Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Alex Aoki becomes a 4 time BIIF wrestling champion

Kamehameha's Justin Hirae became a 3 time BIIF champion on Saturday

   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.


February 14, 2010 Posted by | 1, Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pahoa’s Austin Dugan Looking for Top 3 Finish in BIIF Wrestling

Pahoa freshman, Austin Dugan, wrestling at 108 pounds

PAHOA – In their final regular season match Eastside wrestlers and coaches were scrambling to make last minute adjustments before entering the league championship scheduled at Keaau on Feb 13.

  Pahoa played host to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s regular season finale and Dagger coach Joe Duley was optimistic about his team’s chances of producing one or two finalist at the BIIF championships.

   “I have nine boys and one girl on the team,” Duley said.  “And the good news is that seven of those kids are freshmen and sophomores.”

   One of those freshmen, Austin Dugan, has Pahoa’s best chance at making the top three in the 108 class during the BIIF championships according to Coach Duley.

   Dugan often has difficulty finding opponents in his lightweight division and during the season has been bumped up to the 114 class in order to compete.  Last week Dugan upset Laupahoehoe’s Lucky Baun at 114 and this past Saturday the young Dagger found opposition at 108 against Keaau’s Kainoa Santiago.

   Dugan, a lightning quick, hard-nosed grappler, wasted little time getting an opening period take down and two points on his way to a pin with 26 seconds left in the first period.

   “I got him in a half nelson and rolled him over,” Dugan said of his victory. “I’ve been learning a lot this year and most of the time I wrestle people who know more than me.”

“I think I can do all right at the BIIF championships if I work hard and stay focused,” Dugan said. 

  Coach Duley used two mats during Saturday’s day long event and followed Kamehameha’s lead from the previous week of having a “dual meet system” which allowed schools to compete against each other in three rounds of action.

  During the first round little Pahoa took on the giant of wrestling, Kamehameha, as the private school Warriors dominated most of the competition.

   “I keep telling my wrestlers that if you want to be the best you have to face the best,” Coach Duley said of his scheduling Kamehameha in the first round.

    Kamehameha’s experience and sheer numbers overwhelmed the young Dagger squad which later faced Keaau in the second round.


Warrior junior, Rustee-Ann Johansen, looked good in her match against Keaau’s Sharry Lei Fernandez.

   Johansen, the BIIF runner-up at 140 last season, began with a series of take downs and scored on a near-fall in the first period to amass an 11-3 lead going into the second.

   “I had to work on my shoots,” Johansen said.  “Every match I never shoot (go for the legs in an attempt at taking down an opponent) and I have to counter everything.”

   On Saturday Johansen worked hard on her take downs and in the second period build her lead to 13-5 before pinning her opponent with 1:07 remaining in the third period.

   “I just grabbed her arm and leg and rolled her over for the pin,” Johansen said.

   Johansen lost 15 pounds going into this year and now competes at 130 and has racked up a 19-2 overall record. 

   “I’m a little superstitious talking about BIIF’s,” she said.  “I don’t want to jinx my chances, and you never know what’s going to happen anyway.”

Isaac DeRego

Kamehameha teammate and wrestling team captain, Isaac DeRego, has been making headway in the 171 class.  On Saturday DeRego improved on his overall record by beating his Pahoa opponent.

   “I tried to stay on top of him and ride him out during most of the match,” DeRego said. 

  DeRego led 14-2 in the third period before getting the pin by using a half nelson roll over move.

  With his victory DeRego improved to 11-1 overall this season with his only loss coming to Honokaa’s Kalai Nihau by a score of 17 to 12.

   “This is going to be the first time I’ve ever wrestled at the BIIF championships,” DeRego said.  “I’m looking forward to having another chance against Kalai.”


In the heavyweight division, Kamehameha’s 285 pound giant, Akoa Koa Paleka-Kennedy went against Keaau’s Johan Kalima in a clash of the titans.

   Both boys opened with a serious of head slaps to each other with Paleka-Kennedy getting the first take down of the match.

