Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Kamehameha’s Paleka-Kennedy wins state heavyweight wrestling title

BIIF heavyweight champ, Paleka-Kennedy, 2nd from left, becomes state champion

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.”

Tanalei Louis

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.

Nalu Souza

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.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“True Warrior’ Wrestling Scrimmage is Scrapped

With two Big Island Interscholastic Federal schools in East Hawaii carrying the same moniker it is often times difficult to distinguish who are the “true Warriors” of Hawaii Island, according to Kamehameha wrestling Coach Marlon Miller.

“We came up with the idea of trying to start a rivalry with Waiakea since both our mascots are Warriors,” Miller said.

Miller got together with the Waiakea wrestling coaches to have a special dual meet between the two schools to be held on Tuesday, Jan 19 at Kamehameha’s Koa’ia gymnasium at 4 pm with the outcome of the meet determining what school is “The True Warrior.”

According to Miller the regular dual meet rules with points kept will apply for both the boys and girls teams.

“After the girls and boys wrestle we will add the points and the team with the higher number will be crowned the ‘True Warrior’ for one year,” Miller said.

A trophy as well as a plaque will be awarded until the following years meet.

“My hope is to grow both programs and peak interest in our sport,” Miller said.

Miller believes the Kamehameha girls have the advantage and that the Waiakea boys are favored in the Warrior Tournament.

“I think that Waiakea has a good shot at winning the BIIF boys team title this year and we are the defending girl’s champions that will make for a very interesting True Warrior tournament,” he said.

Both schools coaches have agreed to wash the vehicles of the winning coaches’ vehicles.

“Right now both teams look pretty even,” Miller said.  “I have the edge on the girls side and they have the edge on the boy’s side, so it can go either way.  I have a Dodge Dually which can get pretty muddy when I want it to.”

But as fate would have it the coaches never got permission from their respective athletic directors and the “True Warrior” wrestling scrimmage has been scrapped.

In a phone interview with Waiakea Athletic Director, Thomas Correa, it was made clear that such a challenge will never take place.

“I would never agree to such a thing,” Correa said.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , | 1 Comment

BIIF Wrestlers Do Well at Officials Meet on Oahu

Kona’s Tanalei Louis proudly displays her 2nd place medal

Waiakea’s Tracy Poch made a name for herself over the weekend as the junior claimed top honors in the 175 pound weight division in what is considered the biggest wrestling tournament in the State of Hawaii.

“I took five boys and two girls over to Oahu to compete in the Officials Wrestling Tournament and Tracy came away with a first place title and Tyler Yonemori took second for the boys’ 145 division,” Waiakea assistant coach Preston Sato said during a phone interview.

“This was the largest wrestling tournament in the state with over 900 participants,” Sato said.  “The event allowed us to test our moves and gain valuable experience.”

The Waiakea coach believes that Poch has the ability to win the state title at 155 or 175 pounds.

“Tracy was second in the state last year at 155,” Sato said.  “She’s learned a lot during the past year and she continues to improve at each practice and she can be tough at either weight division, although we’re going to try to compete her at the 155 division.”

Tracy Poch

“I’ve been working hard during my training this season,” Poch said.  “With effort and good coaching I think I can defend my BIIF title at 155 and win at states.”

Sato returned to Hilo with his athletes on Sunday evening then was planning on leaving Monday to take them to the Maui Tournament.

Yonemori in just his second year of competitive wrestling worked his way through the championship bracket winning his first and third matches by pin and winning his second match by a 10 to 3 score.

“This was a good experience for me and I learned a lot by participating over the weekend,” Yonemori said.  “My only loss was in the finals when I was outscored by Chance Uyeda of Lahainalua.”

Tyler Yonemori

Yonemori the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion at 140 pounds is also a state judo champion and is expected to compete at the higher weight class this season.

Hilo’s Jordan Enos placed third in the 130 division as Viking Coach Alex Kalawe brought three boys and one girl to compete at Leilehua.

“We invited our returnees and those with the best chance for success,” Kalawe said.  “Jordan was our best finisher and our lone girl managed to take fifth place in her division.”

“I had six matches and I won five and lost one,” Enos said.  “My best move was the outside low single where I do a low squat and instead of shooting for the ankles I do a spin around move.”

Enos, now in his senior year, comes to the mat more confident and motivated to do well.

“It’s my senior year and I plan on winning the BIIF at 130 pounds and then place at states,” he said. 

Perennial BIIF boy’s team champions, Kealakehe, also took a squad of six boys along with one girl to compete.

“We need to get more experience and a higher level of competition during a shortened BIIF season,” WaveRider Coach Mike Ciotti said.

Konawaena, sophomore Tanelei Louis, made it all the way to the finals in the 130 bracket before dropping the match to the defending state champion Mindy Chow from Punahou.

“I had three matches prior to facing Mindy,” Louis said.  “I won all three by pin with two coming in a barbed wire and the other in a reverse half.”

Louis, the BIIF champ at 125 as a freshman last year, believes that she will return to that weight class to defend her title.

“I have a lot of confidence from my Dad who works with me and teaches me about wrestling,” she said.

Wildcat teammate Sage Aoki, competing in the 120 class, received a controversial disqualification in his first match for what the officials considered a “slam.”

“We questioned the call,” Kona coach and Sage’s dad, Mark Aoki said.  “We didn’t think that was the right call, but it was considered an opening match loss and Sage was forced into the consolation bracket.”

“I was riding the guy from the back and when he stood up I came in front of him for a double leg flip and he landed on his shoulder and wasn’t able to continue,” Sage Aoki said.

Aoki who won the BIIF title last year at 108 has bulked up to 120 will compete during the season at the higher weight class.

“I wanted to get bigger and stronger so I did a lot of weight training during the summer,” Aoki said.

Aoki had an easy time as he went undefeated during six matches in the consolation bracket to take third place overall during the tournament.

“Despite my first match loss I had a good experience and was able to get in a lot of matches where I could practice a variety of moves,” Aoki said.

Pearl City won the girls team scoring title with Waiakea being the highest scoring BIIF team at 14 place out of 27 teams competing.

For the boys it was Punahou winning with Hilo coming in at 21 out of 32 teams.

December 23, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment