Lahainaluna High School wrestling team blessed with depth
LAHAINA — It is an awesome sight to behold as the participating schools in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Championships take to the floor of the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu to begin their warm-up routines.
There are many small groups of four or five athletes — all wearing their representative school colors — dotting the arena floor. Then the big boys and girls hit the mats.
From one side of the arena enters the defending state champions, the Buff ‘n Blue of Punahou School — some 20-30 state qualifiers from the Honolulu campus.
From the opposite entrance pours the red tide of Lahainaluna High School, the upstart Neighbor Island rural representative in equal numbers.
Lahainaluna is the four-time Maui Interscholastic League defending champ, to go along with four straight top five finishes at the state meet — all behind Punahou.
So it is no surprise to find the Lunas, once again led by head coach Todd Hayase, taking dead aim with that state title in the cross hairs and straight through Punahou.
“We are blessed with the positive problem of having a huge roster with 71 wrestlers on the team this year,” said Coach Todd last week from his counselor’s office on the Lahaina Intermediate School campus.
“The only problem with so many kids on the team is that we don’t have the facilities to accommodate this many wrestlers for practice — we have to be really creative in what we do with the time we have. But mostly, it’s a good problem to have.”
Hayase noted that of the 14 boys and 11 girls’ weight classes, Lahainaluna will be well-represented — read as deep — in all MIL divisions.
“We have three MIL girls champions returning this year along with a transfer champ from Kamehameha Maui, so we’re looking to do well in the girls competition. The boys have five MIL champs coming back for another shot. We’ll be well-represented in all weight classes, some deeper than others. We still have some questions, but we’re getting close,” he said.
The Lunas opened up the 2010 regular season with a two-day, round robin tournament at Hana last weekend. That meet will be followed each weekend with one-day round robin or dual meet competitions leading up to the MIL Championships to be held at the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on the Lahainaluna campus on Feb. 20. Then comes the HHSAA State Tournament at the Blaisdell on Feb. 26-27.
Joining Coach Todd on the coaching staff this season are longtime associates Kim Ball, Conrad Bolor, Nick Nakata, Zane Monteleone, Neil Nakata, Lindsay Ball and Travis Okano.
“This is as dedicated a coaching staff as you’ll find anywhere,” affirmed Hayase. “These coaches, along with the alumni and families, are a very supportive and tight-knit group. They all contribute to the overall success that the high school program achieves.”
“It’s really amazing to see how they all step up to help year after year. And not only with the high school team, but with the Napili Surfriders and the Lahaina Roughnecks, we have one of the top youth programs in the state. The majority of the kids on the high school team have come up through the Roughnecks and Surfriders programs led by Conrad (Bolor) and Kim (Ball) and Doug Wyckoff. So, most of them have some experience that helps build our program at the high school level,” Hayase concluded.