Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Waiakea’s Tyler Yonemori bumps up to higher weight class in BIIF Judo

Judoka practice prior to competition

   Hear the terms Ippon, Wazari or Yuko and you know you are in a judo tournament as such was the case this past Saturday as prep judoka from around the Big Island Interscholastic Federation spent the day competing at the Waiakea High School gym.


Waiakea’s own, Tyler Yonemori, had two big wins as he battled in the 178 pound weight class. Yonemori, who normally competes in the 145 division, weighed in at 153 and was bumped up another weight class in order to compete against larger opponents.

   “I guess I’ve been eating too much ice cream,” Yonemori said with a grin of being eight pounds over his normal competing weight.

   Yonemori is in his 10th year of judo carries a first degree black belt, had little opposition going against heavier judoka.

   During his first match against Kamehameha senior, Eric Young, Yonemori used a high seoinage throw to secure the Ippon victory.

   In his second match Yonemori went against Hilo’s Isaiah Kanakanui and began with his usual strategy of keeping his right arm close to his chest while grabbing his opponents Judo Gi with his left arm in order to catch Kanakanui off balance.

   Yonemori beat the taller and heavier Kanakanui by using a sodetsurikomi goshi throw and won by Ippon.  The flip was picture perfect with Kanakanui flying over Yonemori’s shoulder and the Viking falling properly without injury.

   “I get a thrill from competing, it’s like being on drugs, without the drugs,” Yonemori said. 


   Waiakea’s Steven Ogi faced Kamehameha’s Ikaika Villanueva in the 132 weight class with Ogi taking the mat with a calm focus.

   “My sensei has been telling me to relax and not be so excited coming into my matches,” Ogi said.  “Last year I would come out to hyper and this year I’m trying hard to stay focused and relaxed.”

   The advice paid off as Ogi succeeded with a hara goshi throw in the first 20 seconds of the match to secure an Ippon victory. 

  “He came in with a back leg reap and I shifted my weight and countered him backwards,” Ogi said of his win.

   Ogi, who is in his third year of judo and carries a brown belt, believes that mental attitude is what wins judo matches.

   “Our sensei, (Gregg Yonemori) is always telling us to go in to each match with the mindset that we’re going to win and that is what I always try to do,” Ogi said.

   While the Waiakea duo was displaying their talents on the mat a pair of Kamehameha girls were leaving their mark for the day.


Kanoe Padaken, a sophomore, and Kalena Shiroma, a senior, looked unstoppable in their matches.

   Padaken began the day with a match against Waiakea senior Kiana Machado in the 109 weight division.

   Machado became the early aggressor in the match and tried for several quick throws, which were unsuccessful.  At the one minute mark of the four minute match Padaken took the inside position and did a seoinage to win by Ippon.

   Later Padaken was at it again this time going against Kealakehe’s Kandy Mento.  Padaken got Mento on the mat and then held her down in the pin position for the required 25 seconds for the win.

  “I used a seoinage to get her on the ground then held her down,” Padaken said of her victory against Mento.

   “I like judo and wrestling equally well,” she said.  “Judo is calmer and has less pressure than wrestling and both are very different from each other.”


Warrior teammate and the BIIF’s highest finisher last year at the state judo championships, Kalena Shiroma had one match in the 139 weight class before heading out to get ready for her senior prom.

   Shiroma went against Kealakehe’s Anna Kroger and wasted no time in ending the match which last few than 10 seconds.

   “I got inside of her and set her up by waiting until she was off balance then pulling her over my leg, using a taiotoshi,” Shiroma said of her Ippon victory.

   “Tonight is our senior prom and I’m excited about getting ready,” Shiroma said.  “We have a few girls on the team that are going, but we’ll all stay and support the other members of our team.”

   Waiakea’s judo coach, Gregg Yonemori, had double duty over the weekend hosting the tournament and coaching his judoka.

   “It’s difficult to do both, host and coach,” Yonemori said.  “But we’re lucky to have very supportive parents help out.”

