Depth was key for 2 Punahou titles


POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2009

Mild upsets ruled the first day on the boys side of the Chevron/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships.

By the second and final day, it was the girls brackets that were overrun by surprises.

One of the rock-steady forces, though, took care of business early on. Jason Spiker of Kaiser capped a 37-0 season with his first crown in the 108-pound weight class, closing out his career with four pins at the state tourney.

Spiker and teammate Michael Nakagawa led the Cougars' run by winning their divisions. It wasn't enough, though, for the Oahu Interscholastic Association champions to dethrone Punahou.

The Buffanblu captured a third state title in a row, led by individual champions Reid Oshiro (125), Maika Nagata (130), Patrick Sheehan (171), George Kolu Buck (189) and Jonathan Sani Fuimaono (285). They were bolstered by a strong showing in other weight classes. Bryant Fukushima (108), Jordan Ng (114) and Andrew Hirai (119) earned silver medals as Punahou won the team competition by a wide margin.

Coach Matt Oney and assistant Jimmy Takatsuka have been with the program for 18 years. Punahou had a state-title drought of 28 years before surging to the Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys championship in 2006. The girls broke through this season.

One key reason for Punahou's rise: the Punahou Pumas wrestling program. The Buffanblu draw wrestlers at the elementary and intermediate levels on campus. One of those promising youngsters was Sheehan, who is just a sophomore.

“;It's all because of Coach,”; he said, hugging Pumas coach Mike Lee moments after winning the 171-pound title.

Punahou's depth was also a factor in the girls standings. The Buffanblu had just two individual champions—Jenny “;J.T.”; Ojerio (140) and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (155)—and still won by a double-digit margin over Kahuku.

For individual results, see Scoreboard.