), Wilna Tong (175), Ciarra Lynn Parinas (220) all made contributions to winning the Warrior team title according to Miller.
Six out of the eight Warrior girls to make the finals won their matches by pin which included Aina, Padaken. Oda, Chantel Pohina, Iuta and Tong.
“Phoebe (Oda) was in one of the toughest weight division and she went undefeated during the season.” Miller said. “She’s a natural leader who pushes everyone on our team to their fullest potential.”
Aina ended her BIIF career by having an undefeated season and in the process won her fourth consecutive individual league crown to go along with the state title she won as a sophomore. But Aina’s match was anything but easy as she went against Waiakea Cara Nakayama in the finals.
“I felt like I had nothing to lose and I left everything on the mat,” Nakayama said.
Nakayama was winning by a score of 4-2 going in the second round, when Aina used her famous chicken wing move to get the pin and secure the victory.
Two other Warrior girls finished the season with an unblemished BIIF record and went on to win individual BIIF titles on Saturday.
Padaken and Chantel Pohina both dominated throughout the season which added to the Warrior blitz in their team title quest.
This was a Sweet three peat for Warrior girls where experience made the difference, according to Miller. Sharing in past team titles six of their eleven girls on the mat are seniors.
“Many of these girls were with us for all three championships, which makes this one extra sweet,” Miller said.
While Miller’s girls were winning their third team title it was Waiakea Coach Stan Haraguchi bring his young Warrior boys to their second consecutive team title.
“Every one of these guys helped us get here,” Haraguchi said. “We are young with lots of sophomores and juniors but we came into the championships confident and humble.”
Waiakea brought eight boys into the finals which consisted of 14 weight classes.
“It takes an entire team effort to win a title and everyone from our coaches to our parents helped us get here,” Haraguchi said.
Waiakea’s Pat Enos dominated the 152 division all season and ended his BIIF season with an unblemished mark.
Enos won three matches on Saturday, all by pin, using a cradle and twice using a gable move to secure each win.
“It feels awesome to win two straight team titles,” Enos said. “Nobody in the league thought that we could win the title, because we are so young, but we pulled it out.”
Teammate William Spain, a 108 sophomore, won his first two matches to earn a spot in the finals before dropping his finale to two time BIIF champion, Konawaena’s Justin Raymond.
“I think last year winning the team title was really good, but this year it is extra special for us since we have so many young guys,” Spain said. “This is a new team and we really stepped up because we knew we could do it.”
Waiakea placed 8 boys in the finals and 2 in the consolation bracket to secure enough team points to narrowly eclipse Kamehameha for the boy’s crown.
“We came in with the right mentality and jelled at the right time,” Haraguchi said. “Everyone just worked together and blended well.”
The Hawaii High School state wrestling championships will be held on March 2 and 3 at the Blaisdell Arena on Oahu.
Big Island wrestlers were well represented in the finals of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championship on Saturday held in Honolulu at the Blaisdell Arena.
“We’re especially pleased with our performance,” an elated Coach Brendan Courtot said of his Kamehameha Warriors.
Heavyweight, Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, weighed in at 284.8 pounds and dominated his 287 weight class to become the Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s lone state champion.
The BIIF had four wrestlers enter the finals to compete for an individual state title.
“Last year our boys had only one wrestler, Nalu Souza, place in the top six as he finished fourth,” Courtot said.
Paleka-Kennedy realized after day one that he had a shot at winning it all.
“Once I won my first two matches on Friday it gave me the confidence to know that I could win the state title,” Paleka-Kennedy said.
In the final match of the day Paleka-Kennedy went against Pearl City’s Devin Ching and managed to pin him during the second round.
“My coaches told me to stay in good position and don’t go chasing,” Paleka-Kennedy said.
The state championship pin came when Paleka-Kennedy used his hips to take his opponent down on his back.
“I used a head and arm move while he was on his back to get the pin,” he said. “Everyone here is an athlete and you have to compete hard to win. I’m very happy I came out on top.”
Along with Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, in the finals were teammates Nalu Souza (122) and Rustee Ann Johansen (132) with Konawaena’s Tanalei Louis, (127).
What stood in the way for Johansen and Louis were the Chow sisters, Chrissy and Mindy, from Punahou.
The Chow’s are state judo champions and also hold co national titles in wrestling. The Big Island girls needed to somehow manage to get past the Chow’s accolades if they were going to win a state title of their own.
Louis, a sophomore who finished third in the state last year, went head to head against Chrissy Chow and gave her everything she had.
The match was probably the best of the day according to Courtot, as Louis and Chow were tied at the end of regulation 3-3.
“I knew her and her reputation prior to going into the match,” Louis said.
Chow got a take down during over time and with it the state title.
“I feel great and well accomplished,” Louis said. “I’m probably the happiest person on earth and I don’t have any regrets about the match.”
Johansen, who placed 5th in the state last year, found herself in the title match needing to out maneuver the more experienced Mindy Chow.
“This is my senior year and I just wanted to do my best,” Johansen said.
