HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING
Wrestlers vying for state titles
Nohara and Watase can wrap up their fourth straight championships
In the art of combat, few champions will let a single word stray.
In fact, when it comes to wrestling, the norm is as follows:
» Most coaches never accept the status of being the favorite.
» Fear, of missing the cut at weigh-in, of a severe mistake on the mat, of anything in general, cannot be ignored.
» Nearly every wrestler has no clue what his or her exact overall win-loss record is, or won't admit to knowing it.
When the Chevron/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships begin tomorrow, there will be top seeds in 25 classes -- 14 on the boys side, 11 in the girls tournament.
Only two of them, Randolyn "Hoku" Nohara of Kamehameha and Carla Watase of Iolani, have a chance to win a fourth state crown.
Punahou is the favorite in the boys team competition, though Kamehameha gave the Buffanblu a run in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships last weekend.
Challengers from the Oahu Interscholastic Association and Maui Interscholastic League could make it very interesting. Kaiser captured the OIA title, upsetting perennial powerhouse Kahuku.
"We have a big group of sophomores who came in last year as freshmen," longtime coach Mike Kim said. "This is a tough sport, and normally, we lose a lot of the freshmen. This group stuck it out. That's what makes 'em special."
Baldwin squeezed in to win the MIL championship. Dark-horse contenders include Aiea, Pearl City, Saint Louis, Iolani and Lahainaluna.
Kim, now in his 16th year as head coach, sees the road to a state title through Buffanblu-tinted glasses.
"Punahou is so strong. On paper, everyone else is fighting for second," he said. "For us to win it, it'll take a lot of help from other teams. Punahou has qualified all 14 of their wrestlers.
"In preseason, they were
head and shoulders ahead of everybody, but that gap has closed. Come state-tournament time, anything can happen. We just want to be in position to have a chance."
Kahuku, which won the OIA girls title, is a consensus favorite. Farrington, which lost to the Red Raiders by only six points, is also loaded with talent and experience.
Iolani won the ILH girls title last weekend, edging Kamehameha by only two points. Leadership is a key component for the Raiders, who do not suit up anyone at 125 and 170.
"We've had great leadership," coach Yoshi Honda said, referring to Watase. "In basketball and some other sports, you can do a lot for your teammates. In wrestling, it's very rare to make people around you better and that's what she does."
Honda has seen just about everything in his years as a wrestler and coach. After winning three state titles at Radford, he was an assistant at Iolani for 13 seasons under Carl Schroers before taking the helm for the past decade. His biggest concern after Iolani won the league title on Saturday was the seeding process that followed on Sunday.
He came away from the HHSAA meeting satisfied.
One of the more closely watched divisions could be the boys 145, where Richard Torres of Kahuku and Josh Plechaty of Punahou could square off. Torres and Plechaty have banged heads many times already this season. In his three seasons, Torres has two second-place finishes and a third. Plechaty won the 103 class as a freshman, but didn't place as a sophomore (119) and was fourth last season at 140.
"We both want it pretty badly," Plechaty said.
Aside from Punahou, Lahainaluna's boys are sitting comfortably with 10 qualified wrestlers, all of whom will have a bye through the qualifying round. Only four Lunas will wrestle in the opening round for qualification.
Other boys teams look like this: Kamehameha, nine (plus four unqualified); Kahuku, eight (plus two); Iolani, eight (plus two): Kaiser, seven (plus four); Punahou, five (plus eight); Saint Louis, five (plus five).
The girls numbers favor the powers: Kahuku, nine (all qualified); Farrington, nine (all qualified); Iolani, eight (plus one); Kamehameha, seven (plus two); Lahainaluna, six (plus two).
"Wrestling is won on the backside," said former Pac-Five coach Keith Matsumoto, who assists the HHSAA. "So, one kid who pins in a match in the consolation bracket can make a big difference.
"People might not understand how important that is. That's why it's the ultimate team sport."
State Wrestling: Division by Division
Here's a breakdown of the top wrestlers, all league champions, in each weight class.
1. Taylor Ibera, Farrington; 2. Macy Yonamine, Kamehameha; 3. Renee Michell, Kealakehe; 4. Lianne Gumboc, Baldwin.
Pin points: Ibera won the consolation title last year. ... Gumboc lost in the qualifying round. ... Yonamine dominated the ILH meet with two falls followed by a 14-0 win in the final.
1. Keiko Akamine, Iolani; 2. Ren Yamashita, Aiea; 3. Alexandra Aoki, Konawaena; 4. Maria Sedano, Lanai.
Pin points: Akamine had won by fall twice, then won her ILH title match 9-1. She lost in last year's state final to Castle's Candace Sakamoto. ... Yamashita was ousted in the qualifying round of states last season.
1. Carla Watase, Iolani; 2. Tehani Ibarra, St. Anthony; 3. Samantha Batoon, Farrington; 4. Bethly Carmelotes, Kealakehe.
Pin points: Watase won titles at 98 and 103 (twice) and has a 134-2 career record in Hawaii. Observers believe Batoon could push Watase, however. ... Ibarra reached the quarterfinal round last year.
1. Megan Morisada, Iolani; 2. Victoria Milanio, Lahainaluna; 3. Shina Tohara, Kealakehe; 4. Joy Yamashita, Aiea.
Pin points: Morisada won three tight matches, including a 4-3 win over Danica Auna (Kahuku) last year to win the crown. She got past Reiko Campos 2-0 in the ILH final on Saturday.
1. Tani Ader, Farrington; 2. Raena Campos, Kamehameha; 3. Alyssa Morimoto, Baldwin; 4. Danielle Hubbard, Konawaena.
Pin points: Ader was second in the state as a freshman (108) and won the crown as a sophomore (114). ... Campos, the younger sister of Reiko, reached the state final last season before losing to Chirae Pascua of Mililani. ... Morimoto reached the state quarterfinals at 114 last year.
1. Danica Auna, Kahuku; 2. Ariella Ing, Moanalua; 3. Kiana Parilla, Kamehameha; 4. Mary Brzezowski, Kamehameha-Hawaii.
Pin points: Auna moved up two classes after taking the 114 title a year ago. ... Ing pinned her first two foes last year in the 130 division before losing in the final to Piikea Kalalau (Baldwin). ... Parilla reached the 130 quarterfinals last year. This season, she pinned both opponents in the ILH championships. ... Brzezowski lost in the first round of the 114 class last season.
1. Piikea Kalalau, Baldwin; 2. Amanda Keliihoomalu, Kahuku; 3. Jt Ojerio, Punahou; 4. Grillena Jack, Hilo.
Pin points: Kalalau is the defending champ in this class. ... Keliihoomalu lost in the first round of the 125 class last year. ... Ojerio made it to the 125 quarterfinals last time. She pinned both foes at the ILH championships. ... Jack lost in the first round of the 140 division last year.
1. Kara Takasaki, Punahou; 2. Stephanie Geltmacher, Kalaheo; 3. Jaime "Hoku" Kubota, Kamehameha-Maui, 4. Erenia Michell, Kealakehe.
Pin points: Takasaki was dominant last year, pinning all of her foes en route to the state title. She also pinned her foes in Saturday's ILH championships. ... Geltmacher lost to Takasaki in last year's quarterfinals. ... Kubota lost in last season's first round to Geltmacher. 155
1. Amanda Soliai, Kahuku; 2. Kulia McGurn, Kamehameha-Maui; 3. Lindsey Tufono, Iolani; 4. Kacie Davis, Kamehameha-Hawaii.
Pin points: Soliai pinned her first three foes before losing to Moanalua's Alicia Fu 2-1 in last year's state final. ... Tufono, daughter of former Iolani football standout Junior Tufono, lost in the quarterfinals of the 175 class last year. ... McGurn lost in the first round last season.
1. Ashlee Lilo, Farrington; 2. Kailee Andrade, Baldwin; 3. Ariel Moniz, Hilo; 4. Rebecca Jong, Punahou.
Pin points: Lilo dropped down a class this year after losing in last season's 220 semifinals to Iolani's Olivia Fatongia. ... Andrade reached the quarterfinals last season. ... Moniz lost in the first round last year. ... Jong was in the 155 class last season, falling to Alicia Fu in the quarterfinals.
1. Randolyn "Hoku" Nohara, Kamehameha; 2. Olivia Fatongia, Iolani; 3. Vicky Green, Waianae; 4. Naoli Weller, Hilo.
Pin points: Nohara has been unstoppable throughout her career, but has experienced some level of resistance from Fatongia in the past.
1. Jordan Lai, Saint Louis; 2. Robbie Herbst, Baldwin; 3. Jason Spiker, Kaiser; 4. Keian Shon, Hilo.
Pin points: Lai is undefeated, on track after losing in the state quarterfinals last season. ... Herbst reached the semifinals last season before losing to Punahou's Bryson Fukushima. ... Shon lost in the qualifying round last year. ... Lai's toughest foe could be Brysson Morita of Iolani, who lost to Lai 4-3 in the ILH final.
1. Mark Caberto, Saint Louis; 2. Richie Mitchell, Honokaa; 3. Bill Takeuchi, Pearl City; 4. Rodrigo Tabladillo Jr., Lahainaluna.
Pin points: Caberto (30-1) reached the semifinal round last year. ... Mitchell lost in last year's first round in the 103 division. ... Takeuchi lost in last year's 103 quarterfinals. ... Bryson Fukushima of Punahou could be a sleeper. Last year's state 103 champ lost to Caberto 3-2 in the ILH final.
1. Reid Oshiro, Punahou; 2. Branden Mina, Waipahu; 3. Stanley Nakamura, Kamehameha-Maui; 4. Nick Lafarga, Kealakehe.
Pin points: Oshiro is back after finishing second at 112 last year to Mina, who drew the second seed in this class. ... Nakamura lost in the first round at 112 last season to Nick Matayoshi (Iolani). ... Lafarga reached the 112 quarterfinals last year. ... Matayoshi is a dark horse here after losing to Oshiro in the ILH final 1-0.
1. Travis Okano, Lahainaluna; 2. Arnold Toriumi, Punahou; 3. Chad Diamond, Mililani; 4. Ryan Higa, Waiakea.
Pin points: Okano was the 119 champion a year ago. ... Diamond was ousted in the qualifying round last season.
1. Jaysen Patao, Baldwin; 2. Keani Nishigaya, Saint Louis, 3. Leonard Transfiguracion, Kealakehe; 4. Chayne Chang, Farrington.
Pin points: Patao reached the 125 final last year. ... Nishigaya was fifth at 119 in 2005 and third at 125 last season. He was dominant in the ILH championships and is 24-0. ... Transfiguracion is the latest in a line of outstanding brothers from West Hawaii. He lost in the quarterfinals last year. ... Chang was ousted in the 119 quarterfinals last year.
1. Kamaehu Matsuoka, Konawaena; 2. Kelii Palencia, Kamehameha; 3. Matthew Higa, Aiea; 4. Chris Kaleikini, Baldwin.
Pin points: Still one of the most competitive divisions, Matsuoka reached the semifinal round last year. ... Palencia jumped three divisions after placing second at 119 last season. ... Higa lost in the first round last year. ... Kaleikini reached the 130 semifinals.
1. Daniel Chow, Punahou; 2. Reynell Transfiguracion, Kealakehe; 3. Brock Bal, Aiea; 4. Daniel Quinlan, Lahainaluna.
Pin points: Chow, last year's 135 champion, won't have to face nemesis Richard Torres (145). Neither will Transfiguracion, who lost to Torres in the 135 quarterfinals. ... Bal lost in the first round at 135. ... Kamehameha's Omar Mirza, who pushed Chow to the edge in the ILH final, is a definite contender.
1. Richard Torres, Kahuku; 2. Josh Plechaty, Punahou; 3. Cody Mendoza, King Kekaulike; 4. Junior Fisher, Hawaii Prep.
Pin points: Fisher lost in last year's qualifying round.
1. Lake Casco, Lahainaluna; 2. Garrett Cockett, Moanalua; 3. Brad Tamashiro, Hilo; 4. Shane Irish, Iolani.
Pin points: Casco lost in the 145 semifinals last year. ... Cockett reached the semifinal round. ... Irish made it to the 140 semifinals.
1. Clinton Manley, Molokai; 2. Lowen Tynanes-Perez, Campbell; 3. Keola Williams, Iolani; 4. Tyson Anderson, Keaau.
Pin points: Manley is back to defend his title. ... Tynanes-Perez advanced to the 152 semifinals a year ago. ... Williams lost in the quarterfinals last season.
1. Landon Kerbow, King Kekaulike; 2. Clinton Criado, Kaiser; 3. Truman Chun, Kamehameha; 4. Luke Knittle, Konawaena.
Pin points: Kerbow is back after losing to Mike Egesdal in the final last year. ... Chun went to the semifinal round, where he lost to Kerbow. ... Knittle lost in the first round. ... Iolani's James Fitzpatrick is the dark horse after losing to Chun by just one point in the ILH final.
1. Daymon Carr, Kahuku; 2. Brandon Kingsbury-Santiago, Kealakehe; 3. Jamin Meletia, Kamehameha; 4. Keloni Kamalani, Kamehameha-Maui.
Pin points: Carr was a semifinalist in the 152 class last year. ... Cody Kamakana of Iolani is clearly a contender. He lost to Meletia in the ILH final, 5-3.
1. Kazden Ikehara, Kamehameha; 2. Mike Walter, Maui; 3. Joshua Schippman, Waialua; 4. Justin Shiraki, Konawaena.
Pin points: Ikehara was solid en route to the ILH title. He was second last year, losing only to Jared Silva-Purcell of Saint Louis. ... Walter reached the 189 quarterfinals last season. ... Shiraki lost in last year's first round.
1. Mike Mullen, Leilehua; 2. Mykenna Ikehara, Kamehameha; 3. Michael Pohina, Kamehameha-Hawaii; 4. Gregory Puaoi, Molokai.
Pin points: Mullen lost in the 215 quarterfinals last year. ... Ikehara lost in the qualifying round last season, as did Pohina. ... Puaoi made it to the quarterfinals. ... Saint Louis' Ana Tuiasosopo, who lost in sudden death to Ikehara in the ILH final, is another serious contender.