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Lahainaluna wrestlers make history

By Staff | Mar 19, 2015

The Lahainaluna High School wrestling program has been climbing up the path of success for 20 years and reached the summit two weeks ago with a historic sweep of the girls and boys state wrestling championships in Honolulu.

The title-winning effort brought home the first Neighbor Island recognition and, moreover, manifests the deep and rich community tradition that is being fostered here on the West Side.

To win state wrestling championships, teams must develop numbers, and the quality must include quantity. And, in an athletic endeavor as grueling as wrestling, these young student athletes must have strength of character above and beyond their teenage years.

To compete and to succeed at these highest levels requires a spirit of self-sacrifice and determination that builds the heart of a champion.

Imagine subsisting on a few sprigs of broccoli and a couple of ice cubes, running up and down Lahainaluna Road in black sweat pants and hoodie in 90-degree heat, going to classes, then to the humidity of the spartan Luna wrestling room and hundreds of push-ups and crunches interspersed with technique training and-one minute “go” sessions with teammates and alumni, then home to more broccoli, homework and mercifully, some sleep.

Then, it’s up at 6 a.m. to go back, jack it up and do it again.

For this small, rural community of Lahaina, the talent pools are not deep, but as we have seen with the championship run of Luna wrestling – including ten consecutive MIL titles for the boys and six for the girls, to go with seven top three efforts for the boys and five top four finishes for the girls at the state championships – the collective heart is a bountiful ocean of strength and commitment.

Over the last 25 years, the traditions have been forged by coach/mentors such as Kim Ball, Neal Nakata, Conrad Bolor, Shane Cunanan and many more to be passionate about building strength of character to succeed not only on the wrestling mat, but out on the back alleys and tough roads of life.

There is a tradition with Luna wrestling that the team holds a season finale gathering at Kahului Airport upon their return from their annual crusade to the state meet. “It is a very emotional meeting – there are no dry eyes. We thank one another; we inspire each other to reach within ourselves to commit to the team goals, to the effort to be passionate about teaching the kids about life, to give back,” explained Coach Hayase.

“We want wrestling to be a vehicle to build the strength of character starting with the youth programs. That’s where our success at the high school level comes from. It’s planting and building the roots with the younger kids that brings the success later on. I am ever grateful to these coaches, the families, and the whole community for building this most vital human spirit.”

Pay it forward. Imua Lahaina! (By Walter Chihara)