WAIMEA — With the Kauai Interscholastic Federation wrestling championships looming Saturday at Island School, 24 wrestlers weighed in for the final qualifying matches at the Clem Gomes Gym.
“As the season winds down, the dominant wrestlers have established themselves as the top seeds in their respective divisions,” said Coach Mac Pigott, the KIF wrestling tournament director. “Following the KIF championship this Saturday, the boy and girl league champions in each weight class will qualify to advance to the Chevron Hawaii High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships, March 6 and 7 on Oahu.”
The grapplers worked through 19 bouts with Kaisa Ishikawa handily taking the girls 102-pound class over freshman Jordyn Kahananui, and Brianna Kaneshiro, a new face on the mats, claiming the girls 155-pound class.
“She just wanted to try something new,” said Troy Kaneshiro, Brianna’s dad, who was watching the matches along with Brianna’s grandparents. “She said she wanted to check out wrestling so we’re just supporting. It was her choice.”
Pigott said other KIF girls appearing to claim state berths include Nika Tapucol and Sanoe Kalama, as well as Ishikawa.
On the boys’ arena, Kauai’s Madison Leanio and Bryson Yoro, both veteran grapplers, mixed it up in the 145-152 mixed weight class, Leanio handing Yoro a rare defeat following six minutes of intense technical wrestling and Leanio claiming victory by five points.
Other Kauai boys taking victories include Nicholas Gabriel getting a pinfall over Kapaa’s Elia Leone in the boys 152-pound class.
Another crowd favorite, the boys 220-pound class, gave the audience a treat as Conner Donahue, making his recent debut on the KIF wrestling mats, usurped Ian Garcia from the top spot after Garcia claimed Donaher during the dual format bouts on Thursday.
“Donaher, one of the probable Menehune to make states, has wrestled tough in the KIF since his family moved to the island,” Pigott said. “However, he missed the big pre-season tournaments and is untested at the state level.”
Pigott said Kapaa freshman Braeden Jensen, a Kapaa transfer, is also untested at the state level despite dominating the 160-pound weight class, and favorite to attend states in the class.
Jensen bested Eosin Chelius of Island School and Kauai’s Chasen Alayvilla to claim the boys 160-pound class Saturday.
“Kapaa has several young wrestlers who will be the ones to watch in future years as their program matures,” Pigott said. “Likewise, the Island School Voyagers are developing with several young wrestlers, such as Eosin Chelius and Summer Juttell, looking to become dominant in the KIF.”
While Suttell did not weigh in Saturday, Chelius finished second to Kapaa’s Jensen and ahead of Kauai’s Chasen Alayvilla.
Kapaa had Keaolewa Davis Mendija topping the mixed lower weight exhibition bouts, besting his teammate James Lindsey, and Nehemaia Kafoa, despite being bested by Ian Garcia in the opening match of the boys 220-pound class, received accolades from the Waimea’s coaching box.
The KIF wrestling championships start at 10 a.m. at the Wilcox Gym at Island School.
Girls 102 pounds: Kaisa Ishikawa (Kau), Jordyn Kahananui (Kau)
Girls 155 pounds: Brianna Kaneshiro (Kau), Sarah Matsunaga (Kau)
Boys mixed lower weight exhibition: Keaolewa Davis Mendija (Kap), James Lindsey (Kap), Corey Agena (Wai)
Boys 145-152 mixed weight: Madison Leanio (Kau), 145 Bryson Yoro (Kau), 152 Athens Acosta (Wai)
Boys 152 pounds: Nicholas Gabriel (Kau), Elia Leone (Kap)
Boys 160 pounds: Braeden Jensen (Kap), Eosin Chelius (IS), Chasen Alayvilla (Kau)
Boys 182 pounds: Andrew Evans (Wai), Kenneth Niheu (IS), Levi Eulalio (Kap)
Boys 220 pounds: Conner Donahue (Wai), Ian Garcia (Wai), Nehemaia Kafoa (Kap)