Vincents provide boost to Kamehameha squad
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
For the three Vincent brothers of Hau'ula, "family time" often means diving at your sibling's legs, taking him down, putting his body into a lock and then pinning him to the ground.
But if you see this muscular trio rough-housing at "Kekela's" beach in Hau'ula, do not be alarmed. They are just having fun, enjoying the sport they have come to love and excel in.
"Wrestling is our life, that's our family outings," said Judd, the middle brother. "When we're not wrestling or coaching, we're either scouting or watching matches on video at home."
The beneficiary of this dedication to wrestling is the Kamehameha Schools, where each of the three brothers has won an individual state championship. Carden, a 2001 graduate, won the 189-pound title during his senior year; Judd won the 171-pound championship as a senior in 2003 and Gerritt took the 171-pound crown last year as a junior.
They are believed to be the only three brothers to each win an individual state title in the 40-year history of the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association tournament.
"I always joke with (father) Les and his wife, asking them if they can kick out a couple more sons for us," said Kamehameha coach Chris West, who has coached all three Vincents.
Gerritt will be the last brother to wear the Warriors singlet, but the family's influence is likely to remain at the Kapalama campus long after he graduates in May. Carden came back to help almost immediately after his graduation and is now the head coach for Kamehameha's intermediate team. Judd also came back to coach after his prep career and is an assistant for the varsity and JV teams.
Even Les has joined the program, serving as a volunteer strength coach this season.
"I think the sign of a successful program is when your former wrestlers come back to coach, so we're very lucky to have all of them with us," West said. "Wrestling was never a really big sport on campus, and there were times when we were in a drought."
But that has changed, and the Vincents have been a big part of it.
Gerritt, who is ranked No. 1 in the state at 189 pounds, was at the center of the resurgence last year when the Warriors captured their first state team championship since 1999 after trailing leader Lahainaluna by 10 points entering the championship, third-place and fifth-place finals.
Gerritt said the team's come-from-behind victory was even more special than the state football title he helped Kamehameha win three months before — the Warriors' first state-level football crown in 30 seasons.
"It was the way we won it," said Gerritt, noting that the football team was favored in its title game against Leilehua. "We were down by 12, 13 points at one point and everyone counted us out. When we won, it felt so good because everyone expected us to lose."
Vincent is not just a role player on the football team — he was named the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's Defensive Player of the Year as a linebacker this past season. But he said he plays football for fun and probably takes wrestling more seriously.
Ironically, it was football that started the chain of wrestling success for the Vincent brothers.
Carden never wrestled until the eighth grade, when he was almost cut from the intermediate football team.
"My coach said I should go out for wrestling, because he thought it would make me better in football," Carden said. "I heard stories about wrestling, but it was mostly horror stories. I got beat up my first year; I think I won only two matches."
Wrestling actually was in the Vincent brothers' blood. Les had wrestled for two years at Laupahoehoe High School, and uncles Anthony and William were accomplished wrestlers at Kamehameha in the late 1960s and early 70s.
"My dad told me, 'If you're going to go for it, go all out,' " Carden said.
By his junior year, Carden took third in the ILH and then won the state title as a senior. Judd also started slowly before taking third in the state tournament as a junior and winning as a senior. Gerritt took third at states as a sophomore before winning last year.
Besides the medals, all three brothers also share a strong work ethic in and out of the wrestling room, West said.
Carden was a National Merit semifinalist, and Judd and Gerritt also sported high grades.
"You could see that they were brought up well," West said. "Their dedication has poured over into our team."
Les said it's a labor of love.
"When I'm spending time with my boys on the mat," he said, "I'm the happiest guy you can find."
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org.