Central takes wrestling’s opening night

PUHI — Wrestling fans were chomping at the bit as the Kaua‘i Police Activities League opened its 2007 wrestling season with its first tournament Wednesday night.

“We didn’t have one last week, so this is the first one,” said one of the league officials. “We’re scheduled to have matches each Wednesday through April, and we’re trying to get one match out in Kapa‘a as well.”

Twenty-two matches were on tap for opening night at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School open gym area.

Starting at 6 p.m., the matches flowed smoothly as 12 of the matches were settled by pins.

“A pin is the equivalent of a knockout in boxing,” said Kapa‘a wrestling coach Larry Richardson who has been coaching the Kapa‘a wrestlers since the start-up of the K-PAL program there.

Richardson said in addition to the pin, scoring is based on several criteria determined by official Tom Perry who has also been with the program since its inception.

A takedown is worth 2 points, an escape earns a point and a reversal is 2 points, Richardson explained. Additionally, a near fall is worth either 2, or 3 points depending on how close the wrestler gets to a pin.

Richardson said in addition to the individual points, there are team points awarded for each bout which runs for three rounds lasting either one or two minutes each, depending on the age of the wrestlers.

If a wrestler wins by points, the team is awarded 3 points. A pin earns the wrestler’s team 6 points.

Richardson said Central won the opening night by a 24-12 margin in team points.

“The wrestlers have come a long way since we started,” said Jake Smith, coach for the combined Lihu‘e-Waimea team. “They have the basics and the matches are a lot more competitive.”

Richardson agreed, noting that this is the third year K-PAL has hosted the wrestling tournaments which will culminate with the K-PAL championships.

Both Richardson and Smith are looking forward to the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation entering the wrestling arena.

“We’re the only island that doesn’t have a (high school) wrestling program,” Smith said. “Even Moloka‘i has been wrestling for a long time.”

Mark Ozaki, one of the board members for K-PAL, said they will host the matches each Wednesday starting from 6 p.m. Additionally, Ozaki said he’s working with the wrestlers from the Westside club to have them join the K-PAL wrestlers in matches the last two weeks in April.

“That should give us a lot more matches,” Ozaki said. “On May 5, we’ll have the big K-PAL championships.”

There is no charge to come and watch the wrestlers, and people interested in wrestling can come to the matches to meet and talk with the coaches and wrestlers.

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