Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Kealakehe boys wrestling team to contend for BIIF Team Title

Allin Franco

Kealakehe hosted a Big Island Interscholastic Federation all schools wrestling meet on Saturday and left little doubt that their boy’s team is a contender for the league title this season.

Several of their athletes stepped up to have impressive performances which left a lasting impression on their competition with the season winding down into its final two weeks.

Allin Franco could certainly have been considered the headliner for Kealakehe on Saturday as the 140 pounder went a perfect 4-0 on the day winning three of his matches by pin and the other with an impressive 10-1 victory.

“I try not to tie up in the beginning of my matches and let my opponents come to me,” Franco said.  “Once they come in I’ll then take my shot.”

The Waverider senior admits that having more experience plays an important role in his overall success.

“This is my fourth year of wrestling and most of my competition is in their first or second year,” he said.  

Franco, the BIIF runner up last season, usually goes for arm drags and then switches to a single before taking down his opponents which leads to a one wrist grab and a tilt that has brought his overall BIIF season record to 14-1.

Continuing the Waverider tradition of talented ‘Rider wrestlers was defending BIIF champion Robin Arellano in the 114 weight division.

“Robin is one of our team captains and certainly will help us in our quest of a team title,” Waverider coach Mike Ciotti said.  “He went 3-1 on Saturday and is now 10-1 on the season.”

Arellano, a senior, brings a quick takedown technique to the mat as his success lies in getting that first take down while he pushes the offense.

His three wins came as a result of having a good bar series on top while executing a barbed wire and chicken wing maneuvers.

“Robin has a good arsenal of maneuvers and is quick on his feet,” Ciotti said.  “He’s also good at escaping from the down position while he continues to press the pace.”

Waverider teammate Asaiah Guieb, 145, went 3-1, losing his first BIIF match of the season which brings him to an overall 13-1 record.

“I lost a close, 6-5 match to a Waiakea guy that I had previously wrestled during preseason,” Guieb said.  “I learned from that match and will come into it next time better prepared.”

Guieb didn’t let his only loss of the year deter his nearly perfect day; winning his three other matches by pin.

“I had an alright day,” Guieb said.  “I used basic moves to get my pins and I know how to read my opponents trying to stay a step ahead of them.”

All three of Guieb’s pins came by using the half nelson and a cradle while being able to react quickly to his opponents opening advances and think at a supersonic pace to outmaneuver the competition.

Guieb a senior is determined to challenge for the overall BIIF individual title when it comes up at Kamehameha on February 18.

“I didn’t even place in the top three last year and have not gone on to states,” Guieb said.  “But being a senior this year I not only want to win the BIIF title, I’d also like to medal at the state championships.”

Guieb contributes much of his success this season to doing extra training on his own, after practice.

“I run on my own everyday and lift weights three times a week on my own,” he said. 

Teammate Dan Gampon, 120, is faced each week at being in one of the toughest divisions in the BIIF.

Gampon carries a 13-5 overall season record. His only loses has come from the defending BIIF champion Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza, and the BIIF runner up Konawaena’s Sage Aoki.

On Saturday Gampon had four matches going 3-1 with his only loss to Aoki by a 13-5 score.

“I feel pretty honored to be in one of the toughest weight classes,” Gampon said.  “Nalu and Sage make me better every time I wrestle because I learn from them and they teach me a lot.”

Gampon’s three wins came from impressive scores against Hilo, winning by 15 points, Keaau 13-5, and Honokaa, 12-6, opponents.

“I still need to find that one little thing that is missing,” Gampon said.  “I need to raise my confidence level and believe in myself.”

Gampon, a gritty wrestler, who often raises his level of intensity by being aggressive in his matches, has raised his level to one of the best at 120.

“Competition is the best thing about wrestling,” he said.  “This weight class brings out the best in me.”

The Waveriders boy’s team seems to have the balance and numbers to be a possible contender this season for the team title.

Coach Ciotti

Coach Ciotti was pleased with his overall team performance and he gave kudos to their grit and determination.

“We have a solid team from top to bottom that is committed,” Ciotti said.  “We carry 25 boys and 8 girls and I believe we are a contender for the boy’s team title.”

Ciotti needed to split his time between hosting the all schools meet and coaching while trying to provide three matches to the 100 boys and 50 girls that were there to wrestle.

“It was hard for me to actually coach today, but what I saw from our kids is that they are starting to show toughness at the right point in the season,” Ciotti said.

Despite the difficulty of hosting an all schools meet Ciotti benefited from the advantage of being home.

“We don’t have to get up early in the morning and travel several hours, which means the kids can sleep in and wrestling in a familiar place in front of their home crowd,” Ciotti said.

The BIIF venue moves to an East/West format on Saturday with Pahoa hosting the East side and Honokaa hosting the West. 

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

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

BIIF Wrestling Preview – Kamehameha girls expected to repeat

BIIF season kicks of at WHS on Sat.

It will be a season of rebuilding and mystery, according to several Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling coaches.

“I spoke with several of the coaches at our coaches meeting and it sounds like many teams, like us, graduated a lot of wrestlers last year and are in the rebuilding stages,” Honokaa coach Dan Whetstone said.

Whetstone believes that there are no clear favorites to win the boys BIIF team title and that Kamehameha has the inside track at winning the girls title.

