Punahou boys, Kahuku girls lead
• Photo gallery: State wrestling Day 1
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Even in the midst of a championship race, the Kamehameha wrestling team has found a way to get its rest.
The Warriors sit in second place in the boys' team standings after the first day of the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association/Chevron Wrestling State Championships at the Neal Blaisdell Arena.
Punahou leads with 104 points. Kamehameha has 88 1/2 points, while Lahainaluna is third with 73, Campbell fourth with 47 1/2 and Moanalua fifth with 41 1/2.
Kamehameha coach Chris West was pleased with his team's performance on Day One. He pointed out the performances of heavyweights Zachary Batara (189 pounds), Dane Pestano (215) and Hayden Wills (285) — three of Kamehameha's eight semifinalists.
"Those kids really pulled through, they showed up to wrestle today," West said. "What we told them before the tournament was 'We did our jobs already. We've coached you guys, we've prepared you guys and now it's up to you to show up' and they answered the call."
West was especially pleased by Pestano, who pulled out a 6-3 win over Lahainaluna's Teanu Rickard in a quarterfinal match.
"That was huge and he's only a freshman and he's showing maturity as the matches go by," West said. "For him to be at the maturity level he is, it's incredible. You don't see many freshmen do well at 215, usually you see it in the lighter weights, but this kid ... it's like he doesn't know how old he is."
Wills claimed his semifinal spot in thrilling action. With the score tied at five late in the third period, he threw Rickard to the mat and quickly got behind him to secure a takedown with just three seconds left in the match to win, 7-5.
Warriors' senior captain Kameona Hokoana gave some insight on his team's philosophy.
"We always say 'just wrestle.' We don't worry about the team score or anything like that," said Hokoana, who will meet Campbell's Kevin Corbett in a 160-pound semifinal.
Hokoana said the Warriors are benefitting from short naps between their matches.
"One of our coaches rented out a room in the (exhibition hall) next door and in between rounds, we go in the room and take a nap," Hokoana said. "I never heard of that, this was the first year that we did it, but it's a big help to get away from all the hustle and bustle and all the noise. It's really good, it's a nice room with a lot of open space, instead of trying to sleep in the chairs or on the floor in the arena."
Hokoana and the Warriors will need their rest. Three-time defending state champion Punahou has wrestlers in the semifinals of nine of the 14 weight classes.
Kahuku leads the girls' team standings with 76 points. Punahou has 59 points to hold second, Pearl City is third with 58 1/2, Kamehameha is fourth with 56 and 'Aiea is fifth with 50 points.
The Red Raiders and Buffanblu both have six girls wrestling in the semifinal round.
They went head-to-head in the 108-pound division in a quarterfinal bout yesterday. Punahou's Nicole Taniguchi sent Kahuku's Kayla Martin, the OIA champion and No. 3 seed, to the backside of the bracket.
Taniguchi got a first-period takedown to take a 2-0 lead. She extended her lead to 4-0 in the third after a reversal and 6-0 after picking up two near-fall points. Martin got a late escape point to make the final score 6-1.
"I knew that she was a strong wrestler, so I just wanted to go out there and put my best foot forward, keep on the attack and keep moving," said Taniguchi, the ILH runner-up.
Taniguchi will face 'Iolani's Lacee Toyama in the semifinals, which begin at 10 a.m. today.
The championship and consolation finals begin around 3 p.m.