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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

17 BIIF wrestlers headed to day 2 in HHSAA state championships

The following 17 Big Island Interscholastic Federation Wrestlers will be on the mat today (3.3.12) in the finals and consolation brackets of the HHSAA state wrestling championships being held on Oahu

 

Konawaena:  Justin Raymond 108 lb

            Sage Aoki 120 lb

            Aimee Shiraki 220 lb

Hilo High:  Kaylan “Lahi” Kanakanui 140 lb

Kamehameha:  Megan Aina 103 lb, Chantel Pohina 130 lb, Jasmine Iuta 155 lb, Welina Tong 175 lb

      Sky “Nalu” Kekona Souza,       Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy  285 

 Kealakehe:  Robin Arellano 114 lb,  Allin Franco 140 lb

  Keaau:      Cheyden Quiocho 135 lb

   Waiakea:    Kara Nakayama  103 lb, Tanalei Louis  125 lb, Pat Enos

    Kau:        Keani Mello-Waiwaiole 220 lb

    HPA:        Troy Choi 215 lb

March 3, 2012 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Pohina Sisters Dominate on the Mat for Kamehameha

Noelle Pohina

Kamehameha girls continued their dominance on the mat with the Pohina sisters, Noelle and Pomai, leading the way.

Noelle, a sophomore, took the 125 weight division by defeating Kealakehe’s Dayjha Rodriguez in the finals, while sibling Pomai, a junior, beat out teammate Alexia Osburn for top honors in the 140 weight class.

“The Pomai’s are a wrestling ohana as their older brother, Mike, was a two time BIIF champion in 2008 and ’09 for Kamehameha and is now serving our county in the military,” Warrior coach Marlon Miller said.

The Pohina sister’s come to the mat with lots of experience as Pomai won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Championship during her freshman year in the 130 division then finished second last season at 140.

“I’m hoping to win the BIIF title this year at 140,” Pomai said.  “I know I still have lots of areas to work on to improve, especially with my conditioning.”

Pomai’s younger sister didn’t place during last season’s BIIF championship, but came into this season more focused and with high hopes.

Pomai Pohina

“I wasn’t very confident wrestling last year and this year I feel way more confident of myself,” Noelle said.  “A big part of wrestling is mental and that is something that I needed to work on coming into this season.”

During the finals Noelle used that confidence to pin her opponent during the third round to win the Waverider Tournament.

“She (Rodriguez) took a shot and I drove and pushed her over and tried my very best to put pressure on her,” Noelle said of her pin.

“My strength in wrestling is my defense and my coaches say that I need to use more offense and to take more shots.  All I can do is try my very best and I look forward each week to wrestling the best as this helps me to get better.”

Noelle noted that she comes into every match nervous, but once she hits the mat that nervousness disappears as she becomes focused on what she needs to do.

“Our girls performed well at the tournament and I am very pleased with the effort the entire team gave,” the defending BIIF team champion coach said.  “As coaches we ask for and hope to see that every wrestler gives it their all and fights to the very end whether they are on the winning or learning end of the outcome.”

On the boys side of the mat there were some new faces coming up big at Kealakehe as Konawaena swept three weight classes with Justin Raymond, 114, Sage Aoki, 125, and John Postrano, 215.

Postrano, a senior in his third year of wrestling, missed weight and was bumped into the higher division.

“I weighed in at 189.2 pounds and was bumped up,” Postrano said.  “I normally wrestle at 189 so this was a new weight division for me.”

As fortune turned out Postrano won three of his four matches by pin in the higher weight division and claimed his first title during his prep wrestling career. 

During the finals Postrano beat HPA’s Troy Choi by second period pin using a reverse half nelson.

“I came into this season with better technique and an improved mental attitude,” Postrano said.  “I use mental imagery and picture in my mind how I’m going to win, but I know I still have things to work on to get better such as increasing my speed and take downs.”

Host Kealakehe, the BIIF defending boys team champions, didn’t win any weight class individual honors, but had several of their young wrestlers finish in the top three.

Waverider sophomore, Dan Gampon, took on Kamehameha’s defending BIIF champ, Nalu Souza, at 120 pounds and proved himself worthy.

“I knew he was the best in that weight division, but I didn’t underestimate myself and was fearless during the match,” Gampon said.

Gampon was able to keep the match close during the first two periods and was proud of his efforts.

“Nalu led 2-1 at the end of the second round,” Gampon said.  “But during the third round he caught me in a banana split and was able to pin me.”

Despite the loss Gampon felt good about his performance.

“I feel really good about the match because I showed a lot about myself and by wrestling the best it will only make me stronger,” he said.  “I need to train harder to be better and I need to have more intensity while knowing what to do.  I look forward to wrestling Nalu again as I plan on making it closer next time.”

BIIF action returns to the mat on Saturday with West Side schools headed to Honokaa and the East Side meeting at Kamehameha. 

Related links: 

https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/biif-girls-wrestling-results-from-kealakehe/

https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/biif-boys-wrestling-results-from-kealakehe/

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment