Six KIF girls find Pa‘ani podium

Six female wrestlers from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation finished on the podium at the Pa‘ani Challenge over the weekend at Punahou School on Oahu.

Shanaya Marshall from Kapaa High School and Sarai Valdez of Kauai High School both topped the winners by finishing with gold medals at the tournament that featured more than 350 girls representing 37 high schools from Hawaii and Canada.

“We are very proud of all our wrestlers,” said Kapaa wrestling coach Larry Richardson. “Every one of them wrestled hard and represented both Kapaa High School and the island of Kauai very well.”

Marshall finished by winning the gold medal in the 127 Pound Novice division. She was joined by fellow Warrior Tessa Jensen who finished in seventh place in the 138 Pound Novice division, and Joji Miner-Ho who captured fourth place in the 168 Pound Novice division.

Kauai High School freshman Valdez finished with gold in the 97 Pound Novice division, and was joined by sophomore Justice Funamura-Sasil ending in seventh place in the 112 Pound Open division.

Valdez advanced to the finals in the 97 Pound Novice class with a fall over Brianna Funakoshi of Aiea a minute into the match. She claimed gold following another fall over Catlin Yap of Moanalua that came at the 3:47 mark.

Funamura-Sasil opened on a losing note after being pinned by Alexis Encinas of Lahainaluna.

But she came back strong, pinning Ashley Falces of Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama at the 2:30 mark, and advanced after taking Makanna Kadooka of Konawaena on a forfeit. Another loss marred her trip on the podium after she lost to Alexis Gibbs of Damien Memorial on a decision, and a defeat by pin of Higaki Keireannia of Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii clinched her berth.

Kaya Akana of Waimea High School rounded out the podium winners with a fifth place at the 112 Pound Novice class.

In addition to the two medalists, Ballard said the Kauai High School team included Jordyn Kahananui who finished with an 1-3 record in the 117 Pound class, Rhea Michelle Gambeng who ended with a 1-2 record in the 117 Pound class, and Shaelin Manibog who finished 0-2 in the 102 Pound class.

Coach Mac Pigott, KIF wrestling tournament director, said the Pa‘ani Challenge is the largest all-girls wrestling tournament in the nation.

In addition to the wrestling competition, the challenge featured Roosevelt High School graduate and Olympic bronze medalist Clarissa Chung directing a clinic for the wrestlers.

The KIF wrestlers take to the mats Saturday when the season opens with the first tournament at the Wilcox Gymnasium at Island School. The first matches are scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

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