Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

BIIF Wrestling Season about to take to the Mat – League Preview

Paleka-Kennedy

To be large, strong and fast are key components in being the best there is on the mat. The Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling season is about to unfold and with it comes the best of them all in the heavyweight division.

Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy stands 6’ 2”, weighs 285 pounds and during last season produced an unblemished record.

Paleka-Kennedy ended the 2010 season with a perfect 15-0 record on the mat and comes into this season as the heavy favorite to defend his BIIF and State crowns.

“I’m kinda excited for this upcoming wrestling season,” Paleka-Kennedy said.  “I will give it my all and don’t hold back.”

The state champion stayed in shape during the off season by heading to the Kamehameha campus every morning to work out with his weight lifting conditioning coach, Kimo Weaver.

“I worked out every morning, Monday through Friday, from 6 to 7 am with Coach Weaver,” Paleka-Kennedy said.  “I’m hoping to repeat as the BIIF and State Champion because I’ve improved my mental preparation and in the execution phase of wrestling.”

As the high school wrestling season is gearing up to take to the mat Kamehameha has bragging rights to the Big Islands only two returning state champions in both the smallest and largest weight divisions.

Aina with Coach Miller

They say that good things come in small packages and nothing could be more accurate when talking about the Warrior’s Megan Aina who measures in at 5 feet even and weighs 98 pounds.

The petite Warrior is a bundle of dynamite when it comes to taking on all challengers on the mat. The senior comes in as the three time BIIF champion and was the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state champion during the 2010.

During her sophomore year Aina became the first BIIF girl to win a state individual championship in three years as a competitor in the smallest weight division.

Aina is not new to the state mat as she has slowly progress from a sixth place medal her freshman season to winning the state championship as a sophomore and finished fifth place as a junior last year.

Now in her senior year Aina hopes to return to repeat as BIIF champion and make it back to center stage at the state championships.

“I’d like to win my fourth BIIF title,” Aina said.  “I’m not sure if I’m going to stay at 98 or move up to 105 and will make up my mind during the season.”

The Kamehameha girls return as the BIIF team champions which has veteran coach Marlon Miller smiling.

“We have a slew of seniors and juniors this year and as coaches we are very proud of all the accomplishments that our girls have shown on and off the mat,” Miller said.

Behind Kamehameha’s wrestling dynasty is an even further bright future.  Besides Aina the Warriors bring to the mat the experience of Alexia Osburn and Kawehi Lopez.

“The class of 2015 has given our wrestling girls a tremendous boost in numbers and as coaches we hope that they will stay together and carry the future of the program with them,” Miller said.

Miller believes that the upcoming BIIF season will be extremely competitive for his girls as other schools have stepped up in their pre season conditioning.

“I believe this season will be one of the strongest for the girls as I’ve noticed how diligent all the schools were in their off season training,” he said.  “In keeping in touch over the summer with Kealakehe’s Head Coach Mike Ciotti, I know that the West Side is ready.”

Kamehameha has already set personal goals for each of their wrestlers, according to Miller. 

“The coaching staff wants to get our young athletes to believe that they can wrestle beyond high school,” Miller said.  “Our only two seniors last year find themselves still wrestling.  Rustee Johansen wrestles for Pacific University in Oregon and Justin Hirae attends Iowa State and is trying for a spot on the Cyclones.”

Kamehameha boys coach Brendan Courtot has 17 boys on the roster with six returning seniors.

“We have two champions in Nalu Souza at 120 and AkoakoaPaleka-Kennedy at 285,” Courtot said.  “We have one BIIF runner-up in CJ Matuyama at 171 and three third place finishers, Kamalu Wright, 114, Charlie Aina, 130, and Kema Chin, 251.”

The Warrior boy’s team goals are to improve their showing at the state finals in which they placed sixth last season, according to Courtot.

“Our most improved wrestler last season was freshman Kalae Trask-Sharp as the kid worked hard, learned from his mistakes and improved all year long,” Courtot said.

