Early in this wrestling season, it was apparent that the 170-pound boys division was pretty solid.
But the more coaches you talk to and the more time passes, the more you realize that this is a great group. And having so many good wrestlers in one division is rare.
The biggest league, the OIA, has many top-notch boys in that class and there are sure to be others from the ILH, the MIL and the BIIF who will fight for the upcoming state championship.
“We really haven’t even seen the outer islands,” Pearl City coach Todd Los Banos said. “But 170 is stacked with studs. It’s really nice to see nobody is running from each other and are all going after each other. It’s good for wrestling in Hawaii when guys don’t run. To me, it’s the toughest weight class in the state because there’s so many possibilities. It’s seven or eight deep with all pretty solid guys and if you don’t wrestle well or you’re not wrestling smart, anybody can win. Usually a division will have one or two studs. This is just unreal.”
Kachi Respicio of Campbell got back at Kasey Kikuyama of Pearl City on Friday at the OIA championships. He won 3-1 to move to the semfinals, where Gianni Oyadomari of Kapolei awaits. On the other side of the bracket, Keanu Punley of Leilehua and Sitaleki Tongi will do battle.
Punley won the Officials tournament in December at 170 with a 5-2 win in the final over Tongi, but Kikuyama beat both Respicio and Punley to take the OIA West title.
Another wrestler in that division, Roosevelt’s Salvador Gonzalez showed that he was right there in the mix on Friday, losing 2-1 in the quarterfinals to Punley.
For Respicio, who cut weight from 182 to go where he prefers at 170, it was a great comeback in what has been an intense rivalry with Kikuyama.
“Those two guys have been going back and forth for two years now,” Los Banos said. “Kachi is one up on Kasey. But on any given day, they can both beat each other. They battle. It could have gone either way (Friday). Some calls didn’t go our way, but that’s part of it. Kasey wrestled hard, but not enough.”
Last year, Respicio beat Kikuyama in their first matchup and then Kikuyama came back to beat him at the OIAs. Respicio then topped Kikuyama at states.
“I was holding my own at 182,” said Respicio, who won at Officials at that weight. “But there is way more stuff that I can show at 170, which is my real weight. And there are absolutely a lot of great wrestlers at 170.”
Two other coaches joined in on the accolades for 170.
“It’s a really tough bracket, 170,” Leilehua coach Kevin Corbett said. “It’s about five kids deep, at least, in the OIA, and anyone of them can win it. Kachi didn’t win against the Pearl City kid last week, but he beat him this week. I haven’t seen this type of bracket (in a long time).”
Added Moanalua coach Lucas Misaki: “It’s a bracket that whatever other matches you’re watching, you’ll stop and look to see who wins (at 170). It’s the most exciting (part) of the tournament.”
Going for three
The following wrestlers are going for a third OIA title today at Leilehua:
>> No. 6 Macy Higa, Roosevelt, 117
>> No. 8 Logan Garcia, Moanalua, 126
>> No. 2 Zayren Terukina, 145
>> No. 8 Jennie Fuamatu, Pearl City, 168
Going for two
The following are going for a second OIA title:
>> Allicia Mahoe, Kapolei, 97
>> Haylee Fujioka, Roosevelt, 107
>> No. 1 Teniya Alo, Kahuku, 138
>> No. 2 Kelani Corbett, Leilehua, 155
>> No. 3 Makoa Cooper, Pearl City, 160