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Lunas look to battle for state wrestling championships

By Staff | Jan 29, 2015

The team gathers after practice at the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium Wrestling Room, with state placers on the honor board in the background. PHOTO BY WALTER CHIHARA.

LAHAINA – The winter sports avalanche at Lahainaluna High School continues, as the Luna girls and boys wrestling teams match the charge of the basketball squads. All four programs are rolling on toward Maui Interscholastic League and state titles.

Fueled by top flight coaching, burgeoning youth programs and the Red Tide support of the West Side community, Lahainaluna wrestling is shooting for a tenth straight boys MIL championship and a sixth consecutive girls title, as well as that elusive state championship that they have been so close to winning in recent years.

Both teams took home runner-up trophies last year, and the Oahu Interscholastic Association and Interscholastic League of Honolulu wrestling powerhouses – Moanalua, Punahou and Kamehameha Kapalama – are always aware of the Lunas in red when the state tournament rolls around.

Todd Hayase once again leads a veteran coaching staff that includes Conrad Bolor, Neal Nakata, Kim Ball, Zane Monteleone, Shane Cunanan, Sheldon Tateyama, Jansen Panlasigui Domingo and Holden Mowat.

“This staff has been working almost year-round to raise the competitive level of all of our wrestlers,” said Coach Todd last week from his counselor’s office at Lahaina Intermediate School.

“We tried to set them up with quality matches with all of them in four tournaments in December and another in January in Temecula, California. We want to give our kids the mentality that they can compete with anyone in the country, and this is the type of matches that they got in California, and also at the MIT, Paani, Officials, and Moanalua Duals tournaments. Our goal, as always, is to win the MIL and win the state championships.”

This year, the Lunas have the guns to get it done.

The Lunas return MIL champs in Alexis Encinas, Diamond Freitas, Carly Jaramillo, Breanna Dudoit Vasquez and Lalelei Mataafa on the girls’ mat, and Issak Panlasigui Domingo, Christian Balagso, Justin Inovejas, Robert Campos, Thomas Rosen St. John, Wayne Alibin and Connor Mowat for the boys.

At the state tournament last year, Navarro took third, Encinas was fifth, Freitas finished fifth, Dudoit Vasquea won the gold, Jaramillo also took home gold, Arroyo was fifth and Mataafa won her second consecutive gold medal.

On the boys’ side, Balagso won a silver medal, Campos a gold, Rosen St. John a gold medal, Alibin another gold, Bolor took third, and Mowat stood atop the podium as the heavyweight champion.

The Lahainaluna wrestling agenda recognizes all of these student athletes and points to the boys’ top three state finishes over the last eight years as a team – including three runner-up finals – and the girls’ top four trophies over the last four years, including two silver medal places.

The goal is to move forward, work to improve and to build an unbreakable attitude that will send the 14 best wrestlers in both divisions to the state tournament.

“We seem to be focused, and this is a tight-knit group with quality wrestlers in most of the weight classes. They are committed to attaining our goals and tired of second place,” said Coach Todd.

“We send a big mahalo to Nate Williams with the intermediate school wrestling program, and to Kim Ball, Conrad Bolor and Terry Shibao with the youth clubs. Also, thank you to Lulu’s Surf Bar and Grill, Kimo’s Restaurant, Starbucks at the Cannery Mall, Sale Pepe Pizzeria, and to the Royal Lahaina Resort, as well as to A.D. Scott Soldwisch, and Athletic Trainers Jon Conrad and Helen Hetzel.”