Lahainaluna wrestling teams conclude outstanding season
LAHAINA – Although the Lahainaluna High School girls wrestling team’s quest for a second consecutive state championship fell short – the Lady Lunas finished with the silver medal at the 2016 Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu two weeks ago – optimism and pride continue to reign within the program.
The Lahainaluna team had charged into the meet after capturing their seventh straight Maui Interscholastic League championship a week earlier, and with high hopes to repeat as the only Neighbor Island school to win a state title.
The Lady Lunas’ effort came up short, however, and a powerhouse Kamehameha Kapalama team piled up 216.5 points to win the title. Lahainaluna rang up an impressive 195.5 points in their sterling effort.
The Lady Lunas’ drive was highlighted by the gold medal high school career sweep by Lalelei Mataafa, who won her fourth state title in the 225-pound weight class, and junior Ivy Navarro, who took the gold at 107. Also piling up valuable points for the team were finalists that included senior Karina Arroyo Haro at 155, sophomore Ira Navarro (97), junior Alexis Encinas (112) and senior Kaile Kron (117).
Senior Hannah Pohai Miyamoto took fourth place at 184 pounds, and first-year wrestlers Taylor Pelegrino Hayase (fifth at 132), Daisha Kahoaliii Kalilikane (sixth at 127) and Kauanoe Keahi (sixth at 138) all achieved strong performances.
With ninth grade state qualifier Sami Saribay, junior Ashley Taguiam and their classmates returning to the mats next season for the Lady Lunas, the prospects are promising for a return to the Blaisdell in 2017.
“We had set the bar (with last year’s title), and so we’re not happy with how we did at states, but the season as a whole was outstanding for all of us,” said Luna head coach Todd Hayase.
On the Lahainaluna boys’ side of the mat, senior Justin Inovejas put the final touches on his high school career with a fifth place finish at 138 pounds, sophomore Kainalu Estrella battled his way to the finals in the 120-pound weight class, and freshman Kawehi Gilcoat finished sixth at 113. Senior Augustus Ehsa and junior Izaak Panlasigui Domingo also qualified and competed at the state meet.
“We knew coming in that it would be tough, and that Kamehameha was a tough team, but we brought home some hardware and hopefully this experience will carry over to next year,” said Coach Todd who was assisted by Conrad Bolor, Zane Monteleone, Shane Cunanan, Neal Nakata, Kim Ball, Sheldon Tateyama, Donovan Seno and Junior Boy Bolor.
“We are a really young team, so I think we will be competitive for the title next season. We are very optimistic and very much looking forward to next year. And, of course, we send a big mahalo out to the Royal Lahaina Resort, Starbucks Cannery Mall, Kimo’s Restaurant and to all of some 30 to 40 sponsors of the Maui Invitational Tournament that contribute so much to our success.”