   “In the beginning he (Kalima) was pretty strong,” Paleka-Kennedy said.  “My coaches tell me to put all my weight on my opponent once I get them down and that is what I did.”

    Paleka-Kennedy stumbled onto wrestling when he was a paddler last season.

   “I got a cut and wasn’t allowed back into the water,” he said.  “That’s when I decided to try wrestling.”

    The hefty Warrior won his match against Kalima by rolling him over, onto his back, and then by placing his massive frame on the Cougar.  Paleka-Kennedy got the first round pin with 53 seconds remaining in the period.

Jesse Huihui

Keaau’s Jesse Huihui looked strong in his 130 match against Kamehameha’s Charles Aina.  Huihui got the first take down with 58 seconds left in the first period to lead 2-0 going into the second.

   Aina’s attempted leg dive was countered by Huihui as the Cougar managed to gain the advantage taking a 4-0 lead into the third period.

   During the final period Aina became more aggressive, but Huihui managed to withstand the surge and finished with an 8-4 win.

   “I was using a sprawling defensive move to keep him (Aina) down as I took the top position,” Huihui said after his match.  “I’ve been wrestling since I was in first grade and today I tried to go all three rounds to work on my conditioning.”

   Huihui goes into the BIIF championships with an 8-2 record.

   The BIIF championships will be held at Keaau on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.  The top three wrestlers in each of the weight classes will advance to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championships to be held in Honolulu.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HPA & Honokaa Excel in BIIF Wrestling

Geo Chavez-Pardini undefeated in 4 years of BIIF wrestling

   KEAAU – This past Saturday was a day filled with spills and thrills as grapplers from various Eastside schools took on the Westside in Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling.

   Kamehameha played host to the third and final all-schools meet prior to the BIIF wrestling championships, at Keaau on Feb 13, and wanted to use a four mat system, maximizing the number of matches each athlete was afforded.

   But as fate would have it one of the wrestling officials was not able to make the meet and only three mats were used.

   For the first time this season at BIIF all-schools meet coaches assembled their athletes in a “dual meet format” in order to provide the best competition available.

   “We wanted to guarantee that kids would be exposed to a variety of competition and the dual format helped to achieve that goal,” Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller said.  “In some past meets I’ve had my own kids wrestling each other and that is a waste of travel funds.”

   With the dual meet format in place wrestlers from the Eastside were pitted against competition from the Westside.

   “We only have a total of six meets prior to the BIIF championships and half of those are all school meets and the other half are divisional meets,” Miller said.

   In first round action Hawaii Preparatory Academy was pitted against Waiakea which featured some great performance by both schools.

Bronson Kobayashi

In the 140 weight class Waiakea’s Tyler Yonemori continued his winning ways by pinning his opponent.  Yonemori, which has wrestled at both the 140 and 145 classes, is a formidable opponent that has HPA senior Bronson Kobayashi at 145 hoping for a rematch.

   “I wrestled Tyler twice this season,” Kobayashi said.  “The first time I beat him 8-6, and in our second meeting he beat me 4-2.”

    Both Yonemori and Kobayashi’s only loss this season has been between each other and the question looms on who would win in the BIIF finals.

    In Saturday’s match Kobayashi went against Waiakea’s Kawika Nihoa which saw a defensive battle throughout the three periods. 

   Kobayashi began with several head taps and attempted to get the first take down without any success.

    “I didn’t know what to expect against the Waiakea guy,” Kobayashi said.  “I tried to take his focus off the match with the head taps.  I think the Waiakea coaches are really good and this was a tough match for me.”

    Kobayashi scored the first three points of the match with four seconds remaining in the second period with a near fall, and then had to hang on the rest of the way to escape with a narrow 3-2 win over Nihoa.

Keoni Colson

Ka Makani teammate Keoni Colson went against Warrior Henry Kiman in the 152 class.  Colson scored in rapid succession building a 5-0 lead during the first period and winning by a technical 17-2 score with 43 seconds left in the second period.

   “I always go all out during my matches, no matter who I’m wrestling,” Colson said after the match.  “I got most of my points by turning him by fighting for the inside position.”

   Colson’s, last year’s BIIF champion at 145, victory left him undefeated in BIIF completion this season.

    Also undefeated is HPA’s Grayson Braham at 160.  In Braham first match of the day the senior went against Waiakea’s Jordan Maglinti and scored the first two points of the match in the first five seconds to take the lead 2-0.

   Braham, who is an outstanding wrestler, wasted little time placing Maglinti into a half-nelson and cradled him over into the pin position.

   “I used a cross-face cradle and then I pinned him with a Turk ride,” Braham said after his match with Maglinti.  “I like wrestling because it’s one on one, face to face, and it comes down to what you do.”

   Braham is not the only wrestler in the BIIF that is undefeated at 160 pounds.  Honokaa’s Geo Chavez-Pardini has spent his entire four seasons in league competition without a loss and on Saturday he displayed his wrestling skills.

   Chavez-Pardini went against Hilo’s Cullen Mento and took the Viking down with a quick move. 

    “I used a half nelson and then sucked his arms in and rolled him over,” Chavez-Pardini said of his 35 second pin against Mento.  “I like having all the pressure placed on me on whether I win or lose.  I can’t blame anyone else; it’s all up to me.”

   The stage is now set for a match between Honokaa’s Chavez-Pardini and HPA’s Braham which will come within the next two weeks as the BIIF season winds down.

   “I’m hoping to get a match with Geo next week,” Braham said.  “I’m excited and a little nervous to be facing him.”

   The Dragons also have Kalai Nihau, 171, which is undefeated in the BIIF this season.  In first round action Saturday Nihau went against Keaau’s Treyven AhQuin-Fely and pinned the Cougar with 58 seconds left in the first period.

   “I actually bumped up to 189 to wrestle the Keaau kid,” Nihau said.  “There wasn’t anyone to wrestle in my weight class and I wanted to get a match in.”

   Nihau credits much of his success this season to Chavez-Pardini as the two will work out together during practice sessions.

   “I’m working really hear this year as it’s my senior season,” Nihau said.  “Geo has helped me a lot as I’ve been practicing with the best wrestler on the island.”

   Dragon teammate, Jessica  Muscat, at 175 has only lost one match during the season and looked good while facing her competition on Saturday.

   In Muscat’s first match of the day the Dragon bumped up into the heavy weight bracket and placed her opponent in a half-nelson then rolled her over and onto her back to win in the second period by pin.

   “This is my first year of wrestling as I’ve always played volleyball,” Muscat said.  “The coach had been asking me to try wrestling and this year I decided to give it a try.”

Austin Dugan

The match of the day may have been between Pahoa’s Austin Dugan and Laupahoehoe’s Lucky Baun in the 114 weigh class.

   Baun, the more experienced wrestler, went for the quick take down early in the first round and found himself ahead 5-0 in the first 52 seconds of the match.

   But Dugan, just a freshman, rebounded late in the period scoring points on a takedown and an escape while avoiding a near pin.

   Trailing by a score of 7-6 in the second round Dugan rallied to tie the match at 13 going into the final round.  In the third period Dugan took the lead 18-16 and with 46 seconds left in the match scored an upset victory over Baun with a pin.

   “My conditioning is a lot better than his,” Dugan said after his win against Baun.  “I weighed in today at 107, but there was no one to wrestle in the 108 class, so I bumped up to 114.”

   Dugan’s victory came as a surprise as Baun is considered by many to be in the top three of the 114 weight class.  But Dugan’s never give up attitude is a tribute to his hard work and determination.

   “I knew I needed to bridge early to escape being pinned,” Dugan said.  “I told myself I could win the match if I could get out of his hold.”

   The BIIF regular season concludes on Saturday with an Eastside match at Pahoa and a Westside match at HPA.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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