Lafortune takes fourth title; Moanalua, Punahou champs
• Photo gallery: State judo championships
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
The goals were to win it for himself and his team. But history painted a tough picture for Moanalua's Brady Lafortune.
Only three other judoka have won four straight state judo titles and Moanalua, which has a young team this year, has never won a state title.
"Definitely a hard accomplishment and one of the most difficult feats of high school judo," Moanalua coach Brandon Maki said. "You got a lot of junior national players out there who played in nationals and you're going to have to eventually meet one or two of them. It's a very difficult task. You got to keep that mental focus year in and year out."
It took Lafortune two minutes and five seconds to reach his first goal of winning four state titles, and Nā Menehune placed five judoka in the finals to win their first state team title at yesterday's HHSAA Championships at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"An accomplishment," Lafortune said of the Moanalua five that reached the finals.
Lafortune, who has been tending to an ankle injury in recent weeks, won his 132-pound match over Kapolei's Tyler Kono by Ippon. Lafortune got Kono on the mat in the left corner in 2:05, immediately raised in his hands to celebrate, and pointed four fingers toward the Moanalua section that sat in front of him.
"It was kind of tiring, but overall it was all right," said Lafortune, who won at 108 as a freshman, 114 as a sophomore and 121 last year. "He was very strong and technical."
Moanalua's Kelson Oniguma (108), Jacob Palimo'o (114), Robby Ostovich (178) and Alex Kozuma (275) all finished second in their matches.
"We knew we had the potential," Maki said. "We had a young team, but we felt we had a shot."
Moanalua won with 69 points, followed by Kamehameha with 56 and Kahuku with 51.
The other four-time state champions are Farrington's Taylor Ibera, Pearl City's Christian Pavo and McKinley's Lianne Tomishima.
Mid-Pacific junior David Terao could join that elite group next year. Terao beat Farrington's Logan Bucsit by Ippon at 121 for his third state title — all of them wins over Bucsit.
"He's a tough guy, we've been playing each other in wrestling and judo," Terao said. "We know each other's styles and we're actually pretty good friends. I wish he could be in a different weight class than me."
After three years without a state title, it took eight seconds for McKinley's Damon Hom Jr. to win his 161 final by Ippon.
"It's unreal," said Hom, who won all of his matches yesterday by Ippon. "After trying three years at it, I finally got number one."
Sophomore Myer Alokoa of the Hawai'i School for the Deaf & Blind won his first state title after finishing third last year. Alokoa, who competed for Kalani during the regular season, won his 198 final by Ippon.
Judo has taught him "not to be all big-headed about stuff because you have to respect people and be positive and care about people," he said through translator Scott O'Neal. "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, the point is to respect each other."
PUNAHOU GIRLS WIN
Punahou ran away with its second straight girls team title with four first-place finishes. Erin Uehara won at 98, Chrissy Chow won at 129, Mindy Chow won at 139 and Kaimana Lundquist won at 154 as the Buffanblu finished with 85 points.
"It's a combination of the coaches and the talent of the players and everyone willing to work hard and wanting to win," said Chrissy, who won at 129 for her third state title.
She has a shot next year to make it four straight titles, as does McKinley's Brittany Balanay, who won her third title at 109. Teammate Marissa Rogers won her 103 final by Ippon in seven seconds.
Mei Ling Keiki won at 172 and Sanoe Spencer won at 220 to help Pearl City finish second with 54 points.