Low a master on mat once again
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Success had always been a given for Brandon Low.
The UC Davis wrestler has a place among the all-time greats in Hawai'i prep wrestling lore after winning state titles in four different weight classes — the only person ever to accomplish that feat.
But, it was a different story once the 2006 Saint Louis School alum arrived at Davis' Northern California campus three years ago.
Low struggled to keep up with his Division I teammates and admitted to being "shell shocked" by the jump from high school to college.
"It was a big step, especially for someone coming from Hawai'i, where wrestling isn't given as much respect as states like California and Arizona," Low said. "When I got here, I was getting beat up and I wasn't used to that — I was used to winning. My first two years were kind of discouraging because I wasn't having the same success that I used to."
Low took it upon himself to raise his game.
"It didn't come to a point where I was thinking about quitting, but it was at a point where I wasn't confident enough in my ability and I started to think that maybe I should concentrate more on academics," said Low, who competes at 133 pounds. "But, I made a decision at the beginning of last year — the summer before that actually — that I was going to give it my all. Everyone had told me that I had a lot of talent, but I just had to put in more time, so I stuck with it and kept going. I'm a firm believer than hard work pays off."
After redshirting as a true freshman, Low managed a 5-6 record in 2008. As a sophomore, he went 16-10, placed fourth at the Pac-10 Championships and had the most success of any Aggie at the nationals.
"He went 2-2 at NCAAs last year and that's in a really tough weight class," UC Davis coach Lennie Zalesky said. "That was probably the best tournament of his life up to that point."
Low is hoping to parlay that success into a strong showing at this year's NCAA Championships, which will be held March 18 to 20 in Omaha, Neb.
"I think that experience will help a lot because that was my first time qualifying (for NCAAs) and I had never seen anything like this tournament," Low said. "It's so professional in how it's run and the best of the best are there. The fans are hardcore and you can see in the stands where Ohio State is sitting, where Iowa is sitting, where Iowa State is sitting and they just erupt when their guys win. I remember thinking, 'Man, this is big time, this is it, you know.' "
Low was the top seed at the Pac-10 Conference Championships two weeks ago, but lost by a point in the final to Cal Poly's Boris Novachkov — whom Low beat earlier in the year.
"It's always disappointing when you don't come out with the victory, but I think I wrestled hard and my coach told me the same thing," said Low, who lost 4-3 because Novachkov had accumulated more than two minutes of riding time. "It was just a small thing, but it came down to one point and the closer you get to the No. 1 guy, the more it becomes about the real little details and that's what I'm focusing on."
Zalesky, a three-time All-American and former assistant coach at perennial powerhouse Iowa, said he expects Low to fare well at the nationals.
"He's a hard guy to beat, he might end up getting a seed, maybe around 11 or 12 or so," said Zalesky, in his ninth year as head coach. "I think he's got a good shot, but he'll definitely have to beat some good kids. But I think his chances are as good as anyone."
With the NCAAs a little more than a week away, Low is determined to stay focused.
"I was just talking to a couple of my older teammates about how when I was younger, I would go to wrestling camps and I remember my dad would tell me that all sports — not just wrestling — was 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical and that never made sense to me," Low said.
"It took me until coming to college to realize the truth behind that. You can have all the talent in the world, but you have to have the mental toughness to push through fatigue and injuries and just not let those things break your strength. Above anything else I would say that my mental toughness has improved 10-fold and that's where my success has come from."
• Dana (Neb.) senior Ryan "Bulla" Tuzon (Baldwin '06 of Wailuku) placed fourth in the 165-pound division at the NAIA National Tournament Saturday in Oklahoma City. Tuzon won his first three matches and finished 4-2.
OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD
• Agnes Faaleaoga (Kailua '08 of Waimānalo) placed fifth in the women's shot put (33 feet, 6 3/4 inches) and discus (108-10) and ninth in the hammer throw (104-5) to help Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) place second at Saturday's San Diego Collegiate Championships. Teammate Bailey Massenburg (King Kekaulike '09 of Kula) was ninth in the 1,500-meter run (4:54.40) and ran on the seventh-place 4x400 relay team. Mark Miller (St. Anthony '07 of Kahului) helped the Point Loma men place second after finishing sixth in the discus (119-0), seventh in the hammer throw (103-5) and ninth in the javelin (149-1).
• Chelsea Machida (Maui '07 of Kahului) of Linfield (Ore.) was second in the high jump (5-2 1/4;) at Saturday's Linfield Icebreaker. Jenna Matsumoto (University High '08 of Kailua) was sixth in the 400 hurdles (1:09.62) for Pacific (Ore.). Teammate Nicole Smith (Kamehameha-Maui '07 of Wailuku) placed 11th in the long jump (13-7), 14th in the 100 (13.34) and 16th in the 200 (28.07). Pacific's Nicole Brown (St. Anthony '08 of Wailuku) was 12th in the long jump (12-10 3/4) and triple jump (29- 1/2). In the men's events, Portland's Pono Hanson (Kamehameha '07 of 'Aiea) was fifth in the 400 hurdles (59.37) and eighth in the 100 hurdles (16.74). He ran on the 4x100 relay team that placed sixth and 4x400 relay team that was 10th. Pacific's Ryan Terao (Punahou '08 of Kāne'ohe) was 10th in the pole vault (12-11 3/4) and Casey Nishimura (Mid-Pacific '06 of Hawai'i Kai) was ninth in the 1,500 (4:12.88).
• San Diego sophomore Alex Ching (Punahou '08 of Honolulu) finished in a tie for 19th with a 4-over 217 at the Fresno State Lexus Classic, which ended yesterday at the par-71, 6,802-yard San Joaquin Country Club. Oregon junior Sean Maekawa (Honoka'a '07 of Pa'auilo) tied for 38th with 9-over 222.