“The only wrestlers I have returning that have a track record are Jessica Muskat and Geo Chavez-Pardini,” Whetstone said.  “The only girl that Jessica lost to on the island last year has graduated, so she should be the girl to beat in her weight class and she should improve on her sixth place finish from last year’s state tournament.”

Chavez-Pardini suffered a knee injury while working out with a state all star team on Oahu over the summer and Whetstone says that it will be hard to predict what his recovery time table will be.

“We’re hopeful that Geo can regain his previous form by the time league championships roll around, if not sooner,” Whetstone said.

Kamehameha girls return as the BIIF team champions and are lead by senior Rustee Johansen.

Johansen is the BIIF champ at 130 pounds and is a Warrior team captain.

“I stayed in shape by working out during the summer and lifting weights,” Johansen said.  “My goals are to have another successful year and to do better than my fifth place finish at states last year.”

Coach Marlon Miller returns as the Kamehameha girls coach and is looking at several returnees along with a host of new, young talent.

“I’ve been blessed with a great returning squad of young ladies,” Miller said. 

Starting at the 98 pound class Kamehameha returns state champion and two time BIIF champ, Megan Aina.  Aina, along with 11 other Warrior girls began the preseason by competing in the Punahou Girls Invitation on Nov 27 and was very impressive on the mat.

State Champion Megan Aina with Coach Miller

Aina, with teammate Jasmine Iuta, 175, won their weight classes with six other Warriors placing in the Punahou tournament which had over 230 girls competing.

“I still need to practice harder and work harder if I hope to defend for the state title,” a humble Aina said.

Iuta, just a sophomore, won both her matches at Punahou by pin and considered the tournament to be a good momentum builder going into the BIIF season.

“It was great experience for me to come and wrestle on Oahu,” Iuta said.  “We did great as a team and we all benefited from the experience.”

“We did very well at Punahou as we had medalist in eight of the 11 weight classes,” Coach Miller said.  “Punahou looks like the team to beat in the state and Molokai will be the sleeper this year.”

The Warriors have Kanoe Padaken, second in BIIF last season, and the Pohina sisters, Noelle and Pomai returning to the mat.

“Jasmine Iuta, Liana Soares and Sable Marie Young are three more of my returning sophomores that should secure the future of this girls program when I’m long gone,” Miller said.

Miller is also high on Alexia Osburn, saying that she will add to the Warriors strength on the mat.

“I have a total of seventeen girls this year and although that is a great number to have I do have a few weight classes that I am unable to fill,” he said.

Miller believes that this is the best girls recruiting class he has ever had and that they will make a strong bid to repeat as team champions.

On the boys side the Warriors are led by second year coach Brendon Coutot and feature three time BIIF champion, Justin Hirae.

Nalu Kekona-Souza and Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy will anchor a talent squad along with Charlie Aina, Gavriel DeRego and Kema Chin.

“I expect a solid performance from our two other juniors, Jason Roland-Fernandez and CJ Matsuyama,” Miller said.  “We have numerous first year wrestlers that have excelled beyond our expectations as coaches.  The recruitment numbers aren’t quite what we would like them to be, but what we lack in quantity, we more than make up in enthusiasm and determination.”

Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Gary Jarvill returns three boys and three girls from last year’s squad.

“Shannon Samura, Troy Choi and Leila Wong all went to state last year and should do well again this season,” Jarvill said.  “We will be rebuilding and starting from scratch this season with all of the other new wrestlers.”

Keaau Coach Charles Manning chose not to speculate on the Cougar chances this season, saying that it was too early to tell.

“I do not like to speculate this early in the season as to who will be the tops in weight classes as I feel that it is counterproductive,” Manning said.  “As for team expectations we expect to work hard and improve all season long.  I’m sure we will be represented well in the BIIF when championships are on the line.”

The Konawaena Wildcats graduated several key grapplers, but still managed to return some BIIF champions.

“Melissa Dumaguin, a senior, and Tanalei Louis, a sophomore, both return for us, including my son Sage Aoki,” Wildcat coach Mark Aoki said.

Dumaguin won the BIIF crown at 130, while Louis took the 125 division and Aoki battled to victory at 108.

“Some of our BIIF champions may be moving up in weight this season, but we’ll just have to wait to see where they’ll be at,” Aoki said.  “Kona is in a rebuilding year as most of our team is made up of new kids.  I think Kealakehe is in the same situation as us, but Kamehameha seems to have the edge for the girls.”

Kau has a returning sophomore, Keani Mello-Waiaiaole who won the heavyweight, 220 bracket, as a freshman last year.

“Keani will return for us along with two of her sisters and all three should do well,” Trojan coach Kevin Rence said.

Kealakehe, the defending boy’s team champion, is going through their own rebuilding year as the mighty ‘Riders have won seven league championships over a nine year period.

The secret to Kealakehe’s success has come in their ability to be competitive in most or all of the 14 weight classes.

“We have 25 boys out for wrestling this year and I’m hoping we can once again fill all the different weight divisions,” ‘Rider coach Mike Ciotti said.

Leading the way for Kealakehe is defending BIIF champion Tim Eckert in the 215 weight class.

“Tim’s returning for us along with sever boys that placed at the BIIF championships last year,” Ciotti said.  “We’ve won four consecutive boys team titles and we should be competitive in going for our fifth in a row.”

Some coaches failed to return phone calls regarding the upcoming wrestling season which begins on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Waiakea.

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment