Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Some BIIF Wrestlers Flying Under the Radar

Justin Hirae goes for the pin against a Hilo High opponent

  Several Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestlers have been “flying under the radar” according to Waiakea coach Stan Haraguchi and that is just the way the Warriors like it.

   “We’ve been trying to be low key about the season and not really let anyone know how good we are,” Haraguchi said.

   But when it comes to Tracy Poch, Tyler Yonemori, and Dayton Manuel there is no mistake, they are good and this past Saturday at the Waiakea gym the trio displayed why.

Tracy Poch

Poch, a sophomore who wrestles in the 155 class, has made significant strides during the season to command a perfect record.

   On Saturday Poch faced Kamehameha’s Sable Young in first round action and was never seriously threatened during the match, going up by a 15-1 score in the third period before pinning her opponent.

   “I had the top position on Sable and did a half-nelson reversal to get the pin,” Poch said.

  “I’ve been working hard this season and have been following my coaches instructions which have made a big difference from last year.”

   Last season Poch wrestled in the heavyweight division, weighing in at over 200, but a strict diet and structured workouts led to her losing over 50 pounds as she now weighs in at 154.

   Despite being bumped up to higher weight classes during the season Poch has kept her perfect string of wins intact.

  Kamehameha’s Chantel Pohina, the defending BIIF champion at 130 who now competes at 140, bumped up a weight class in order to gain more experience and to face Poch.

   During the match Poch managed a quick take down early in the first period for a 2-0 advantage and during an attempted pin of Pohina tried to use a full-nelson, but was caught and Pohina was given a point for the illegal move.

   During the second period Poch picked up another two points on a reversal and added three more points for a near fall for a 7-1 advantage going into the final period.

   The third period was all Poch as the talented sophomore increased her lead and eventually won by a 14-4 score.

   Tyler Yonemori, in just his first season of wrestling, has quickly risen to the top in the 140 class.

   Yonemori, a quiet and shy young man, is all business once on the mat as he made quick work out of Kamehameha’s Cody Freitas in first round action.

   In his second match of the day Yonemori faced a formidable opponent in Hilo’s Wong Ly.

  Ly took the aggressive position in the opening seconds as he engaged Yonemori in several spinning moves in an attempt to get the first take down, to no avail.

   Yonemori used his judo skills to gain the only take down during the first period and took a 2-0 advantage going into the second period.  Both Ly and Yonemori are extremely talented wrestlers and both managed to protect against any falls, leaving the score at 2-0 going into the third and final period.

   The final period showcased Yonemori’s immense versatility as he scored on two more take downs and a near fall to win by a 9-0 score.  Yonemori declined to be interviewed after his match.


Dayton Manuel

  At only 103 pounds Waiakea’s Dayton Manuel doesn’t look imposing on his competition, but the senior has been quietly leaving his mark in the 108 class.  On Saturday Manuel faced Keaau’s Kainoa Santiago and wrestled flawlessly against his opponent, winning by a 15-0 score in the second period.

   Later Manuel was back on the mat again, this time facing Pahoa’s Austin Dugan, with almost an identical result, winning 15-2.

   “I’ve gotten a lot more serious this year, since it’s my senior year,” Manuel said.  “I have more self determination, I want to do better.  I like mixing it up and working hard has made it more fun for me.”

   Manuel collected two wins on Saturday to raise his season record to 10-2, with one of those loses coming from defending BIIF 108 runner-up, Konawaena’s Sage Aoki.

Justin Hirae

The defending BIIF 108 champ, Kamehameha’s Justin Hirae, is now wrestling at 114 as he continues to dominate that weight class.

   Hirae first went against Hilo’s Jerel Miller and won by a technical 22-7 score.  Later Hirae faced Hilo’s Trent Hashimoto and quickly jumped to a 6-0 first period lead before pinning Hashimoto with 58 seconds left in the period.

   “My best competition at 114 is Lucky (Baun) from Laupahoehoe,” Hirae said.  “I always look forward to wrestling Lucky as he’s really strong and gives me a good workout.  When we face each other it makes us better wrestlers.”

   Baun didn’t show up for the BIIF Westside meet held at Honokaa on Saturday due to basketball commitments, but teammate RJ Espejo at 152 came away with a 2-1 record.

   Hirae’s only defeat this season came from Kona’s Aoki last week as Aoki bumped up from his usual 108 class to face Hirae and came away with a narrow 10-8 victory.

Nalu Souza

Also putting his perfect record on the line was Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza a sophomore at 120.  Souza has yet to lose this season and continued his streak by beating Hilo’s Brenden Branco, 21-6 in the second period, and Waiakea’s Steven Ogi with a second period pin.

   “This year I went to a lot of preseason tournaments and wrestling camps which has helped me to improve,” Souza said.  “Today I was planning to go up a weight class, but my coaches wanted me to stay at 120 and work on take downs and my ground game.”


   Noticeable on the Waiakea mats this past Saturday was former Kamehameha wrestler and now junior official Lauren Pacheco.

   Pacheco graduated in 2009 and has returned as a certified junior official. Given several key matches to officiate on Saturday Pacheco showed no signs of uncertainty and did a great job.

   “I’m having fun doing the officiating, but I’d rather be wrestling,” Pacheco said.

   Head wrestling official, Mike Staszkow, complemented Pacheco for her performance during her first year.