   Yonemori was also optimistic about his team’s performance over the weekend.  “Waiakea has a very young team and we did as expected today,” he said.  “By the end of the season we should be competitive.”

   A total of six schools compete during the BIIF season which includes host Waiakea, Hilo, Keaau, Kealakehe, Konawaena and Kamehameha.

   Schools were pitted against each other in head to head competition as team scoring were decided as each school tried to field a ten person team with one competitor in each weight division.

   The Kamehameha girls, Hilo and Konawaena boys are considered by many judo enthusiasts to be the teams to beat this season with each school having their own individual favorites to cheer for.

      Team Results Girls:
Kealakehe (50) – Keaau (20)
Kamehameha (60) – Kealakehe (30)
Hilo (20) – Konawaena (20)
Hilo (20) – Keaau (30)
Waiakea (20) – Konawaena (20)
Kamehameha (60) – Waiakea (10)
Waiakea (20) – Hilo (20)
        Team Results Boys:
Kealakehe (40) – Keaau (30)
Kamehameha (30) – Kealakehe (30)
Konawaena (60) – Hilo (30)
Hilo (57) – Keaau (10)
Konawaena (60) – Waiakea (20)
Waiakea (40) – Kamehameha (20)
Hilo (40) – Waiakea (20)

April 6, 2010 Posted by | High School Judo | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aoki Slips by Aina, 8-7, in BIIF Wrestling

Kamehameha's Nalu Souza, bottom, will win by pin, photo by CSUAINAJR

Good things often come in small packages and when it comes to prep wrestling the 103 pound weight division may see a battle between giants.

   This past Saturday Kealakehe played host to an all-schools wrestling meet which saw some of the premiere grapplers in the state going head to head.

   Kamehameha’s Megan Aina weighed in at 99 pounds while three times BIIF champion Konawaena’s Alexandra Aoki dropped one weight class to feature two of the best wrestlers at 103.

   Aina, who believes in the theory that to be the best she must compete against the best, moved up a weight class earlier in the season to challenge Aoki and lost by pin in the second round.

   This past Saturday Aina was determined to turn things around on Aoki and became the aggressor early on as she tried to keep the more experienced wrestler off balance.

   “Megan led going into the third period by a score of 7-4,” Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller said.  “But instead of wrestling to win she got conservative and wrestled not to lose.”

   Aoki overpowered Aina during the final two minute period to squeak by with an 8-7 victory. 

   “In that match Alex (Aoki) showed everyone why she is a three time BIIF champion, going on her fourth BIIF title,” Miller said.  “I am looking forward to them meeting again at Kamehameha’s Tournament on Jan. 30 and also in the BIIF Championships.”

Jenna Aina goes for the pin

While Aina dropped her close match her older sister, Jenna Aina, was able to avenge her only loss in BIIF competition by beating Wildcat Daniele Hubbard in a nail biting overtime score 9-7.

   Jenna Aina’s victories at the 114 weight class led to her capturing first in that division and provided the Warrior girls with another impressive meet.

   Warrior teammates Rustee-Ann Johansen, junior at 140, Kanoe Padaken, sophomore at 108, Kaopua Sutton, senior at 175, and Jasmine Iuta, freshmen at 220, all had perfect records on the day.

   Especially impressive for the Kamehameha girls was Jasmine Iuta who weighs under 175, but was bumped to the higher weight division by her coach.

   “One thing Jaz has going for her is that her practice partner, Kao Sutton, beats her up in practice every day,” Coach Miller said.  “I tell my wrestlers at the beginning of the season that their mission is to make it hard for their partner.  Their goal is to make them the hardest wrestler their partner will see all season.”

   Iuta went on to pin both her opponents in the heavyweight division which now makes her the person to beat in that weight class.

   “I pinned the girls from Kau and HPA in the second round,” Iuta said.  “During the match with the Kau girl I used a lot of head snapping.  I couldn’t shoot on her, so I used more momentum and less muscular force to try and counter her moves.”

