After five years of participating in the 49th annual Garner Ivey Maui Invitational Tournament at King Kekaulike High School, wrestlers from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation finally set foot on the podium, said Mac Pigott, KIF wrestling director.
“This is the fifth year that wrestlers from the KIF member school competed in the MIT,” Pigott said. “This year, the ice was broken. Although matches have been won, previously no wrestler from the KIF ever made it to the podium. Following two days of intense competition, three KIF wrestlers walked off with medals.”
Madison Leanio, a Kauai High School senior, led the hardware taking by finishing second in a 24-wrestler field in the 152-pound division.
Another Kauai wrestler, freshman Sarai Valdez, finished third in a six-wrestler bracket in the 97-pound division, and Kapaa High School junior Braeden Jensen finished fourth in a 21-wrestler field in the 160-pound division.
“It was great to see all the Kauai public high school represented and competing at a high level,” said Kapaa coach Jess Jenseon. “After all of the preseason preparation, it is nice to go and compete against very strong competition to see where we are at. We will take the lessons we learned and continue preparing for the regular season. Kapaa High School only had one wrestler at the MIT, and we look forward to next week when we will have more of our Kapaa Warrior team competing at the Officials Scholarship Tournament on Oahu.”
Pigot said the MIT tournament featured 20 high schools, including one from California and one from Canada who brought wrestlers to battle in the first big tournament of the Hawaii high school wrestling season.
The field included 127 girls and 233 boys competing in the individual format tournament in weight classes ranging from 97 pounds to 285 pounds.
“The MIT is not only one of the first and biggest, but has also proven to be one of the toughest tournaments in Hawaii every year,” Pigot said. “If you check the record book, most of the top placers in each division also place in the state championships in February.”
Pigot said KIF wrestlers will be competing at the Officials Scholarship Tournament at Leilehua High School on Oahu on Friday and Saturday.