Kahuku girls win with second-best total ever
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Two first-place finishes and three runners-up added up to a landslide win for Kahuku in the Chevron/HHSAA Girls Wrestling Championships yesterday at Blaisdell Arena.
The Red Raiders' combined score of 152.5 is second only to the 2004 Farrington Governors' 153.3 for the highest score ever, going back to 1998.
Danica Auna captured the 120-pound class and Amanda Soliai the 155, while Kala'e Johnson, Cianah Hee and Anela Santiago placed second in their divisions to headline Kahuku's fourth overall championship.
Iolani took second at 106 with individual championships from Keiko Akamine and Olivia Fatongia in the 103 and 220 classes, and a runner-up finish by Megan Morisada in the 114.
Punahou placed third with 85 points and a title by freshman Chrissy Chow at 114 pounds.
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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kahuku's Danica Auna, bottom, pinned Kalani's Megan Yamaguchi in the 120-pound division.
That stinging pain in Danica Auna's neck and head meant nothing compared to closing things out the right way.
The Kahuku senior team captain captured the 120-pound girls title over Kalani's Megan Yamaguchi with a pin in yesterday's Chevron/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Blaisdell Arena despite suffering what was diagnosed by team trainers as a concussion early in the match.
Auna earned her second title in two years after triumphing in the 125-pound division as a junior, and willingly dropped her weight class by a notch this year to create the best situation for her team. She and teammate Amanda Soliai (155 pounds) won titles in leading the Red Raiders to the team championship.
A swift reversal to the ground earned Auna four quick points for a 12-5 lead midway through the final round, and Yamaguchi hit her head hard on the mat in the process, flaring up a recurrence of a concussion of her own suffered in the morning semifinals.
The Kalani coaching staff quickly pulled her from the match, and both players headed to the training room in a daze.
"You could never tell (they were concussed)," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. "They went out there with so much adrenaline and heart. You couldn't tell either was injured. That's what the sport does -- it creates tough kids."
Auna avenged her only loss of the season, a 6-5 upset by Yamaguchi in the Oahu Interscholastic Association championships that gave the Falcon the top seed in the division over Auna, a two-time OIA champion. Just moments into the match, though, Auna smacked into the mat face-first when Yamaguchi spun her down from a standing position with nothing to brace her fall, making it feel as though "I had broke my neck."
Her coaches asked her questions during a timeout and Torres intended to pull her out, but Auna seemed aware enough to keep wrestling. There was no question she wanted to continue facing off against the one opponent who bested her, and she rallied to earn her fourth pin in four matches since Friday.
"I was in a trance," said Auna. "I lost to her by one point. I wanted to beat her with all I got. No regrets."
Yamaguchi, a sophomore who started wrestling this season, is also the defending state judo champion at 115 pounds, and gave Auna trouble with her unorthodox style in their last meeting. Auna's loss to her may have been a blessing in disguise, as the Red Raider rededicated herself to training before states and broadened her repertoire of moves. She described it as "a really humbling experience."
"I know she can throw me, so that's kind of scary, She kept tripping my lead leg (in OIAs), I kept falling and she kept getting points," Auna said. "I felt like I didn't give it all I got that time. I was hoping I could (face her) again, because I was really motivated to win this year. (The loss) kind of helped me. Now, you're beating somebody who beat you, you have to do the same to them."
Torres said Auna would only go at her opponent's head much of the season, and Auna did that to control the match easily in her first two meetings with Yamaguchi. But the Falcon sophomore's interruption of her perfect record forced her to get back to basics.
"She went away from her total offense," Torres said. "The Kalani coach scouted her well, and (Yamaguchi) did a great job defending it, and was getting counters. This week (Auna) worked on it. If she backs away from the head attack, then she's got to go for the legs."
Auna repeatedly did that early, but the two grappled to a draw at 4-4 at the end of the first round. As she started mixing things up the Red Raider captain got a takedown to earn an 8-5 lead near the end of the second. Then, in the final round, she broke a stalemate with a final move to take Yamaguchi to the mat. She wasn't even sure what it was called, but Yamaguchi took the worst of it.
Asked about her head afterward, Auna grinned. Apparently, winning had dulled most of the pain.
"I feel a little tired, but I'm fine now," she said.
BACK TO TOP
Individual championship capsules reported by Paul Honda
Def. No. 1 Renee Michell (Konawaena) 8-2
In a rematch of last year's final, Ibera's quickness and strength were factors from the start.
She nearly pinned the defending champ with 35 seconds left in the opening period, but she escaped after struggling for several seconds. Midway through the second period, Ibera had a 5-0 lead.
"I wanted to rough her up early. Last year, she played with my head," Ibera said of a slow start in the '07 final.
"She gave up points early," Farrington coach Darren Reyes said of the 2007 loss. "She ended up chasing."
Ibera, a junior, finished the season 24-0 and is 99-6 overall. "I listened to my coaches and played smart," she said.
Def. Macy Yonamine (Kamehameha) 4-2
Akamine captured her second straight championship at 103 pounds by outlasting Yonamine in a defensive struggle. It was a valiant effort by the Warrior, who returned from an injury just one week before the Interscholastic League of Honolulu finals.
Then, as it was last night, Akamine had to be patient. "I had a hard time getting my shots against her. She has really good balance," the junior said. Yonamine spent a good deal of energy trying to pull away while Akamine had a hold on her legs and feet.
The second year as a champion wasn't quite the same. "I'm relieved. This time there was a lot more pressure. Last year, I had something to prove," Akamine said. "This year, I had something to defend."
Def. No. 1 Kala'e Johnson (Kahuku), 5-1
Rozet used her length and strength to control Johnson in a battle of dominant wrestlers. Rozet, who suffered a dislocated elbow last year at midseason, came back and went 28-0 this year.
