Saturday, February 27, 1999

H A W A I I _ W R E S T L I N G

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
At Blaisdell Arena, Punahou's Mark Egesdal has
Hana's Rusty Estrella wrapped up during the state
wrestling tournament. Estrella went on to win
and advance to the quarterfinals.

Pain and joy
at state wrestling

By Cindy Luis


The high school state wrestling tournament wore many faces yesterday, running the gamut of emotions as well. There was pain, anguish and frustration mixed with jubilation and relief for some 10 hours on the six mats at Blaisdell Arena.

There were blink-of-the-eye wins, such as that by Jodi Ebesu of Roosevelt. She won yesterday's opening match of the meet in nine seconds with a pin of Christina Nguyen in the 121-pound weight class.

There were some anxious moments for some returning champions, such as Radford's Sean Collins, unbeaten in two seasons. Collins, the 125-pound winner last year, pulled away in his tough 135-pound quarterfinal with McKinley's Dan Somatphibane, 10-6, to run his record to 70-0.

And then there was the utter joy of Jarret Merrill in the 275-pound quarterfinal match. The junior from the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind couldn't hear the cheers as he rallied in the final moments of the final period to pin Hawaii Prep's Brendan Corolan.

Neither could Merrill's coach, Joel Matusof, who is also deaf. But coach and wrestler shared a loud and long embrace afterward.

"Jarret was fourth last year and his goal is to win to this time," Matusof said through an interpreter. "He is so proud to represent his school. He said having a coach who is also deaf has helped him. There's been better communication this year."

Merrill advanced to today's semifinals of the 33rd Data House/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Tournament. Competition began at 11 a.m. with 10 girls' titles to be decided starting at 5 p.m.; the finals for the 14 boys' titles start at 7 p.m.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Iolani's Clayton Schroers, top, is tied up with
Hawaii Preparatory Academy's Michael Mons.
Schroers won to advance to the quarterfinals.

Matusof is in his first year at the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind. Carl Schroers, the tournament director, is in his 21st year at Iolani and seeking his 11th team title.

"I have so much empathy for the parents," said Schroers, whose son, Clayton, won his 215-pound quarterfinal last night. "The thing about the sport is you watch your child's face as they go through everything, the pain, the struggles. And you have no control over it.

"It's not like a team sport where you have other players out there to help you win. It's you alone out there, win or lose."

Among the team leaders going into today's semifinals were two-time defending state champ Kamehameha; OIA powerhouse McKinley; 10-time state winner Iolani and St. Louis, looking for its first title since back-to-back championships in 1972-73.

In the girls' competition, McKinley was poised to win its second title.

Some schools came into the meet with no hope of winning a team championship. Tiny Hana from Maui brought its entire team: five boys and one girl.

"We just tell them to come here, hang in there and do their best," said assistant coach Les Kaiwi, who competed for the Dragons in the mid-1970s. "Our kids are competitive technically but they maybe lack the mentality that goes with winning a title. But we've got nothing to lose and that's how we look at coming here."

Several OIA champions dropped into the consolation round, including third-seeded Mike Leon-Guerrero of Aiea in the 145-pound class. Also at 145, top-seed Kamaka Jingao of Kamehameha survived his quarterfinal match with Castle's Sean Sakata, 6-5.

"He's a tough competitor," said Jingao. "I really respect him. I was concerned until the end."

The 171-pound class was considered the toughest of the state tournament with returning champion Gerald Welch of St. Louis the top seed and OIA champ Rylan Lizares of Aiea, last year's state runner-up at 152. In an upset yesterday, third-seeded Zane Monteleone of Lahainaluna lost in the last 30 seconds to ILH runner-up Richard Robles of Kamehameha, 9-7.

In a mild upset at 215, unseeded ILH runner-up Clayton Schroers of Iolani dominated fourth-seeded Michael Mons of Hawaii Prep, 8-0. Schroers advanced to today's semifinal against top-seeded Ammon Tong of Kaiser.

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