Waiakea boys are the defending boy’s team champions and Coach Stanley Haraguchi has a lot of work ahead as the public school Warriors are caught in a rebuilding season.

“We lost a lot of boys to graduation,” Haraguchi said.  “We are what we are as this sport comes with a lot of work and the kids will get out of it what they put into it.”

One of the bright spots for Waiakea comes with returning BIIF champion Pat Enos.

Waiakea girls return two time BIIF champion Tracy Poch at 155 as Coach Preston Sato tries to build the numbers of Warrior participants.

Kau returns defending BIIF champion Kiani Mello-Waiawaiole in the 220 division with Coach Greg Rush having high hopes for the Trojan program.

“We’ve got four girls and three boys,” Rush said.  “Our key returnee is Kiani and her goal is the State Championship.  We also have two of her younger sisters at 175 and 130.”

Rush is assisted by his wife Hettie along with Dylan Rush as a volunteer coach.

“We guarantee big improvement among the wrestlers and a tougher attitude on the mat,” he said.

Coach Dan Whetstone at Honokaa is not as fortunate as some of the other schools since they return no BIIF champions and bring to the mat a lot of new faces.

“I really can’t predict yet who will be our best wrestlers this year,” Whetstone said.  “Maybe after a couple of preseason events I will have a better idea.”

At Hawaii Preparatory Academy Coach Gary Jarvill has high hopes for his two seniors, Shannon Samura at 140 and Troy Choi at 215.

“We have 20 boys and 15 girls this season with no BIIF champions,” Jarvill said.

Hilo’s coach Alex Kalawe has 25 wrestlers on the matt this season, with over half being first time wrestlers.

“We have three returning BIIF runner-ups in Jacob Murphy a senior who will wrestle at 140 this year,” Kalawe said.  “On the girls side our runner-ups are Sha Pagan, a sophomore at 108 and Lahi Kanakanui, another sophomore, at 140.”

Kalawe considers this a rebuilding season for the Vikings as many of his wrestlers are still in the learning stages of the sport.

Pahoa coach Elvis Lum has 30 plus athletes coming out for wrestling this season which has the Dagger coach all smiles.

“Everything is up in the air right now as we are trying to figure out what we have,” Lum said. “Our most experienced wrestler and team captain is Jake Torres, a senior, who will either wrestle at the 145 or 152 class.”

Keaau is loaded with numbers as 50 boys and 10 girls have come out for the sport, according to head coach Charles Manning.

“We are really young,” Manning said.  “Our BIIF returning champion is Cheyden Quiocho at 135.”

The Cougars are also coached by Elton Lum, who is the brother of Pahoa coach Elvis Lum.

Kealakehe coach Michael Ciotti is optimistic about his chances of competing for the boys and girls team crowns.

“We have 30 boys and 10 girls and they are all tough,” Ciotti said.  “We worked hard during the off season and are prepared.”

The Waveriders return boys BIIF champion Robin Arllano at 114 along with girls league champion Destiny Maters also at 114. 

As the BIIF wrestling season begins to unfold one of the key areas on the mat is getting qualified officials.

“One of the things that are always needed is trained officials to man our tables,” BIIF Wrestling Official Elton Suganuma said.

“Without good scorekeepers and timekeepers our matches are so much more difficult to manage.  When you have to worry if your tables are getting the calls right as a referee, your focus is divided and that is never a good thing.  We need interested people who are not affiliated with current teams to train to man our tables,” Suganuma said.  “After all don’t our kids deserve the best we can give them?”

Several preseason tournaments are underway with most of the BIIF schools planning to participate at Kealakehe this weekend.

“We are looking forward to hosting the first all schools meet of the season,” Coach Ciotti said.  “This first meet is an opportunity to see how we look and how everything is about to unfold.”

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pahoa Wrestlers learning ‘Old School’ Technique

KEAAU – ‘Back to old school style’, is what Pahoa coach Elvis Lum has been preaching to his dozen grapplers during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling season.

Lum, a former BIIF champion in the unlimited weight division (189 pounds and above) in 1995 during his senior year at Pahoa, brings to his Dagger team the philosophy that the basic old school form of wrestling, still works if done correctly.

