LIHU‘E — Kapa‘a High wrestler Herman Santos entered the 2020 Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation state-qualifying event Saturday at Kaua‘i High not knowing if he would qualify for the state championship meet.
Santos, who wrestled Kaua‘i High’s Gabriel Obeso in the 132-pound weight class, knew he would be in a tightly contested match.
In only his second season as a wrestler, Santos had one specific goal on his mind: The Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association 2020 Texaco Wrestling Championship Feb. 21 and 22 in Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.
“I was nervous at first, and when you go compete, it all goes away,” Santos said. “When you are on the mat, you don’t worry about it, and especially when you know the opponent so well.”
After Santos defeated Obeso in a competitive match, he admitted nothing defeated the feeling of going to Hawai‘i’s wrestling showcase.
“This is only my second year, and I feel awesome right now,” Santos said in a post-match interview with The Garden Island. “I feel awesome right now.”
An all-star showcase (SUBHEAD)
Kapa‘a High wrestling coach Jess Jensen felt Santos shined on his team that featured several wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament.
“I think they only wrestled three times, and every time they’ve faced each other they’ve been close matches, and think (Santos) was one of the better one’s today,” Jensen said.
Kaua‘i High’s Hasim Tarik toppled Kapa‘a’s Kaz Espina, which was an unexpected victory. All season Tarik lost to Espina, in the 138-pound weight classification.
“A fantastic job beating (the) kid who beat them before, executed everything perfectly, and it paid off today,” Red Raiders’ coach Paul Shindell said.
Shindell knows to get to this level isn’t easy.
“It’s such an accomplishment to make to this point right before the season,” Shindell said. “My kids are battling through everything — blood, sweat, tears, injuries, to make it to this point.”
The usual suspects (SUBHEAD)
Waimea High has a total of five wrestlers qualify for the state tournament: Kaya Akana (107), Ashlyn Agena (112), Kayana Niheu-Kamaka (184) are the girls who qualified, and Kylen ‘A‘ana (113) and Barak Aviguetero (126) are the Waimea boys who qualified for states.
Kapa‘a’s Tessa Jensen qualified for the state tournament for the third consecutive season, at 145 pounds, and said going to the tourney is an experience.
“It’s a tough competition, and there are a lot of outstanding wrestlers to try to place,” Jensen said. “We are going to try to get a place, hopefully, and all get work in.”
Jensen, who still remembers the first time she didn’t qualify, used this as motivation to be eligible for the next round.
“I didn’t qualify my freshman year, and I saw this as a good opportunity to get better,” Jensen said. “I pushed myself, and I wanted to be there, and I want to be on that podium.”
Kapa‘a’s Jolette Miner-Ho has qualified for the state tournament for the fourth-consecutive year, and she hopes to take the championship this time.
“My goal is just to perform whenever I am on the mat,” Miner-Ho said. “I am going to push myself to expect myself to excel and just leave it out there.”
107: 1. Kaya Akana (Waimea); 112: 1. Ashlyn Agena (Waimea); 2. Ella Ann-Kim (Kapa‘a); 117: 1. Anjolei Miyashiro (Kapa‘a); 122: 1. Meah Jensen (Kapa‘a); 127: 1. Olivia Kelekoma (Kapa‘a); 2. Nikki Tapucol (Kaua‘i); 132: 1. Meleana Rita (Kaua‘i); 2. Amber Cotter (Kapa‘a); 138: 1. Aisha Shimabukuro (Kapa‘a); 145: 1. Tessa Jensen (Kapa‘a); 155: 1. Alana Takata (Kaua‘i); 2. Tristee Souza (Kapa‘a); 168: 1. Jolette Miner-Ho (Kapa‘a); 184: 1. Kayana Niheu-Kamaka (Waimea); 2. Shylee Shimabukuro (Kapa‘a).
106: 1. Jayden Manibog (Kaua‘i); 113: 1. Kylen ‘A‘ana (Waimea); 120: 1. Mason Stoll-Tolentino (Kaua‘i); 126: 1. Barak Aviguetero (Waimea); 132: 1. Herman Santos (Kapa‘a); 2. Gabriel Obeso (Kaua‘i); 138: 1. Hasim Tarik (Kaua‘i); 2. Kaz Espina (Kapa‘a); 145: 1. Lester Garcia (Kapa‘a); 152: 1. Walker Turpin (Kaua‘i); 160: 1. Ganen Silva-Cardenas (Kaua‘i); 170: 1. Jaden Benham (Kaua‘i); 195: Kaimi Padrones (Kaua‘i); 220: Joshweigh Aguinaldo (Kapa‘a).
1. Kapa‘a 88 points; 2. Waimea, 38 points; 3. Kaua‘i, 36 points
1. Kaua‘i 82 points; 2. Kapa‘a 42 points; 3. Waimea 20 points.