During last year’s match Chow pinned Johansen in the first round, so the Warrior was determined to avoid the same fate this year.
“I feel very accomplished,” Johansen said of her technical fall, 15-0, loss to Chow. “She is a lot stronger and quicker than I am, but she couldn’t pin me.”
Despite the loss Johansen felt content with the overall results saying, “I have no regrets.” “I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” she said.
Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza went against Kaiser’s Ryan Nakagawa in a seesaw nail biting match.
At the end of the first round the boys were scoreless with Souza trying to take control on his feet.
“I took the lead at the start of the second round with an escape, but during the third round he took me down and I ended up losing 5-3,” Souza said.
“I feel like I wrestled my hardest and I put everything on the line. He (Nakagawa) was more experienced in competition and that gave him the edge over me,” Souza said.
The only defending state champion representing the Big Island Interscholastic Federation was Kamehameha’s Megan Aina (100) who faltered during the semi finals and found herself winning fifth place.
Other BIIF wrestlers coming away with medals (the top six wrestlers in each of the 14 boys and 11 girl’s weight divisions’ medal) were:
Kamehameha’s Justin Hirae (127) 5th.
Waiakea’s Pat Enos (147) 4th, Tyler Yonemori (142) 3rd, and Tracy Poch (177) 5th.
Hilo’s Jordan Enos (132) 5th and Max Oishi (137) 6th.
Kona’s Sage Aoki (122) 4th.
Keaau’s Cheyden Quiocho (135) 4th.
The Kamehameha boys and girls teams led the BIIF teams in total scoring with a strong finish in overall results.
“I’m excited about our improvement from year to year,” Courtot said. “Once we get to this point there is nothing I can do except worry and add a few more grey hairs.”
The Punahou boys and girls swept the team titles with their boy’s team having now won five consecutive state titles and their girls winning their third straight.
Sisters Leah, Keani and Elena Mello-Waiwaiole have been working hard for the Kau wrestling team during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation season.
Keani is the defending BIIF champion in the 220 weight division, a title that she won last year as a freshman.
“My father, Donald Mello, talks about wrestling and teaches us the moves in the living room of our house,” Keani said. “He graduated from Pahoa in 1992 where he was on the wrestling team and my mom, Stephanie Waiwaiole, was the team statistician.”
The Mello-Waiwaiole family has become well known in the wrestling community where all three sisters, including an up and coming eighth grader continue the ohana tradition.
“I like wrestling and I like to win,” Keani said.
This past Saturday the Trojan grapplers were on the mat at Hilo High trying to hold their own during East Side competition.
Keani wasted no time in her first two matches of the day pinning Hilo’s Kawehi Housman during the first period and later making fast work out of Viking Sharon Manaarpac for another early round pin.
“She was too small,” Keani said after her second win of the day. “They, meet officials, mixed the 175 weight division with the 220 so that we could have some matches.”
Keani’s strength and size was no match for her opposition as she quickly overpowed her opponents for quick victories.
Sisters Elena, 125 pounds, and Leah, 140, weren’t as fortunate as they were on the receiving end of pins.
“I still need to work on my moves and how to get off my back,” Leah said after dropping a match to Hilo’s Hillary Luna.
Elena, an experienced senior, quickly learned what she is lacking in the contact sport.
“I should have been faster and I need to be able to think faster,” Elena said. “I still need to learn to wrestle smarter and after each match I need to move my focus to my next opponent.”
Despite the loss Elena still maintains a winning season record of 8-5 and has high hopes of making the top three during the BIIF championships and a ticket to the state championships.
“Me and my sisters are not shame and people know us in Kau as the girls that hunt,” Elena said.
The youngest of the Mello-Waiwaiole sisters, Leah, had a lot of praise for her families sport.
“I like wrestling because of my dad and because I can put all of my anger into this sport,” Leah said. “I know I still need to work on my moves and how to get off my back.”
Trojan coach Kevin Rence has been out in Kau teaching wrestling, something that he learned growing up in Michigan during his high school days on the mat.
“I’m having fun and we’re starting to build a program out in Kau,” Rence said. “It would be great if we could get a female coach to help teach the moves to these girls as I will usually demonstrate the technique on our only boy wrestler beforehand.”
Rence also needs to contend with outdated wrestling mats, made in the 1950’s, which are too small and difficult at times to work on, according to the coach.
“One of my biggest challenges is to try and raise money so that we can take some of these girls to states next month as I know we’ll have one or two qualifying,” he said.
On the boys side of the mat it was the Enos brothers from Waiakea showing their stuff.
Pat and Patrick Enos has become a workhorse dynamo for the Warriors as Patrick, a senior, competes in the 152 divisions and Pat, a sophomore, at 145.
According to Pat Enos he is one of only a few wrestlers in the BIIF that has gone undefeated during the regular season including matches that he had in the higher weight class.
“I still need to work on my conditioning,” Pat said. “I have high goals of winning both the BIIF and state championships at 145 and then making the Hawaii team that goes to Nationals.”