“A lot of coaches might disagree with me, but I believe in teaching the basics and to teach my team the stuff that works,” Lum said.

The Daggers feature Jake Torres at 145 and Dylan Coffel at 160 as their top two wrestlers as Lum has high hopes of qualifying some of his athletes for the state championships in February.

“We have some kids that could make it to states, but a big part of wrestling is the mental game and we need to get over that hurdle and gain more confidence on the mat,” he said.

This past Saturday the Dagger boys (no girls tried out for wrestling at Pahoa this year) took to the mat at Kamehameha’s Koa’ia gymnasium with schools from the East Side of the island, while West Side schools were wrestling in Honokaa.

Dylan Coffel

Coffel was on the mat against Waiakea’s Jordan Maglinti as both boys battled for position.

“In the beginning I was trying to push him around for points, but I made a mistake when he was in front of me and I pulled him backwards,” Coffel said.

The result was that Maglinti landed on Coffel’s chest which caused an injury and Coffel was pulled from the rest of the meet for safety reasons.

“I won the match by a score of 9 to 6, but wasn’t able to get anymore matches in that day,” Coffel said.  “I love wrestling for Pahoa as all the other teams are big and we get the smallest amount of money for our program.”

But despite the shortfalls in numbers and funding Coffel was optimistic in his view of Pahoa wrestling.

“What we lack in money we make up for in heart,” he said.  “We have a very good conditioning program and I’m glad I’m here.”

Jake Torres



Dagger teammate, Jake Torres, who won the Kealakehe tournament the previous week at 145, was on the mat facing Waiakea’s Pat Enos for the first time.

Torres jumped to a point advantage during the first period, but lost focus during the second and was pinned by Enos.

“I need to work on my sprawl and I need to be faster,” Torres said.  “I had the opportunity to win the match but I failed to see the openings at the time and wasn’t able to reverse the situation.”

Torrin McMurray

In the 152 weight class it was Pahoa’s Torin McMurray facing Kamehameha’s Roland Fernandez.  McMurray looked to be in total control of the match as he led 10-3 during the second period.

“He (Fernandez) stuck in a half and rolled me over,” McMurray said.  “I lost my focus and know I could have done better.” 

McMurray was also seen by an athletic trainer and was scratched from the rest of the meet due to injury.

“I got back into coaching to show what I know,” Lum said.  “And what I know is the basics, the things that worked in the past still works today.”

Tiare Mata

Also on the mat for Pahoa was Tiare Mata, but she wasn’t there to wrestle as the recent high school graduate was in training to be a BIIF wrestling official.

“I love the sport and I can’t seem to get away from it,” she said.  “Officiating is the closest I can come.  Now I need to know the sport and improve on my self confidence to be a good official.

On the girls side it was Hilo’s first year head coach Alex Kalawe that was trying to bring his eight girls into a respectable position.

“We’re young, but we’re coming up,” Kalawe said.

Sha Pagan

A pair of Viking freshman, Sha Pagan and Kaylan Kanakanui, was on the mat continuing on the learning curve.

Pagan was bumped up from her usually 108 class to the 114 division and on her opening match went against Kau’s Raquel Fields.

“With four seconds left in the first period I managed to drive from the top and put her in a half nelson to get the pin,” she said.

Pagan was introduced to wrestling when some of the boys on the team asked her to come out for the sports.

“This is a fun sport and a good way to express myself,” the Viking cheerleader said.  My cheerleading coaches are worried that I might get injured, but all in all they are happy about my playing two sports.”

Kaylan Kanakanui

Hilo’s Kaylan Kanakanui, also a freshman, came out to wrestling after spending a few years watching her brother, Isaiah, wrestle.

“I watched Isaiah, a senior, and thought that I could do that as well,” she said.  “I love the sport as I like the vicious contact sports.  I’m always trying my hardest and I like the overall conditioning that I get.”

BIIF wrestlers return to the mat on Saturday with divisional meets at Hawaii Prep and Hilo. 

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment