Zayren Terukina did a backflip after winning his first wrestling state title Saturday at the Blaisdell Arena.
Terukina, a Campbell wrestler in the 132-pound class, had just defeated Radford’s Christian Tavares 7-1 in the final.
And the pressure was on, too. Big-time. Five Terukinas before him had wrapped up at least one state championship — father Darryl, uncle Ben, and brothers Shayden, Blaysen and Kysen.
A junior, Zayren will be going for his second state crown next year, but if he hadn’t won it Saturday, the pressure would have been a lot worse in 2018.
Interestingly, earlier in the night, younger brother Kysen, a Kamehameha freshman, attained his first state title by topping Damien’s Landon Obra-Nakata 7-1 in the 113-pound final. He now has a chance to be the first in the family with four high school championships.
Kysen had a bit of fun after his win at his brothers’ expense. Asked for his opinion on who the best wrestler in the family is, Kysen said, “Me.”
But he did give kudos to his brothers.
“I have all of them to teach me and I have all that knowledge with me when I go and wrestle on the mat,” he added.
Pushed further, Kysen was asked if he wanted to say, without fear of reprisal, that he was indeed a better wrestler than Blaysen, who is wrestling at Menlo College now, and he said, “I’m a better pound-for-pound wrestler than Blaysen.”
Why not say it? He was sitting on top of the world after pushing all season to make his family proud.
Zayren was also asked to rank himself among the Terukinas.
“No. 1,” he said at first before laughing and saying, “Right now I’m at the bottom with the least amount of state titles and hopefully I can come back stronger next year. Me and Kysen are at the bottom, but he has more years (three) left than I do (one). Growing up with three older brothers, he picked up a lot. My two older brothers made me better, too.”
The Cooper family from Pearl City added another wrestler to the state championship ranks Saturday. Makoa Cooper got it done in the 152-pound division, beating Kaiser’s Nicholas Mair 16-4 in the final. He joins brothers Raynald, Blake and Baylen with at least one state title.
Blake and Baylen are wrestling at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore., according to Makoa, who also said that Raynald is training in mixed martial arts.
“My brothers, they’re just aggressive. Blake is technical. Baylen’s quick. Ray is real aggressive. It’s perfect training partners right there, all of them. I’m the type who likes to think about everything. I analyze my opponents and see their weaknesses.”
Pac-Five’s Alexandre Mimura, who defeated Waianae’s Zhachary Carreiro in the 145-pound final, had a good story to tell after his win.
“In eighth grade, I got to know the Teraos (Mid-Pacific brothers Josh Terao, who won four state titles from 2011 to 2014, and two-time state champion David Terao) and I used to train with them and I’m pretty close with them,” said Mimura, who attends Mid-Pacific. “I went to visit them this summer. Their family has treated me like family since the time I moved here from New York (in eighth grade). On my first day of practice back then, I said I was going to beat Josh Terao by the end of season. I had a big head. Next time I see him, I’ll ask him to wrestle me. I think I could give him rubs.”
Josh Terao wrestles for American University in Washington D.C., and Mimura is “really considering” going there to wrestle, too. David Terao is a graduate assistant at American after finishing his wrestling career there.
Primal emotion is a huge part of wrestling at states. ‘Iolani’s Sai Fautanu was overcome with tears and sobbing after his 3-1 win in the 195-pound class over Moanalua’s Damien Agao Casaban.
A little while later, Castle’s Isley Busch-Matuu could only bend over and cry in disappointment upon leaving the mat after losing by pin at 220 pounds against Campbell’s Micah Tynanes-Perez.
In addition, Campbell senior Triston Santos celebrated extra actively and it took a while for him to calm down after he topped Lahainaluna’s Kainalu Estrella 8-3 in the 126-pound final to add a second state title to the one he got as a sophomore.
Four ‘Iolani wrestlers came through with wins in the finals to help the Raiders to the team title.
Dane Yamashiro (285) had a relatively easy (although nothing in wrestling is easy) time pinning Baldwin’s Feitosa Leite, but the three others barely got by — Fautanu made a late takedown for his two-point win; Kainoa Torigoe fought back in the last few seconds for a 4-4 tie at 106 pounds against Waipahu’s Hunter Nagatani before winning it 6-4 in extra time; and KJ Pascua came back from a 5-4 deficit for a 5-5 tie at the end of regulation before capturing it 7-5 in overtime.
It was an amazing show on the final day for the Raiders.
“We have a storied history for wrestling,” said ‘Iolani coach Walden Au of the program that has won 14 state crowns. “We went a while without (team) accolades. Last year’s and this year’s team championships reflect the work put in over the last four or five years.”
The Raiders had a 12-year title drought from 2004 through 2015.
Aiea’s Brandon Burgos was pumped up after winning Aiea’s first boys individual title since 1990. He pinned Baldwin’s Laakea Joy in the 160-pound division.
“I went in there having the mentality that I was going to walk out a winner and I was going to do anything I could to get it,” said Burgos, who plans to go to a junior college next year to wrestle. He’s been accepted at Iowa Western.
“I want to start off there, become a JC national champ and transfer to D-I or D-II,” he said, brimming with confidence.
Brett Barefoot of Leilehua is the new champion at 182 pounds after he pinned Campbell’s Alize Wright in the final.
If anyone is wondering about his unique sounding last name, he is of Cherokee descent and he and his family moved to Oahu three years ago from Baltimore.
Pearl City’s Mikayla Abe, a three-time Oahu Interscholastic Association champion, watched a close call go the other way in her 2-1 loss to Kalani’s Czarina Pineda-Abaya for the 122-pound title.
Abe felt she scored just before time ran out, but the refs didn’t see it that way.
“I understand that in wresting you can’t leave it up to the refs, but I escaped and reversed,” Abe said. “They called it out of bounds. I thought it was in bounds.”
Pineda-Abaya said she pinned Abe at a meet in Mililani earlier in the year.
“We’re both good wrestlers, so it was up to the person that pushed more,” Pineda-Abaya added.
Another star of the show, of course, was Saint Louis’ Corey Cabanban, who defeated Moanalua’s Logan Garcia 7-2 in the 120-pound final. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s No. 1 pound-for-pound wrestler will be going for his fourth state championship next year.
Two girls champions, Teniya Alo of Kahuku (132, No. 1 p4p) and Angela Peralta (145, No. 2 p4p) didn’t let on beforehand that they were wrestling through injuries. Peralta said she had a bad ankle injury all season, and Alo said she’s going in for another shoulder surgery in two weeks.
Six of the 14 girls weight classes were won by athletes from the Neighbor Islands, including four from team champion Lahainaluna — Ira Navarro (97), Alexis Encinas (112), Nanea Estrella (117) and Kauanoe Keahi (138). The other two are Keaau’s Ivory Ayers (168) and Baldwin’s Jahnea Miguel (127).