What could be sweeter than to win a league title in wrestling? How’s about winning four titles during an illustrious prep career?
Such was the case for Konawaena’s Alexandra Aoki as the senior won her fourth Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling title on Saturday at Keaau while adding layers of icing to her super sweet season.
Aoki, who has not lost a match to a BIIF competitor in more than three years, special day became even more special when her younger brother, Sage Aoki, won the boys 108 weight class.
“This was my last year of high school wrestling so it was our goal to both win at BIIF’s,” Alexandra Aoki said.
Aoki has dominated the league at 103 the past four seasons and during the finals on Saturday pinned Kealakehe’s Mindy Lorance in 58 seconds of the first period to maintain her supremacy.
“I did it today for my dad, Mark,” she said. “It is also Coach Wally’s (Nakashima) last year as head coach and Sage and I wanted to win it for him too.”
Sage Aoki wasted little time in his championship match against Kealakehe’s Ralph Ortega. Aoki opened with several head slaps, and then caught his opponent off guard for an opening period take down before pinning him with 51.3 seconds left in the first period.
“I had a branch modified where I grabbed his arm and flipped him over,” Aoki said of his pin.
Moments after his match the brother and sister were seen on the sidelines embracing each other in their jubilation for reaching their goals.
The Aoki duo is also coached by their father who is a judo sensei and both credit judo with being helpful in their upward spiral in wrestling. Alexandra is a brown belt and Sage carries a purple belt.
Fifty girls and ninety-eight boys representing 11 schools from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation competed during a daylong wrestling tournament at the Keaau High School gym on Saturday to determine who would walk away with individual and team titles.
In the 114 weight class it was Kamehameha’s Justin Hirae going against Laupahoehoe’s Lucky Baun in the championship match.
Hirae came into the title bracket as the two time BIIF title holder and wasted little time getting the first take down and a quick 2-0 lead.
The private school Warrior caught Baun out of position and went for a cradle move.
“I was head hunting and pinned him in a Cadillac,” Hirae said of his third BIIF title.
Hirae’s only loss this season came at the hands of Sage Aoki when the Wildcat was bumped up to the higher weight class earlier in the season.
At the 130 class Kealakehe’s Dillon Cortes took on Keaau’s Jesse Huihui in a battle between two scrappy wrestlers.
The match was a stalemate during the first period as neither could gain the advantage, but Cortes began to open things up late in the 2nd period to gain a 5-0 lead and never looked back.
Cortes won 8-0 and claimed his first BIIF title.
“It feels great,” the senior Waverider said. “I wanted to give it my all this year and it paid off. I needed to push the pace against Jesse (Huihui) which is just what I did.”
A pair of upsets took place when Honokaa’s Jade Perreira pinned Kamehameha’s Pomai Pohina in the girls 140 class and Waiakea’s Kawika Nihoa got past Hawaii Preps Bronson Kobayashi at the boys 145.
Perreira had fallen behind on points during the 3rd period against Pohina by a score of 8-4. With time running out it looked like Pohina had the match in hand, but Perreira reversed the situation by getting Pohina in a chicken wing, half-nelson, and the pin.
“My coach (Dan Whetstone) was yelling at me during the match saying he wanted the pin,” Perreira said. “I never wrestled her before and I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew she was good.”
For the boys it was Warrior Kawika Nihoa upsetting defending BIIF champ and previously unbeaten Ka Makani Bronson Kobayashi.
Both boys were equal throughout the three periods of wrestling and needed to go into overtime when Nihoa claimed the first take down in and the BIIF title.
“This match had to see who had the biggest heart,” Nihoa said after the match. “My coaches pushed me hard to get this far. Winning is all about heart, standing up to pressure and getting a lot of support.”
Kealakehe came into the championships as the defending team title holders for the boys and girls but faced stiff competition from the Honokaa and Kamehameha.
The private school Warriors managed to fill all 11 girl’s weight classes which gave them an advantage in claiming the overall team title.
“I’m really happy for our girls,” third year head coach Marlon Miller said. “I’ve been preaching all year that I want to fry some bigger fish and to focus on the state championship.”
Miller was quick to point out that no outer island team has ever won a state title wrestling and that he’d like to see Kamehameha-Hawaii break that streak.
The Kamehameha girls had seven of their 11 girl’s make it into the title matches which three of them taking BIIF crowns.
“We have 14 of our 16 girls returning next year and I’m real excited about that,” Miller said.
For the boys team crown Kealakehe filled 12 of the 14 divisions leaving vacancies in the 160 and 189 weight classes, but having enough firepower and depth to repeat.
“One of our goals for the year was to win the BIIF team title,” ‘Rider coach Michael Ciotti said. “Another one of our goals is to do well at states and to peak for that tournament.”
“We’re really happy for the kids and we’re pleased that we could repeat by winning the boy’s team championship,” Ciotti said.