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Lahainaluna wrestling teams excel at exciting state tourney

By Staff | Feb 24, 2011

The Lady Luna “Magnificent Seven” — from left, Precious Jaramillo, Kiana Yamat, Makana Hussey, Veronica Coston, Jina Miyamoto, Kazia Lecker and Gina Bella Mata‘afa — stand proudly with their trophy after the state wrestling championships at the Neil Blaisdell Center in Honolulu on Feb. 12.

LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School boarding student Veronica Coston is one of the sweetest girls you’d ever want to meet. This explains the heart-wrenching emotion that engulfed the Luna team when she was upset at the Maui Interscholastic League Championships three weeks ago.

In finishing third at that meet, Coston, a senior, would have been denied a slot to the state championships a week later due to the reduction of MIL allowances to two competitors per weight class.

But, as Lahainaluna coach Todd Hayase would say later, “The stars lined up for us. I was the MIL representative at the state seeding conference, and a spot opened up in Veronica’s weight class and the selection rotation came to the MIL. We were thus able to get her in there. Fantastic turn of events — for the team and for Veronica.”

Coston took advantage of the opportunity and wrestled her way to a fifth place finish in the 132-pound weight class to help the Lady Lunas — who had captured their second consecutive MIL title the week before — to the silver medal in the 2011 Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Championships.

She was part of the Lahainaluna “Magnificent Seven” girls team that racked up 117.5 points to finish second to Punahou, but the top public school placement for the state.

Chanse Uyeda holds the bracket he defeated to win the state championship at 147 pounds.

The Lady Lunas sent seven student athletes to the championships, and all seven won medals. Senior team captains Gina Bella Mata’afa won the silver medal in the 222-pound weight class and Kazia Lecker (110) won a bronze to lead the Lahainaluna charge.

Makana Hussey (142 pounds) and Jina Miyamoto (127) brought home third place medals, while Kiana Yamat (122) added a fourth place effort and Precious Jaramillo (116) placed fifth.

“The girls really bonded at the MIL Championships,” explained Coach Todd. “That meet really brought them together as one. And, as a team, they went into the state competition feeling really good. And they really came through over there.”

Although the Luna boys finished in third place in the team race for states, they were, like the girls, the top finisher of the public schools.

Still, they were relentlessly ribbed by the girls after the meet, with particular jabs thrown at state champ Chanse Uyeda (147 pounds), second place winners Christian Carbajal (110) and James Heron (191), and bronze medal victor Teanu Rickard (217).

Also racking up points in the Lunas’ column were Kelvin Cruz (127) and Nalu Scott (154) in fourth place, and Puali Solomon-Camanse (137) and Bodean Bates (287) in fifth place.

Hayase and assistant coach Kim Ball agreed that this was perhaps the most exciting state meet ever for Lahainaluna.

“To send seven girls and bring home seven medals, and to finish as the top public school in both divisions, that is amazing,” added Coach Todd.

“I really want to express my gratitude to our coaching staff, and to the entire West Side wrestling ‘ohana, for their support. They have all been absolutely amazing, and we truly appreciate all the support they have given us.”