   “We appreciate that Lauren is willing to come back and help us officiate,” Staszkow said.  “Without Lauren we would be short of officials and we’d need to bring someone in from Maui.  I encourage anyone who loves prep wrestling to contact us in order to get certified.”

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aina Family Rules Wrestling Mat

Megan, Charlie and Jenna Aina

In a day filled with back-arches, chicken wings, breakdowns and bridges some of the best grapplers in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation took to the mat.

   This past Saturday wrestlers from Kau, Pahoa, Keaau, Waiakea and Hilo converged at the Viking gym on two mats for daylong excitement among Eastside competition.

   The Aina ohana and Kamehameha had lots to cheer about as Megan (98), Charlie (120) and Jenna (125) all had opening match pins and went on to have a successful overall tournament.

   Megan Aina, the defending BIIF champion at 98 pounds and a brown belt in judo, had little trouble pinning her opponent in the second round to remain undefeated in league matches at the 103 or below weight class.

  “My brother and sister and I all started out doing judo when we were in elementary school,” Megan Aina said.  “I came out for wrestling last season during my freshmen year and Jenna came out to watch and decided to join this year.”

   Jenna Aina is a black belt, shoden, in judo and decided to give wrestling a try in this her senior year.  “I’m actually in the 114 weight class, but they had no one for me to wrestle in that class so I was bumped up to the 125 class.”

   Despite the obvious mismatch in size Jenna Aina still made quick work of her two opponents pinning both in less than 30 seconds.  Aina began the day pinning Kau’s Elena Mello in 19 seconds of the first round.

  During her second match Aina quickly took down Keaau’s Kaysha Kamahele, gaining the top advantage and used her quickness and strength to roll Kamahele for the 29 second pin.

  “I rolled her over with a half nelson and I didn’t expect the quick pin,” Jenna Aina said.  “I just go out there and hope for the best.  Today was just a good learning experience for me on how to set up my opponent.”

   The youngest member of the Aina family, freshman Charlie, a green belt in judo, won his opening match against Waiakea’s Steven Ogi with a second round pin.

   “I like wrestling because it teaches new techniques from that of judo,” Charlie Aina said.  “I still have a lot to learn, but its fun being here with the whole family.”

  Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller had lots to smile about having the three Aina’s take opening day matches.

   “I’ve been trying to get Jenna out for a couple of years,” Miller said.  “Jenna saw her sister wrestle last year and wanted to give it a try in her senior year.  Having the three siblings wrestle for us is a great deal as we get the entire family including the parents.  They are a great family.”

  Besides the Aina trio Kamehameha made a profound impact on the day’s tournament coming up with big wins from several of their athletes.

CJ Matsuyama

Warrior CJ Matsuyama (160) failed to win any matches in his freshman season last year.  Now as an experienced sophomore Matsuyama opened last week with two wins and came into the Hilo gym undefeated.

   In his first match of the day Matsuyama went against Waiakea’s Shane Paredas.  Paredas took the offensive right from the start and attempted a single leg take down, but landed on the wrong shoulder and Matsuyama was able to roll him over to gain the advantage.  With 26 seconds left in the first round Matsuyama capitalized on his opponent’s mistake and won by pin.

   “It’s only been through my hard work with my training partner that I was able to improve,” Matsuyama said.  “It feels great to start winning, but I still have things to learn.”

K. Sutton

Kau freshman Keani Mello brought her perfect 2-0 mark to Hilo in a match between Kamehameha’s Kaopua Sutton in the heavyweight division.

   During the match Mello maintained a good defensive position as she managed to gain the advantage in the first round and nearly pinned Sutton.

    Sutton, a true 175 class wrestler standing at 5’ 9”, had the height advantage over Mello but looked to be in trouble early in the first round against her opponent.

    “I was a little concerned coming into the match,” Sutton said.  “I was also concerned about the weight difference and at one point in the first round I almost got pinned, but I kept my head up and tried to get my hips under me so that I could stand up.”

    Sutton’s speed and quickness prevailed as she was able to pin the Kau freshman with 30 seconds left in the second period.

    “Keani has a really good attitude and is easy to coach,” Kau coach Kevin Rence said. “We only have Keani and two other kids that come out regularly for practice and one of them is her sister, Elena Mello, a junior at 120 pounds and the other is my son Tim Rence at 160.”

   “We don’t have any girls at the heavyweight class, but I have four girls at 175 and each week I’ll move one of them up to compete so that we can fill the higher weight division,” Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller said.

Wong Ly

   Hilo High coach Mike Mandaquit has been low key on one of his wrestlers, Wong Ly, at the start of the season. 

   At the Maui preseason tournament Ly went 3-1, losing by an 8-4 score in the championship round.  The talented senior showcased some of his skills on Saturday as he wrestled Kamehameha freshman Cody Freitas in the 140 weight class.

   Ly wasted no time in the opening round as he immediately went for the take down and scored a quick two points.  Freitas stayed on the defensive trying to escape from Ly without success as Ly used a drop down spin move.

   By the end of the first round Ly was ahead 7-0 and in the second round gained the pin on Freitas.

   “He made me work and he taught me a lesson,” Ly said after the match.  “I should never under estimate my opponent.  He gave me a good match and I think he’ll be good when he’s a senior.”

   “Wong has an injury that he is just coming back from and as the BIIF runner up from last season we have high hopes for him,” Coach Mandaquit said. 

January 10, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment