HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
The grappler has a chance at a combined 15 state and OIA titles
Tani Ader, a member of both the varsity wrestling and judo teams at Farrington High School, is on pace to become Hawaii's most decorated prep grappler.
The junior has already racked up five Oahu Interscholastic Association and four state tournament titles between the two sports. If she can claim gold in this season's state judo tournament on May 19 at the Stan Sheriff Center, and then run the table in both sports next year, she will surpass the current mark of five state titles (four in wrestling and one in judo) held by Moanalua's Caylene Valdez.
But first, Ader and the Governors are preparing for this Saturday's OIA individual championship meet at Leilehua High School.
EVERY afternoon in the Farrington High School gym, the rhythmic slaps and thumps of bodies slamming onto thick foam mats echo throughout the cavernous building.
Tucked away in the back of the gym, just under the "Home of the Governors" banner, the Farrington judo team prepares for Saturday's Oahu Interscholastic Association individual championship meet. The gym has become the home away from home for Tani Ader, a member of the squad who not only tangles with opponents but also with the possibility of becoming one of Hawaii's most decorated prep grapplers.
The junior judoka and wrestler is fresh off leading the girls wrestling team to a state title in March, and will help Farrington defend its girls state judo championship May 19 at the Stan Sheriff Center. But Ader's contribution to both teams is made clear by her array of individual championships.
As a wrestler, Ader won OIA titles in the 108- , 114- and 120-pound weight classes in her three years of varsity competition. While she claimed a runner-up finish in the state tournament as a freshman, Ader took state gold in both her sophomore and junior campaigns.
And though her laundry list of wrestling accolades alone is impressive, Ader's additional accomplishments as a judoka put her in a class all her own.
In her freshman and sophomore seasons, Ader took first in the OIA and state tournaments at the 114- and 115-pound divisions. While it is far from a done deal, if Ader can manage to take the league and state's top prize again this year, and then run the table in both sports as a senior next year, she will have won a combined eight OIA and seven individual state titles.
According to Hawaii High School Athletic Association archives, Moanalua's Caylene Valdez holds the record for combined wrestling and judo titles with five -- four from wrestling, and one in judo.
"I always think about it even though I try not to," said Ader of her run at history. "I like to win, so it makes me want to train harder to beat people who are good. It makes me nervous when people bring that up, so I try to not let it get to my head."
THIS SEASON, Ader moved up to the 122-pound division. She hopes to brave the competition yet again and win her third individual OIA crown on Saturday at Leilehua High School. But in order to do so, she will most likely have to get past McKinley senior Lianne Tomishima, a three-time defending OIA and state judo champion.
"I'm looking forward to playing Lianne Tomishima because I kind of moved up (in weight) to face her," Ader said.
As a freshman, Ader defeated Tomishima in the OIA East championship meet, and did so again by a close margin in the preseason this year.
"I'm looking to control her grip, get my grip and just keep attacking without trying to stall and do good throws," Ader said of Saturday's anticipated matchup. "I'll try to use combinations of back and forward throws, and to control her on the mat."
Ader started judo at age 6 in the Hawaii Tenri Judo Club in Nuuanu, and the experience snowballed into an infatuation with the sport.
"I used to just watch people play judo, and it looked cool, so I wanted to join," Ader recalls. "It gave me good discipline, too."
Despite her training schedule with the Farrington team under the tutelage of coaches Whitney Elizaga and Darren Reyes, Ader still continues to work out at Tenri three nights per week, as well as with the Tokai Judo Club twice a week. So, after her 3:45 to 6 p.m. practice at Farrington five days a week, she hustles to her second practice of the evening, which usually runs until 9 p.m.
"She's very ambitious and when she has a goal, she has to make it," Elizaga said. "Her attitude is really good, and she practices a lot. She knows that in judo, you can lose any match in 5 seconds. Just because you're good, you still have to train and she knows that. She has it in her mind that there's always room for improvement; you can't be perfect."
With such a hectic training regimen in addition to a full class load, Ader dedicates as much of the free time that she does have to studying. Right after school she goes to the library, or stays in during her lunch break to get homework done, and then finishes the rest after practice. While the work sometimes keeps Ader up close to midnight, she lives just minutes away from school, so she tries to sleep in as much as possible before starting the routine again when the school bell sounds at 8 a.m.
"When I finally win, it's a relief knowing that all my sacrifices and hard work are paying off," Ader said. "If I wasn't going to all those practices I wouldn't be winning as much. I'd rather win."
Despite her athletic achievements, Ader has not taken her studies lightly. She enjoys the challenges presented in her chemistry class and learning about world history; she holds a particular interest in the World War II era.
"I'm trying my hardest to get good grades because when I go to college, they're not only going to look at how well I do in sports," Ader said.