"I tried to take what's given. I didn't want to force anything," Rozet said. "I just tried to see the openings."
It was a matter of sheer physical combat. Rozet had no scouting report, no prior experience against Johnson.
The Warrior senior hopes to wrestle at Pacific (Ore.) next season.
Rozet's dominance didn't change at states. She defeated Zoey Spear-Takakua of Hawaii Prep by pin, blanked Tani Mashima of Kamehameha 13-0, and beat Tehani Ibarra of St. Anthony by pin.
Def. No. 2 Megan Morisada (Iolani) 3-2
Chow rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the final period and fought off the unseeded Raider for the win.
Morisada was unseeded, but was also the defending champion at 114. She won the 108 title in '06.
Chow was superb, however, and is only a freshman. "I'm happy because some of the other (Punahou) girls didn't get to the finals. This is for them," Chow said.
She pointed out that a reversal move gave her the lead in the final period. Then it was a matter of hanging on for dear life. "She's really strong and has really good technique," she said.
Chow kept a lock around Morisada's head for most of the final 2 minutes. "I was just trying my best," said Chow, the younger sister of Daniel Chow.
Def. No. 1 Megan Yamaguchi (Kalani), pin
Auna, who won the 120 title last year, faced another epic battle with Yamaguchi, who eliminated Auna at the Oahu Interscholastic Association tournament last week. This time, the match was tied at 4-all after one period. By then, Auna had already suffered a possible concussion.
"She was gonna throw me when I came in for a shot," Auna said. "It was shocking, but I didn't want to show I was hurt."
Auna took command, however, and was ahead 8-5 midway through the third period when she attempted to pin Yamaguchi.
"I took more shots. Last time, she head-tied me all the time. I switched techniques. That's the first time I ever did that," Auna said.
Def. Cianah Hee (Kahuku) 12-3
The top seed, Ader, became a three-time state champion in three different weight classes by overpowering Hee -- quite a feat considering the Governor has injuries to both shoulders and missed much of the regular season.
"I try not to, but I tend to use what I got -- my muscles," Ader said. "(Hee) used to always wait for me to shoot. She gave me hard rubs."
Ader finished the season 10-0, including this second win over Hee. The senior closed out her career at 152-5.
Ader's right shoulder gave out after the preseason officials tournament, and when she came back, she injured her left shoulder.
Her previous championships came at 114 in '06 and 120 last season.
Def. Anela Santiago (Kahuku) 6-4
An amazing finish came the hard way for Mishima, a junior who finished second in the ILH. Perseverance paid off late in the match with Santiago. With the score tied at 4, Santiago was warned for stalling while executing a parallel ride. By rule, she needed to attempt to improve her position.
However, she didn't make the attempt, and was issued a stalling warning. That gave Mishima a point with 51 seconds left. Because Santiago allowed Mishima a chance to escape, Mishima was awarded another point for a 6-4 lead.
"I'm not sure what happened," Mishima said. "I just had to keep my lead."
Mishima had won her previous three state matches by decision, but two of those were by majority decision.
Def. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (Punahou) 3-0
Badayos, the OIA champion, ended the title hopes of the unseeded Buffanblu senior in a close battle. The match was 1-0 until the final 53 seconds, when Badayos tacked on two more points.
"I was going for the double, but I had to use a tilt," said Badayos, seeded second.
Badayos and Macfarlane had met in the preseason officials tournament.
"She wrestled really different today. She was moving more and stuck to basics. I had to readjust," Badayos said. "I left everything on the mat."
Badayos won her first two tourney matches by pin before getting past Kamehameha's Taisha-Ann Santiago in the semifinals, 3-0.
Def. Melody Aoki (St. Francis), pin
Soliai, the top seed, needed mere seconds to end the final in shocking fashion. She attacked Aoki immediately and had her pinned almost instantly.
"I always go for the takedown first. I go for the snapdown first. Then I'll go for the chancery -- get over the head, under the arm and turn her over," Soliai said.
It was a strong finish for the OIA champ against the No. 4 seed. "I was kind of nervous at the beginning. After I saw the way my girls wrestle, I had to get it done and do it for the team," she said.
Soliai was dominant, to say the least. She won her first two matches by pin, and blanked her semifinal foe, Kacie Davis of Kamehameha-Hawaii, 15-0.
Aoki also won her first two state matches by pin before winning 11-7 in the semifinals.
Def. Justina Luafalemana (Molokai), pin
The two old rivals from the Maui Interscholastic League went to a chess match of sorts early on.
"We wrestled a lot since my sophomore year and she's beaten me a couple of times," said Andrade, a 6-foot-3 senior. "I couldn't break down her base, so I tried my best to keep her down."
By the start of the second period, top-seeded Andrade used an arm bar -- basically, a head lock -- to pin the junior.
"I've used a half-nelson on her before," she said. "Justina's awesome."
Andrade finished the season unbeaten, but has no plans to wrestle in college.
"I'm done wrestling. I'm joining the Marines," she said.
Def. Brayanne Moe (Radford), pin
Top-seeded Fatongia was once the unheralded young grappler battling the older ace. Yesterday, the Iolani junior became the state champion for the first time.
She pinned Moe, who is only a freshman, with 1:48 left in the second period. "I saw a MySpace video of her tearing up a girl. She pinned that girl. I knew she likes the head and arms," Fatongia said. "She's really good on the bottom.
"My plan was to use the half and the ankle," she added.
Fatongia spent her first two seasons battling Kamehameha's longtime state champ, Hoku Nohara, before Nohara graduated.
"I paid my dues. I'm glad I worked hard. Always thank the Lord first, and thank my family," Fatongia said.