Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Hilo’s Atagi goes 3 rounds against state champion Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy

Atagi
Paleka-Kennedy

In the land of Giants, opportunities presented itself with a Viking trying to slay the Warrior King.

Kamehameha’s defending heavy weight wrestling state champion, Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, made his way to the mat on Saturday in the final match of the day to face Hilo’s Zachary Atagi in a battle of the 285 pound weight division.

“I’m kind of relaxed,” Atagi said before his match with Paleka-Kennedy.  “He has more experience than me and he is the state champion, I am just hoping I don’t tense up.”

To quell his nerves Atagi tells jokes to one of his coaches, Mike Mandaquit, in order to keep his mind off facing the best wrestler in the state.

“I plan on fighting power with power and I can’t let him try to overpower me, as I’m hoping to just wrestling him,” Atagi continued.

Atagi brought an 8-1 record to the mat against the state champion, while Paleka-Kennedy came to the mat with an unblemished 5-0 record winning all of his matches by pins.

“He (Paleka-Kennedy) is just like any other guy, as anybody can win and this is a match that I have been looking forward to.”

Paleka Kennedy sat out the first few weeks of the season because of his fluctuating weight which put him over the 285 limit.

During the match the Viking gave the Warrior every bit of a match going the full three rounds as Paleka-Kennedy won on points by a score of 11-2.

“He (Atagi) is very balanced and had good stand up,” Paleka-Kennedy said after the grueling match.  “He was strong and hard to take down.”

Atagi scored his two points with an escape and Paleka-Kennedy scored with three takedowns and escapes.

“I don’t want to be overconfident going into a match and I don’t want to take any one lightly,” Paleka Kennedy said.  “He (Atagi) is the best wrestler I’ve faced this season.”

Atagi was ecstatic about his ability to go against the state champion.

“For the most part I’m please to go all three rounds against the best in the state,” Atagi said.  “Of course, I would have wanted to win as I go into every match to win.”

Atagi comes from a wrestling family as his dad was a state runner up for Waialua High School on Oahu.

“My dad coached both of my current Hilo High coaches,” Atagi said.  “He also helps me a lot, along with my other coaches.”

Coach Kalawe
Nishimoto-Noguchi

Viking Coach Alex Kalawe was pleased with his team’s performance as the opportunities presented itself on the mat.
“All of our kids are getting really tough challenges today,” Kalawe said.  “Most of the schools are trying to set up the best matches which will go on to making the kids better and more successful later.”

Another Viking, Trent Hashimoto-Noguchi at 130 had his hands full dropping his first match to a Keaau opponent on points.

“I just got tired and didn’t have the energy to finish that first match,” Hashimoto-Noguchi said.  “I need to be better prepared by rehydrating and putting some food into myself.”

In his second match Hashimoto-Noguchi rebounding winning by pin in the third round as he used a tilt, gaining control, then pushing his opponent onto his back, bringing his overall BIIF record to 6-4.

Lee
Kanekanui

The Lady Viks made the most of their opportunities with Kainoe Lee gaining an impressive victory over a talented Kamehameha Jasmine Iuta at 155.

“Jasmine beat me last week and today I won by a score of 8-2,” Lee said.  “I came into this match with more confidence and I felt good warming up as I was really motivated.”

Lee’s only two losses this season came at the hands of Iuta as she ran her league record to 8-2.

“I just came in more aggressive than in the past and I wanted to take control,” Lee said.  “I was also more relaxed and I know that Jasmine is the best competition that I have in this weight class.”

Teammate Lahi Kanakanui won an exciting match over Waiakea’s Kanani Silva, in overtime.

“The match was tied at 5 all at the end of regulation,” Kanakanui said.  “In overtime she (Silva) went for a shot and I sprawled and then circled around for the win.”

Choi

While Hilo was hosting an East Division wrestling tournament Hawaii Preparatory Academy hosted the West.

Undefeated in BIIF competition is Ka Makani Troy Choi at 215 who beat both his Honokaa opponents to run his record to 15-0.

“In my first match I wrestled Christian Silva and pinned him in the second round using a duck under and then moving into a backward high crotch,” Choi said.  “My second match was against Kainoa Lyman who bumped up from 189.”

“I pinned Kainoa in the third round using a chicken wing, running it to the right and then flipping him onto his back, Choi said.

Choi, a senior, credits most of his success to sticking with the HPA wrestling program for all four years.

“I got beat up as a freshman and paid my dues,” Choi said.  “Most of my opponents now are younger and still need to pay their dues as their skill level is below mine.”

Choi was the BIIF runner up last season and looks to vie for the title this year in his weight class.

The BIIF wrestling venue moves to Kealakehe on Saturday with an all schools meet starting at 10 am.

 

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island, 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