   “Against the HPA girl I felt that that we were around the same experience level so I used some moves that my dad taught me,” Iuta said.  “The move that I felt the most comfortable with was the head and arm and to pin her I used a head chancer.”

   Honokaa had a good showing with two girls taking second place finishes in Heather Sugimoto, 125, and Jessica Muskatt, 175, both going 2-1.

   For Dragon boys it was Geo Chavez-Pardini, 160, and Kalai Niau, 189, winning all three of their matches resulting in first place finishes.  Teammate Preston Cawagas, 171, also had a good day going 2-1 and finishing second in a tough weight division.

   Chavez-Pardini and Niau both won their first won matches by pin with Chavez-Pardini taking a superior decision in his final match while Niau came away with a close decision in his final match.

   “I was able to win my first two matches with first round pins using the head and arm technique,” Niau said. “My third match was against Ryan Pilanca of Kealakehe and I beat him on points, 13-11.”

   During his third match Niau was up by 10 points and nearly had his opponent pinned on two occasions, but needed to hang on in the final round to escape with a narrow victory.

   Niau weighed in on Saturday at 171.8 pounds and was required to wrestle at the heavier 189 class, but the senior believes that he will compete at the 171 class by the time the BIIF championships roll around.

   “I probably can win BIIF’s this year at 171,” Niau said. 

Nalu Souza

Two Kamehameha boys also had unblemished marks at Kealakehe.  Justin Hirae, junior at 114, Nalu Souza, sophomore at 120, established themselves as contenders in their weight divisions.

   The host Waveriders had several good performances as well with defending BIIF champion Jodi Ozaki winning both her matches at 120 along teammates Justin Tanaka, 2-0 at 135, and Dillon Cortes, 3-0 at 130.

   Cortes continues to be undefeated in BIIF competition and needed to get past a trio of tough competitors to keep his mark in tact.

   “During my first match I tried to work the half-nelson and then went to set up the high crotch shot,” Cortes said of his first round pin.

    The second match against Waiakea’s Ryan Tampon was to be the real testing ground for Cortes as both wrestlers lead the 130 class, but Tampon was forced to forfeit the match due to an unscheduled bathroom break.

   In his third and final match of the day Cortes faced Keaau’s Jesse Huihui who is a gifted all around athlete.

     “I had a hard time getting shots because Jesse is really good at tie ups,” Cortes said.  “He’s really hard to pin and tough to get on his back.”

    With a few seconds left in the third and final period, and up by a 4-0 score, Cortes managed to flip Huihui on his back for the pin.

  ‘Rider teammate Justin Tanaka took on two different Hilo opponents while working hard on his wrestling skills.

   “I was trying to have fun on Saturday and work on my technique,” Tanaka said.  “I train hard and work hard and I always try to get the first take down.”

   In his first match Tanaka won during the first round with a 15-0 score and his second match went the full three rounds to win on points 15-3.

    Tanaka used a variety of wrestling moves from the half-nelson, to chicken wing and leg rides as he practiced the various moves associated with prep grappling.

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Island Judo Championships

   Waiakea’s Aryn Meguro became a four time Big Island Interscholastic Federation judo champion this past Saturday at Kealakehe.

    Meguro, who was injured after suffering a concussion during the second week of the season, competed in the 98 weight for the first time in her four year career.

    “During my freshman year I was bumped up one weight class to win the BIIF championship at 109, then in my sophomore and junior years I played at 103,” Meguro said.

   After returning to competition just two weeks ago Meguro decided to drop a weight class to play at the 98 pound weight division.  “I needed to lose three pounds in order to play at this division so I started to run more and eat healthier,” Meguro said.

   During her junior year Meguro had injured her left elbow during state competition and finished in sixth place.  “I’m not that confident playing at 98 pounds because I’ve never played at that weight class and I have never competed against any of the girls at that division,” she said.

   “But I felt that I may have the best chance at placing at states by playing at the lighter division.”  Meguro beat her BIIF opponent by ippon and she used a left hip throw or seoenage to accomplish her victory.

   “I’ve been involved in judo for ten years and I have a brown belt,” Meguro said.  “I’m now hoping I can finish my senior year with a good showing at the state championships.”

   Kamehameha sisters, Jenna and Megan Aina also came away with BIIF titles.  Jenna (122), a junior and three time BIIF champion, needed to beat Kealakehe’s Jodi Ozaki in the finals to claim her title.

   The match was a quick one for the elder Aina as she won by Ippon in the first seven seconds using a hip throw.  “I used one of my favorite throws, an Ipponseoenage,” she said. 

   Jenna Aina has been in judo for eight years and holds a black belt, shodan.  As a freshman she placed fourth at state and as a sophomore she captured a fifth place finish.  “I hoping I can win it all at states this year,” she said.

   Megan Aina (103) is just a freshman and as talented as her older sister.  The younger Aina used a seoenage, left hip throw, to win her match quickly over Kealakehe’s Mindy Lorance. 

   “I started judo when I was young and Jenna and I love it,” Megan said.  “We have a younger brother in the eighth grade and he’ll be doing judo with us next year at Kamehameha.”

   The upset of the day came in the 109 weight division as the top two seeds, Hilo’s Iris Hirayama and Kamehameha’s Kanoe Padaken were the heavy favorites coming into the championships.

    Third seed, Kamehameha’s Ariel Young, rose to the occasion and upset both Hirayama and Padaken to claim the BIIF crown.

    Young, a senior, had never won a BIIF title and was not expected to reach the finals of her weight class as the two higher seeds, Padaken and Hirayama, had defeated her earlier in the season.

    “I really surprised myself today,” Young said after her victories over Padaken and Hirayama.  “I never expected to win today and just came out in a go for broke attitude.  I did try to strategize during the matches, but I felt I had nothing to lose.”

    Young defeated her teammate, Padaken in the first round and in the finals matched up with the Hirayama, the defending champion at that weight class.

    “Ariel (Young) put in a lot of effort and practiced harder than most,” Kamehameha coach, Calvin Enoki said.  “She relaxed and reacted and managed to pull off a major upset on the day.”

    “Ariel’s match against Iris (Hirayama) lasted nearly four minutes and she scored two half points to pull out the win,” Enoki said.

     “I just worked harder and stayed after practice.  I didn’t go in thinking I was going to win and I just looked at the matches today as another match.  I stopped thinking hard about the match and just went in and tried to relax and react,” Young said.

   In the boys division it was Waiakea’s Ericksen Kohatsu (132) winning his third BIIF championship.  As a sophomore Kohatsu had won the 121 division and had since dominated the 132 weight class.

    In the finals Kohatsu faced Hilo’s Michael Yagi and used an ipponseoenage or right hip throw to win by ippon during the first minute of competition.

    “I just was trying to do my best because it was my senior year,” Kohatsu said of his BIIF title.  “Coach Yonemori (Waiakea’s first year judo coach) has given me confidence and I like that he is strict with us.”

    “I have never placed at a state meet before and I am just hoping to go in and do my best and perform at 100 percent,” Kohatsu said.

    Warrior teammate, Tyler Yonemori, also came away with a BIIF title while competing at the 145 weight division.

    Yonemori, who is coached by his father, Gregg Yonemori, needed to get by Kona’s Joey Phipps in the finals to win his first BIIF title.

    Using a left side throw, seoenage, within the first two minutes of the match, Yonemori clinched the coveted crown.

    “I had a couple of hard matches today.  I’ve been in judo for ten years and carry a black belt, shodan,” Yonemori said.

    Last year Yonemori hurt his back during the second week of BIIF competition and was not able to compete in the BIIF championships.

    “I will keep training hard and give 100 percent and at states I will go and do my best,” he said. Both Warriors, Kohatsu and Yonemori, had unblemished records during the BIIF season.


April 27, 2009 Posted by | Events, High School Judo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment