Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Three BIIF Wrestlers Make Finals of HHSAA Wrestling State Championships

Aoki

Three Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestlers had a shot at making history during Saturday’s Hawaii High School Athletic Federation state championships held at the Blaisdell Arena on Oahu.

Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy the defending state heavyweight champion, Konawaena’s Sage Aoki, 120, and Keaau’s Cheyden Quiocho, 135, all took center stage to wrestle for a state championship.

In the final championship match of the day it was Paleka-Kennedy needing to get by Molokai’s Spencer Basa in order to repeat as state champion as the two largest boys, 285, in the championships took to the mat.

“This one is even sweeter than last year,” Paleka-Kennedy said of his second state crown.  “I had a huge target coming into this year’s championship as everyone was after me, so it means so much more to win.”

Paleka-Kennedy won the championship finale by a score of 5-2 earning his points on an escape, a takedown and on technical points when the referee called Basa for stalling.

“I had to work really hard as there was good competition,” Paleka-Kennedy said.  “All the hard work, putting in the long hours paid off today.”

Paleka-Kennedy ended his high school athletic career on top as he will shift his focus on other things.

The Warrior senior earned his way into the finals by winning four matches, three by pin and the other on points.

“I will concentrate on football and academics for the rest of the year as I prepare to attend Arizona Western of a football scholarship,” he said.

Aoki, a senior, looked at facing Maryknoll’s Brendan Chang to earn his first ever state championship.

“This was my last chance to win the state championship and I gave it everything I could,” Aoki said.  “My sister, Alexandra, finished two state championships as a runner up and I wanted to win it all.”

Aoki went the full three rounds in the finals to earn the victory by a 3 to 1 score.

“I got a take down in the first period using a single leg to earn two points then in the second period  got another point when the ref said there was a technical violation,” Aoki said.

Aoki needed to win three matches during the two day tournament to earn the right to face Chang in the finals.

“I wrestled some really good guys and won my matches by take downs using the tilt move,” Aoki said.

The Wildcat credited his judo experience as preparing him to be a better defensive wrestler.

“Judo gave me good defensive skills as I kept my distance when my opponents tried to shoot on me,” he said.  “I had seen him (Chang) wrestle and I knew I needed to stay away from being tied up.”

“This was a huge win for me,” Aoki said after the finals.  “I had finished fourth last year and I really wanted this one.”

Quiocho had the most pressure on his back as the senior Cougar was attempting to become the first state champion in the school’s history.

“I knew what was at stake and winning the state championship is a goal that I had set coming into the season,” Quiocho said.  “I wanted to be the first state champion in our schools history and I worked really hard this season to achieve it.”

Standing in the way of Quiocho’s dream was Mililani’s Chase Tantog as the pair squared off on the mat.

“I tried and gave it my all, so I can’t grumble,” Quiocho said of his second place medal.

The Cougar lost a close battle by a 5 to 2 score and it was his second loss of the season to Tantog.

“He used the same move on me that he did at Leilehua earlier in the season,” he said.  “I should have been better prepared when he came at me with using the broom stick move, but I wasn’t ready for it.”

Quiocho earned his way to the finals by winning three matches all in convincing fashion by scores of 16-2, 14-4 and 5-2.

“I wasn’t happy after the finals match but I don’t deserve what I don’t earn,” Quiocho said. 

The 2010 HHSAA state champion, Kamehameha’s Megan Aina, 103, lost one match and finished third overall.

“I ended up losing to this year’s state champion from Aiea by two points,” Aina said.  “In the third place match I won by a pin in the second round.”

Aina went for her classic chicken wing move in her attempt for the third place medal.

“The chicken wing worked for me the entire season, but when I went for it today it wasn’t there,” she said.  “So I had to roll her over and press her down to get the pin.”

Waiakea junior Pat Enos, 152, also claimed a third place medal by a 6-4 score in a  sweet victory over Kamehameha-Kapalama’s Andrew Kahalewai who had beat him last year in the HHSAA championships third place match.

“Last year he won by one point and I finished fourth,” Enos said.  “I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out because I got the early lead on a takedown and then put him on his back in the second period.”

Kamehameha’s Welina Tong, 175, was the biggest surprise as the first year wrestler lost only one match over the two days to claim a third place medal.

“My only goal was to win the BIIF title, so today was just something extra,” Tong said.  “I won four of my matches by pin using just basic, simple moves like the half.”

Other BIIF wrestlers to make it to day two of the HHSAA were:

Konawaena:  Justin Raymond 108, Aimee Shiraki 220

Hilo High:      Kaylan “Lahi” Kanakanui 140

Kamehameha:  Chantel Pohina 130, Jasmine Iuta 155,    Sky “Nalu” Kekona Souza 120

 Kealakehe:      Robin Arellano 114,  Allin Franco 140

  Waiakea:       Kara Nakayama  103, Tanalei Louis 125,  

    Kau:             Keani Mello-Waiwaiole 220

 HPA:              Troy Choi 215

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/17-biif-wrestlers-headed-to-day-2-in-hhsaa-state-championships/

March 4, 2012 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 from Konawaena – Who let the Cats Out?

Troy Gibson Jr., gains an advantage over his Wildcat opponent

Who let the Cats Out?   That’s what wrestlers from around the Big Island Interscholastic Federation were wondering when they exited the Konawaena Gym on Saturday after a grueling day on the mats.The host Wildcats were short on numbers and experience, according to Coach Mark Aoki, but huge on heart and determination as Sage Aoki, 120, Justin Raymond, 108, and Aimee Shiraki, 220, came up with big matches.Shiraki was unstoppable going 3-0 while winning all of her matches by pins against formidable opponents from Kau, Pahoa and Hilo.“I like the outside single move,” Shiraki said.  “Sometimes I get too ambitious with my moves and get caught off balance.”Shiraki attributes a great part of her wrestling success to judo as the sophomore comes onto the mat as the BIIF defending judo champion.Judo has definitely helped me in wrestling,” she said.  “I like wrestling because it is different and I like the competition and the chance to meet new people.”

Shiriki

Shiraki made it to the state championships last year as a freshman, but missed medaling by one match.

“My goal is to make it back to states this time around and to hopefully medal,” Shiraki said.

Aoki and Raymond are defending BIIF champions and they looked primed to repeat, having extremely competitive     matches which should pay big dividends by the end of the season.

Gibson

Kamehameha sophomore Troy Gibson, wrestling at 135, had a perfect day on the mat winning all three of his matches, two by pin and the other by 17-0 score.

“I beat two Pahoa and one Kona guy,” Gibson said.  “My favorite pinning combination is the cradle move, but I still need to work on my cardio.”

According to Gibson he has been building endurance by running on his own before practice and working on his muscle mass by doing weight training with his father.

“I’ve always liked wrestling since middle school because I like the one on one action and there are no excuses when you lose,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s goals for the season are straight forward.

“My goal is to be the best student athlete that I can be,” he said.  “I’m not looking beyond just being the best that I can possible be.”

Souza vs Aoki

In what is considered the premiere match up of the day it was Kona’s Sage Aoki going against Kamehameha’s Nalu Kekona-Souza.

Aoki is the defending BIIF champion at 108 and bumped up a weight class to challenge the slightly bigger Souza at 125.

“I admire Sage for bumping up to face one of the best wrestlers in the league,” Warrior Coach Brendan Courtot said.  “Sage wrestled up to challenge himself and gain better competition.”

The tough match up against Kekona-Souza went the distance with Souza winning on points by a score of 14 to 3.

Kekona-Souza went a perfect 3-0 in Kona and believes that his match up with Aoki was the best that he can find in the BIIF.

“Sage is great competition and when he gets on top he is a hammer as he always comes into the match with the right attitude.”

Kekona-Souza is the two time defending BIIF champion at 120 pounds, but will look to win his third league title at 125.

“I’m hoping to be a three time BIIF champion and to go on to win a state title,” he said.  “I came in second at states this past year at 120 and I’m pretty happy with my wrestling performance, but I still want to get better.”

Kekona-Souza is a perfect 6-0 in BIIF completion this season and beat Aoki by using a single leg take down, putting the Wildcat on his back to score enough points to be awarded the tough win.

Also delivering a perfect 3-0 record in the Wildcat gym was Kamehameha’s Charlie Aina in the 130 weight class.

“I had wins against Pahoa, Keaau and Kona with my toughest match coming against the Kona wrestler,” Aina said.

Aina, a junior, won his first match by a 17-2 score and pinned his Keaau opponent before going the distance in his third and final match to scratch out a narrow 4-2 victory.

“In most of my wins I use an ankle pick,” Aina said.  “I have good endurance and I have really good conditioning which helped me in my final match on Saturday.”

Aina also comes from a judo background which helps him in his wrestling.

“I condition year round for judo and I run on my own and lift weights on the weekends,” Aina said.

“I’m hoping I can take the BIIF title, but I know I need to improve my attacks as I tend to wait too long,” Aina said.

If Aina’s last name sounds familiar it is because sister, Megan Aina, is a former state wrestling champion who continues to make great strides in her mat performance at Kamehameha.

Present in the Wildcat gym, but staying on the bleachers was Waiakea standout Tanalei Louis at 130.  Louis is a perfect 9 and 0 in BIIF competition but decided to sit out at Kona.

“I’m nursing an ear infection and just wanted to watch and cheer on my team,” Louis said.  “I should be ready to compete next week when we are at Keaau.”

The BIIF wrestling season continues on Saturday with an all-schools meet at Keaau starting at 10 am.

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BIIF wrestlers do well at Officials Preseason Tournament at Leilehua, Oahu

Kamehameha ladies do well at Officials Meet

Officials Preseason Tournament – Leilehua, Oahu

Name

School

wt.

Place

Megan Aina

Kamehameha

103

1

Jasmine Iuta

Kamehameha

175

1

Nalu Kekona-Souza

Kamehameha

120

4

Charles Aina

Kamehameha

130

8

Troy Gibson

Kamehameha

135

8

Chantel Pohina

Kamehameha

140

4

Alexia-Marie Osburn

Kamehameha

155

3

Noelle Pohina

Kamehameha

125

8

Kanoe Padakin

Kamehameha

114

8

Jacob Blanco

Waiakea

125

3

Sage Aoiki

Kona

120

2

Cheydon Quiocho

Keaau

140

2

Allin Franco

Kealakehe

140

4

Winton Palik

Kealakehe

285

6

Allison Felix

Kealakehe

155

1

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kamehameha’s Paleka-Kennedy wins state heavyweight wrestling title

BIIF heavyweight champ, Paleka-Kennedy, 2nd from left, becomes state champion

Big Island wrestlers were well represented in the finals of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championship on Saturday held in Honolulu at the Blaisdell Arena.

“We’re especially pleased with our performance,” an elated Coach Brendan Courtot said of his Kamehameha Warriors.

Heavyweight, Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, weighed in at 284.8 pounds and dominated his 287 weight class to become the Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s lone state champion.

The BIIF had four wrestlers enter the finals to compete for an individual state title.

“Last year our boys had only one wrestler, Nalu Souza, place in the top six as he finished fourth,” Courtot said. 

Paleka-Kennedy realized after day one that he had a shot at winning it all.

“Once I won my first two matches on Friday it gave me the confidence to know that I could win the state title,” Paleka-Kennedy said.

In the final match of the day Paleka-Kennedy went against Pearl City’s Devin Ching and managed to pin him during the second round.

“My coaches told me to stay in good position and don’t go chasing,” Paleka-Kennedy said. 

The state championship pin came when Paleka-Kennedy used his hips to take his opponent down on his back.

“I used a head and arm move while he was on his back to get the pin,” he said.  “Everyone here is an athlete and you have to compete hard to win.  I’m very happy I came out on top.”

Tanalei Louis

Along with Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy, in the finals were teammates Nalu Souza (122) and Rustee Ann Johansen (132) with Konawaena’s Tanalei Louis, (127).

What stood in the way for Johansen and Louis were the Chow sisters, Chrissy and Mindy, from Punahou.

The Chow’s are state judo champions and also hold co national titles in wrestling. The Big Island girls needed to somehow manage to get past the Chow’s accolades if they were going to win a state title of their own.

Louis, a sophomore who finished third in the state last year, went head to head against Chrissy Chow and gave her everything she had.

The match was probably the best of the day according to Courtot, as Louis and Chow were tied at the end of regulation 3-3.

“I knew her and her reputation prior to going into the match,” Louis said. 

Chow got a take down during over time and with it the state title.

“I feel great and well accomplished,” Louis said.  “I’m probably the happiest person on earth and I don’t have any regrets about the match.”

Johansen, who placed 5th in the state last year, found herself in the title match needing to out maneuver the more experienced Mindy Chow.

“This is my senior year and I just wanted to do my best,” Johansen said. 

During last year’s match Chow pinned Johansen in the first round, so the Warrior was determined to avoid the same fate this year.

“I feel very accomplished,” Johansen said of her technical fall, 15-0, loss to Chow.  “She is a lot stronger and quicker than I am, but she couldn’t pin me.”

Despite the loss Johansen felt content with the overall results saying, “I have no regrets.”  “I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” she said.

Nalu Souza

Kamehameha’s Nalu Souza went against Kaiser’s Ryan Nakagawa in a seesaw nail biting match.

At the end of the first round the boys were scoreless with Souza trying to take control on his feet. 

“I took the lead at the start of the second round with an escape, but during the third round he took me down and I ended up losing 5-3,” Souza said.

 “I feel like I wrestled my hardest and I put everything on the line.  He (Nakagawa) was more experienced in competition and that gave him the edge over me,” Souza said.

The only defending state champion representing the Big Island Interscholastic Federation was Kamehameha’s Megan Aina (100) who faltered during the semi finals and found herself winning fifth place.

Other BIIF wrestlers coming away with medals (the top six wrestlers in each of the 14 boys and 11 girl’s weight divisions’ medal) were:

Kamehameha’s Justin Hirae (127) 5th.

Waiakea’s Pat Enos (147) 4th,   Tyler Yonemori (142) 3rd, and Tracy Poch (177) 5th.

Hilo’s Jordan Enos (132) 5th and Max Oishi (137) 6th.

Kona’s Sage Aoki (122) 4th.

Keaau’s Cheyden Quiocho (135) 4th.

The Kamehameha boys and girls teams led the BIIF teams in total scoring with a strong finish in overall results.

“I’m excited about our improvement from year to year,” Courtot said.  “Once we get to this point there is nothing I can do except worry and add a few more grey hairs.”

The Punahou boys and girls swept the team titles with their boy’s team having now won five consecutive state titles and their girls winning their third straight.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment