Three BIIF Wrestlers Make Finals of HHSAA Wrestling State Championships
Three Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestlers had a shot at making history during Saturday’s Hawaii High School Athletic Federation state championships held at the Blaisdell Arena on Oahu.
Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy the defending state heavyweight champion, Konawaena’s Sage Aoki, 120, and Keaau’s Cheyden Quiocho, 135, all took center stage to wrestle for a state championship.
In the final championship match of the day it was Paleka-Kennedy needing to get by Molokai’s Spencer Basa in order to repeat as state champion as the two largest boys, 285, in the championships took to the mat.
“This one is even sweeter than last year,” Paleka-Kennedy said of his second state crown. “I had a huge target coming into this year’s championship as everyone was after me, so it means so much more to win.”
Paleka-Kennedy won the championship finale by a score of 5-2 earning his points on an escape, a takedown and on technical points when the referee called Basa for stalling.
“I had to work really hard as there was good competition,” Paleka-Kennedy said. “All the hard work, putting in the long hours paid off today.”
Paleka-Kennedy ended his high school athletic career on top as he will shift his focus on other things.
The Warrior senior earned his way into the finals by winning four matches, three by pin and the other on points.
“I will concentrate on football and academics for the rest of the year as I prepare to attend Arizona Western of a football scholarship,” he said.
Aoki, a senior, looked at facing Maryknoll’s Brendan Chang to earn his first ever state championship.
“This was my last chance to win the state championship and I gave it everything I could,” Aoki said. “My sister, Alexandra, finished two state championships as a runner up and I wanted to win it all.”
Aoki went the full three rounds in the finals to earn the victory by a 3 to 1 score.
“I got a take down in the first period using a single leg to earn two points then in the second period got another point when the ref said there was a technical violation,” Aoki said.
Aoki needed to win three matches during the two day tournament to earn the right to face Chang in the finals.
“I wrestled some really good guys and won my matches by take downs using the tilt move,” Aoki said.
The Wildcat credited his judo experience as preparing him to be a better defensive wrestler.
“Judo gave me good defensive skills as I kept my distance when my opponents tried to shoot on me,” he said. “I had seen him (Chang) wrestle and I knew I needed to stay away from being tied up.”
“This was a huge win for me,” Aoki said after the finals. “I had finished fourth last year and I really wanted this one.”
Quiocho had the most pressure on his back as the senior Cougar was attempting to become the first state champion in the school’s history.
“I knew what was at stake and winning the state championship is a goal that I had set coming into the season,” Quiocho said. “I wanted to be the first state champion in our schools history and I worked really hard this season to achieve it.”
Standing in the way of Quiocho’s dream was Mililani’s Chase Tantog as the pair squared off on the mat.
“I tried and gave it my all, so I can’t grumble,” Quiocho said of his second place medal.
The Cougar lost a close battle by a 5 to 2 score and it was his second loss of the season to Tantog.
“He used the same move on me that he did at Leilehua earlier in the season,” he said. “I should have been better prepared when he came at me with using the broom stick move, but I wasn’t ready for it.”
Quiocho earned his way to the finals by winning three matches all in convincing fashion by scores of 16-2, 14-4 and 5-2.
“I wasn’t happy after the finals match but I don’t deserve what I don’t earn,” Quiocho said.
The 2010 HHSAA state champion, Kamehameha’s Megan Aina, 103, lost one match and finished third overall.
“I ended up losing to this year’s state champion from Aiea by two points,” Aina said. “In the third place match I won by a pin in the second round.”
Aina went for her classic chicken wing move in her attempt for the third place medal.
“The chicken wing worked for me the entire season, but when I went for it today it wasn’t there,” she said. “So I had to roll her over and press her down to get the pin.”
Waiakea junior Pat Enos, 152, also claimed a third place medal by a 6-4 score in a sweet victory over Kamehameha-Kapalama’s Andrew Kahalewai who had beat him last year in the HHSAA championships third place match.
“Last year he won by one point and I finished fourth,” Enos said. “I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out because I got the early lead on a takedown and then put him on his back in the second period.”
Kamehameha’s Welina Tong, 175, was the biggest surprise as the first year wrestler lost only one match over the two days to claim a third place medal.
“My only goal was to win the BIIF title, so today was just something extra,” Tong said. “I won four of my matches by pin using just basic, simple moves like the half.”
Other BIIF wrestlers to make it to day two of the HHSAA were:
Konawaena: Justin Raymond 108, Aimee Shiraki 220
Hilo High: Kaylan “Lahi” Kanakanui 140
Kamehameha: Chantel Pohina 130, Jasmine Iuta 155, Sky “Nalu” Kekona Souza 120
Kealakehe: Robin Arellano 114, Allin Franco 140
Waiakea: Kara Nakayama 103, Tanalei Louis 125,
Kau: Keani Mello-Waiwaiole 220
HPA: Troy Choi 215
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