• Santa Clara junior Miki Ueoka (Kaua'i '07 of Līhu'e) and sophomore Tammy Surtees (Hawai'i Prep '08 of Waikoloa) tied for 36th at 15-over 231 in the Juli Inkster Spartan Invite, which wrapped up yesterday at the par-72, 6,223-yard Almaden Golf and Country Club in in San Jose, Calif. Colorado senior Christine Kim (Waiākea '06 of Pāhoa) tied for 38th at 18-over 234.
• Portland State freshman Britney Yada (Waiākea '09 of Hilo) is tied for eighth at even-par 144 heading into today's final round of the UNLV Spring Rebel Invitational at the par-72, 6,246-yard Boulder Creek Golf Course. Tulsa freshman Kristina Merkle (Moanalua '09) is tied for 17th at 3-over 147. Oregon State sophomore Elyse Okada (Maui '08 of Kahului) is tied for 47th at 8-over 152.
• UNLV sophomore forward Jaime Smith ('Iolani '08 of Kailua) had 18 rebounds, six points, four steals and two blocks in last night's 60-55 loss to Wyoming in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. She had 16 rebounds and six points in a 78-73 loss at Wyoming Saturday.
• Cal State Northridge freshman forward Violet Alama (Kalani '09 of Honolulu) had 15 points with 17 rebounds, junior forward Analee Viena-Lota (Kamehameha '07 of Honolulu) had 13 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals, and freshman guard Janelle Nomura (Punahou '09 of Honolulu) had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in a 93-89 double-overtime loss at Pacific (Calif.) Saturday. On Monday, Nomura was named to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team.
• Clackamas (Ore.) freshman guard Johnelle Kapua (Mid-Pacific '09 of Honolulu) had 11 points, two assists and a steal in a 75-64 loss to Yakima Valley Monday in a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Tournament semifinal game.
• Menlo (Calif.) junior guard Jamie-Leigh Ronolo (Moanalua '07 of Honolulu) was named to the All-California Pacific Conference basketball team after leading the Hawks with 12.9 points per game. Menlo plays Briar Cliff tomorrow in the first round of the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
• Northwestern sophomore designated hitter Paul Snieder (Punahou '08 of Honolulu) had two doubles with a run scored and a walk in a 3-0 win over Loyola Marymount Saturday at the Dairy Queen Classic, which was played at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. Snieder batted 2 for 4 with two runs scored in an 8-4 loss to Minnesota Sunday.
• Cal State Northridge junior left fielder Ridge Carpenter (Kalani '07 of Honolulu) batted 3 for 5 with a run scored in a 7-3 loss to Connecticut Friday.
• San Diego freshman outfielder Kalei Hanawahine (Kamehameha '09 of Honolulu) batted 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored in Monday's 8-2 win over Monmouth (N.J.).
• New Mexico State junior first baseman Hoku Nohara (Kamehameha '07 of Waimānalo) batted 2 for 3 with a homer and five RBIs in an 11-3 win over Southern Utah Friday in the UNLV-hosted Eller Media Stadium Tournament. Sophomore outfielder Shaleese Javilla (Kamehameha '09 of Kapa'a) drove in two runs for the Aggies.
• Whitter (Calif.) junior left fielder Kellie Canida (Kamehameha '07 of 'Aiea) hit two homers and drove in four runs in a 9-7 loss to Redlands Saturday.
SWIMMING & DIVING
• Lindenwood (Mo.) sophomore Sarah Billamosa (Pearl City '08) won the 400-yard individual medley at last weekend's NAIA National Championships in a time of 4:32.06. She also placed third in the 200 individual medley and fourth in the 200 butterfly. Billamosa was named Lindenwood's Female Athlete of the Week on Monday.
• Stanford sophomore outside hitter Brad Lawson ('Iolani '08 of Honolulu) was named National Player of the Week Monday after he helped the Cardinal to four-set victories over UC San Diego and Long Beach State last week. Lawson hit .453 while amassing 34 kills, 13 digs, five assists, three blocks and a pair of aces in the two matches. Stanford moved up a spot to No. 1 in this week's AVCA Div. I-II Top 15 poll — the first time it has topped the poll since Feb. 6, 2001.
• Pacific (Ore.) sophomore Cat Goya (St. Andrew's '09 of Kāne'ohe) won 6-0 and 6-2 at No. 1 singles of Friday's 8-1 win over George Fox (Ore.). Sophomore Megan Yoshimoto (Mililani '09) won at No. 2 singles, 7-6 (7-2) and 6-0; senior Dayna Wong (Waiākea '06 of Hilo) won at No. 3 singles, 6-3 and 6-3, and freshman Rachel Mizuno (Mililani '09) won at No. 4 singles, 6-3 and 6-2. Goya and Yoshimoto teamed to win 8-3 at No. 1 doubles and Wong and Mizuno won 8-3 at No. 2 doubles.
• Arizona State sophomore Kahoku Palafox (Maryknoll '08 of Kailua) scored 9.85 on the uneven bars and balance beam in a win over Central Michigan Friday.
WOMEN'S WATER POLO
• UC San Diego junior attacker Hanalei Crowell (Kamehameha '07 of Kailua) scored two goals in a 10-5 win over Santa Clara Friday.
• Pacific (Ore.) senior defender Christine Nishida (Kailua '06) scored two goals in Saturday's season-opening 15-10 win over Puget Sound.
Advertiser Staff Writer Stanley Lee contributed to this report.