Powerhouse Luna wrestling teams focused on state meet
LAHAINA — The Lahainaluna High School athletic gold rush into the new millennium has been stunning, as Luna teams throughout the school years have been racking up Maui Interscholastic League titles in rapid fire succession.
The Lunas last year added seven MIL championships to the banners draped from the rafters at the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on campus that honor the various team sports title winners from the past.
The 2009-10 school year was highlighted by those seven MIL championships and included a state title for the Lady Luna basketball team. That year also featured a fifth straight MIL championship in boys wrestling and a milestone first title for the girls.
At states, the boys took home the bronze trophy for third place, while the girls finished in ninth place. The Luna boys have finished no lower than fourth place over the last eight years and came within two points of the state championship in 2006.
Along with football, there is perhaps no other high school sport that represents the Lahainaluna spirit of passion, determination and toil like wrestling. Year after year, the Luna red tide rolls across the mat of MIL competition and then rises to the top at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament in Honolulu.
The true grit of the Lahainaluna wrestling regimen stands tall to manifest the steel-forged competitive spirit that only West Siders can comprehend.
Lahainaluna wrestling for 2011 is no exception. Head coach Todd Hayase counts 63 student athletes on this year’s roster going into last weekend’s MIL Championships, as the boys were on track to rack up a sixth consecutive title and the girls were favored to win their second.
“We’re winning like ten or 11 of the fourteen boys’ weight classes and five of the girls’ divisions,” said Coach Todd from his counselor’s office at Lahaina Intermediate School. “Going into the MIL meet, we are hoping to send two wrestlers into each boys’ weight class for a total of 28 and nine to compete in the seven girls’ weight classes.
“For states, budget cuts and schools not having a wrestling team has forced local officials to trim the MIL allowance to two wrestlers per weight class as opposed to four three years ago,” he continued.
“Now, with just two spots, you have to be a finalist to qualify for states. It’s tough, but we just try to work harder and put more into the regular season. It’s difficult, but we just work harder on conditioning and technique.“
Coach Todd works at this with a veteran coaching staff that includes Conrad Bolor, Kim Ball, Neal Nakata, Zane Monteleone, Nick Nakata, Lindsay Ball, Nathan Williams, Jaret Nahooikaika, Shane Cunanan and alumni assistants Holden Mowat, Travis Okano, Edison Hidalgo and Ashley Hayase. Team managers are Cherise Milano and Breea Yamat.
Team captains for the 2011 Lady Lunas are seniors Kazia Lecker and Gina Bella Mataafa, with classmates Makana Hussey and Veronica Costen adding to the leadership core.
For the boys, captains Teanu Rickard and Kelvin Cruz, both seniors, and junior Christian Carbajal led the way.
Also providing leadership were seniors David Arcangel, Jojo Hidalgo, James Heron, Nalu Scott and Mark Pillejera, as well as junior Chanse Uyeda.
“This program just continues to grow in a positive direction, and that is a result of the ongoing support of businesses like the Royal Lahaina Hotel and the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, as well as organizations like the Lahainaluna High School Foundation, Lahaina Hongwanji and the West Maui Veterans Club. It is the entire West Side wrestling ‘ohana, with people like Bob Kawaguchi and ‘Noosh’ Nishihara leading the way. We hope not to skip a beat going into next year,” Coach Todd concluded.