Luna wrestling team is young but has championship tendencies
LAHAINA – The thin air at the top of Maui Interscholastic League wrestling had been the exclusive throne of the Lahainaluna High School boys and girls for most of the last decade. The Luna boys had pinned down ten straight championships going into last season, while the Lady Lunas had won six consecutive titles.
After the final match of the 2016 MIL championships, the Lahainaluna girls had captured their seventh straight title, but the boys were dethroned by an upstart Baldwin team and their steak of top finishes was done. The effort continued into the state championships as the Lady Lunas fought their way to a second place finish, while the boys completed their season with a respectable 14th place final.
Preseason indicators follow the same script as the Lahainaluna wrestlers prepare for the 2016-17 MIL season that begins on Dec. 28 at Kamehameha Schools Maui. Prior to this round robin meet, the Lunas will have wrestled in three of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s top competitions: the Garner Ivey Invitational (formerly the MIT), the HHSSA Officials Tournament, the Paani Challenge for the girls, and the Moanalua Duals.
According to veteran Lahainaluna head coach Todd Hayase, the 2017 Luna team is young but has thus far shown championship tendencies.
“We’re a very young team and we are inexperienced, but if we can continue to put in the effort to keep learning and moving forward, we will compete for the MIL title and beyond. We’re happy to have had an influx of football players taking part, and we’re excited to have more athletes on the team.”
Coach Todd, who will be assisted by a stalwart staff made up of Conrad Bolor, Zane Monteleone, Shane Cunanan, Kim Ball, Sheldon Tateyama, Donovan Seno, Junior Boy Bolor and Neal Nakata, added that the leadership core will be a crucial factor in the development of the team.
The 2016 Lunas will be led by a foursome of captains that includes seniors Alexis Encinas and Iverly Navarro, and juniors Ira Navarro and Kainalu Estrella, who are all returning MIL champions and state titlists. Sophomore Sami Saribay and senior Ashley Taguiam are also among the top athletes.
Coach Hayase also stated that the coaching staff is excited about first-year wrestlers Nanea Estrealla, Shannon Jaramilo, Kaleikaumaka Johnson and Malia Kaufononga; sophomores Taylor Pelegrino Hayase and Kauanoe Keahi; and senior Ailani Lanoza. On the boys’ side of the mat, freshman Jesse “Fatty” Dudoit and sophomores Bootsie Criste, Zeff Dudoit and Ty Bates have been impressive thus far, along with junior Ikua Tihada.
“The MIL’s will be fun to watch – especially for the girls – as the Baldwin boys have the edge (over Lahainaluna) with a full roster and depth in all weight classes,” said Hayase. “We just want to be competitive. We’re loving it at this point – just being around these young wrestlers is really fun.”
“As always, we are extremely grateful to the Lahaina community for all of their support. Round Table Pizza, Maui Charity Walk, Royal Lahaina Resort, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Kimo’s Restaurant and all the families have meant so much to the team in helping us maintain our budget. Our sincere thank you to all,” concluded Coach Todd.