OIA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Yamaguchi upsets defending state champion to capture the 120-pound title
In this, her first year of competitive wrestling, Kalani sophomore Megan Yamaguchi was just supposed to be getting her feet wet. Instead, Yamaguchi pulled off the biggest upset of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Wrestling Championships yesterday, defeating state champion and two-time OIA titlist Danica Auna of Kahuku 6-5 to win the league's 120-pound crown.
"When I came into the season my coach said that I should use this first year of wrestling to get all the butterflies out, and set some goals for my junior and senior years," Yamaguchi said. "It feels so good. I guess I had played her so many times this year, I really didn't expect to beat her, but my coaches, my teammates, they really helped me prepare for this."
The championship is not the first for Yamaguchi, who is also the defending state judo champion at 115 pounds.
Other favorites secured much better fates for themselves. The Kaiser boys won their second consecutive OIA team title under coach Mike Kim -- the program's eighth overall -- outscoring Pearl City 208-178.
"Last year was real exciting for us, finally breaking through," said Kim, the 1980 state champion at 105 pounds. "This year, it feels good to show that last year wasn't a fluke. The flu bug was going around and some of it got into our room -- not everybody was healthy for us. It's a testament to all of the kids, they've been working hard all season and they all deserved it."
The Cougars were sparked once again by Jordan Spiker (103 pounds), who opened the championship round with a win, just as he did at last year's league championships. Spiker was one of six Kaiser wrestlers to advance to the finals. He was followed to the victory stand by teammates Tyler King (125) and Byron Apo (130).
"Going into the finals, we were up 30 points in the team standings," King said. "We had six guys in the finals and we knew it would be tough for Pearl City to catch us. We competed well as a team and had some good surprises. Our guy at 112 (Brantly Yakabe) was in JV the whole year and he made it to the finals today."
Kahuku's girls also repeated, giving the Red Raiders their fifth OIA title in the last six seasons, as Kalae Johnson (108 pounds) and Amanda Soliai captured individual titles. The win was Soliai's second at 155 pounds, making her one of six grapplers to add another OIA title to their resumes. Spiker, Farrington's Taylor Iberra (98 pounds), Pearl City's Bill Takeuchi (112), and Lowen Tynanes (171) of Kailua also repeated.
Farrington senior phenom Tani Ader took home her fourth OIA championship while competing in her fourth different weight class, defeating Cianah Hee of Kahuku in the finals for the second straight year. Ader, also a two-time state champ, has now claimed league titles at 108, 114, 120 and 125 pounds.
The top eight wrestlers in each weight class from the OIA tournament advance to next weekend's Chevron/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Blaisdell Arena, set to begin on Friday.
"Punahou won it last year, and they'll be the heavily favored again to win it all again," Kim said. "Kamehameha is looking tough, too. It'll be hard for an OIA school to knock them off. This week we want to get everybody healthy again and make a run at it."