BIIF Wrestling from Konawaena – Who let the Cats Out?
Who let the Cats Out? That’s what wrestlers from around the Big Island Interscholastic Federation were wondering when they exited the Konawaena Gym on Saturday after a grueling day on the mats.The host Wildcats were short on numbers and experience, according to Coach Mark Aoki, but huge on heart and determination as Sage Aoki, 120, Justin Raymond, 108, and Aimee Shiraki, 220, came up with big matches.Shiraki was unstoppable going 3-0 while winning all of her matches by pins against formidable opponents from Kau, Pahoa and Hilo.“I like the outside single move,” Shiraki said. “Sometimes I get too ambitious with my moves and get caught off balance.”Shiraki attributes a great part of her wrestling success to judo as the sophomore comes onto the mat as the BIIF defending judo champion.Judo has definitely helped me in wrestling,” she said. “I like wrestling because it is different and I like the competition and the chance to meet new people.”
Shiraki made it to the state championships last year as a freshman, but missed medaling by one match.
“My goal is to make it back to states this time around and to hopefully medal,” Shiraki said.
Aoki and Raymond are defending BIIF champions and they looked primed to repeat, having extremely competitive matches which should pay big dividends by the end of the season.
Kamehameha sophomore Troy Gibson, wrestling at 135, had a perfect day on the mat winning all three of his matches, two by pin and the other by 17-0 score.
“I beat two Pahoa and one Kona guy,” Gibson said. “My favorite pinning combination is the cradle move, but I still need to work on my cardio.”
According to Gibson he has been building endurance by running on his own before practice and working on his muscle mass by doing weight training with his father.
“I’ve always liked wrestling since middle school because I like the one on one action and there are no excuses when you lose,” Gibson said.
Gibson’s goals for the season are straight forward.
“My goal is to be the best student athlete that I can be,” he said. “I’m not looking beyond just being the best that I can possible be.”
In what is considered the premiere match up of the day it was Kona’s Sage Aoki going against Kamehameha’s Nalu Kekona-Souza.
Aoki is the defending BIIF champion at 108 and bumped up a weight class to challenge the slightly bigger Souza at 125.
“I admire Sage for bumping up to face one of the best wrestlers in the league,” Warrior Coach Brendan Courtot said. “Sage wrestled up to challenge himself and gain better competition.”
The tough match up against Kekona-Souza went the distance with Souza winning on points by a score of 14 to 3.
Kekona-Souza went a perfect 3-0 in Kona and believes that his match up with Aoki was the best that he can find in the BIIF.
“Sage is great competition and when he gets on top he is a hammer as he always comes into the match with the right attitude.”
Kekona-Souza is the two time defending BIIF champion at 120 pounds, but will look to win his third league title at 125.
“I’m hoping to be a three time BIIF champion and to go on to win a state title,” he said. “I came in second at states this past year at 120 and I’m pretty happy with my wrestling performance, but I still want to get better.”
Kekona-Souza is a perfect 6-0 in BIIF completion this season and beat Aoki by using a single leg take down, putting the Wildcat on his back to score enough points to be awarded the tough win.
Also delivering a perfect 3-0 record in the Wildcat gym was Kamehameha’s Charlie Aina in the 130 weight class.
“I had wins against Pahoa, Keaau and Kona with my toughest match coming against the Kona wrestler,” Aina said.
Aina, a junior, won his first match by a 17-2 score and pinned his Keaau opponent before going the distance in his third and final match to scratch out a narrow 4-2 victory.
“In most of my wins I use an ankle pick,” Aina said. “I have good endurance and I have really good conditioning which helped me in my final match on Saturday.”
Aina also comes from a judo background which helps him in his wrestling.
“I condition year round for judo and I run on my own and lift weights on the weekends,” Aina said.
“I’m hoping I can take the BIIF title, but I know I need to improve my attacks as I tend to wait too long,” Aina said.
If Aina’s last name sounds familiar it is because sister, Megan Aina, is a former state wrestling champion who continues to make great strides in her mat performance at Kamehameha.
Present in the Wildcat gym, but staying on the bleachers was Waiakea standout Tanalei Louis at 130. Louis is a perfect 9 and 0 in BIIF competition but decided to sit out at Kona.
“I’m nursing an ear infection and just wanted to watch and cheer on my team,” Louis said. “I should be ready to compete next week when we are at Keaau.”
The BIIF wrestling season continues on Saturday with an all-schools meet at Keaau starting at 10 am.