During his first match of the day Pat Enos took on Pahoa standout Jake Torres and managed to get him in a Zealand move whereby he flipped the Dagger, using his hips for a second round victory.
Patrick, who sat out last season with a broken collar bone, is close to finishing his first full season with the Warriors.
“My coach told me that I have a really good chance of winning BIIF’s and at doing well during the state championships,” Patrick said.
“My only losses this season has come from Hilo’s Jens Beets and I know that I have to beat him if I’m going to win the BIIF title at 152,” he said. “I still need to work on my escapes and on my take down reversals.”
At Hilo gym Beets and Enos matched up again with the same outcome. Enos lead on points during the second period before Beets pinned him with just three seconds remaining.
“I need to practice harder and I need to go in with a game plan,” Patrick said of his loss to Beets.
The BIIF wrestling regular season concludes this Saturday with all schools meeting at Keaau starting at 10 am. The BIIF championships will be held on Feb 5 at Konawaena.
KEAAU – ‘Back to old school style’, is what Pahoa coach Elvis Lum has been preaching to his dozen grapplers during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling season.
Lum, a former BIIF champion in the unlimited weight division (189 pounds and above) in 1995 during his senior year at Pahoa, brings to his Dagger team the philosophy that the basic old school form of wrestling, still works if done correctly.
“A lot of coaches might disagree with me, but I believe in teaching the basics and to teach my team the stuff that works,” Lum said.
The Daggers feature Jake Torres at 145 and Dylan Coffel at 160 as their top two wrestlers as Lum has high hopes of qualifying some of his athletes for the state championships in February.
“We have some kids that could make it to states, but a big part of wrestling is the mental game and we need to get over that hurdle and gain more confidence on the mat,” he said.
This past Saturday the Dagger boys (no girls tried out for wrestling at Pahoa this year) took to the mat at Kamehameha’s Koa’ia gymnasium with schools from the East Side of the island, while West Side schools were wrestling in Honokaa.
Coffel was on the mat against Waiakea’s Jordan Maglinti as both boys battled for position.
“In the beginning I was trying to push him around for points, but I made a mistake when he was in front of me and I pulled him backwards,” Coffel said.
The result was that Maglinti landed on Coffel’s chest which caused an injury and Coffel was pulled from the rest of the meet for safety reasons.
“I won the match by a score of 9 to 6, but wasn’t able to get anymore matches in that day,” Coffel said. “I love wrestling for Pahoa as all the other teams are big and we get the smallest amount of money for our program.”
But despite the shortfalls in numbers and funding Coffel was optimistic in his view of Pahoa wrestling.
“What we lack in money we make up for in heart,” he said. “We have a very good conditioning program and I’m glad I’m here.”
Dagger teammate, Jake Torres, who won the Kealakehe tournament the previous week at 145, was on the mat facing Waiakea’s Pat Enos for the first time.
Torres jumped to a point advantage during the first period, but lost focus during the second and was pinned by Enos.
“I need to work on my sprawl and I need to be faster,” Torres said. “I had the opportunity to win the match but I failed to see the openings at the time and wasn’t able to reverse the situation.”
In the 152 weight class it was Pahoa’s Torin McMurray facing Kamehameha’s Roland Fernandez. McMurray looked to be in total control of the match as he led 10-3 during the second period.
“He (Fernandez) stuck in a half and rolled me over,” McMurray said. “I lost my focus and know I could have done better.”
McMurray was also seen by an athletic trainer and was scratched from the rest of the meet due to injury.
“I got back into coaching to show what I know,” Lum said. “And what I know is the basics, the things that worked in the past still works today.”
Also on the mat for Pahoa was Tiare Mata, but she wasn’t there to wrestle as the recent high school graduate was in training to be a BIIF wrestling official.
“I love the sport and I can’t seem to get away from it,” she said. “Officiating is the closest I can come. Now I need to know the sport and improve on my self confidence to be a good official.
On the girls side it was Hilo’s first year head coach Alex Kalawe that was trying to bring his eight girls into a respectable position.
“We’re young, but we’re coming up,” Kalawe said.
A pair of Viking freshman, Sha Pagan and Kaylan Kanakanui, was on the mat continuing on the learning curve.
Pagan was bumped up from her usually 108 class to the 114 division and on her opening match went against Kau’s Raquel Fields.
“With four seconds left in the first period I managed to drive from the top and put her in a half nelson to get the pin,” she said.
Pagan was introduced to wrestling when some of the boys on the team asked her to come out for the sports.
“This is a fun sport and a good way to express myself,” the Viking cheerleader said. My cheerleading coaches are worried that I might get injured, but all in all they are happy about my playing two sports.”
Hilo’s Kaylan Kanakanui, also a freshman, came out to wrestling after spending a few years watching her brother, Isaiah, wrestle.
“I watched Isaiah, a senior, and thought that I could do that as well,” she said. “I love the sport as I like the vicious contact sports. I’m always trying my hardest and I like the overall conditioning that I get.”
BIIF wrestlers return to the mat on Saturday with divisional meets at Hawaii Prep and Hilo.