Boys 170-pound class worth its own documentary

Keanu Punley lifted Kachi Respicio up high and slammed him down during Punley's 10-9 win in the OIA championships at the Leilehua gym Saturday. Steven Erler / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

If a documentary crew is available, bring your movie cameras and other gear to wrestling practices at various schools over the next week and plan to be at the state tournament Feb. 14 and 15 at Blaisdell Arena for a postscript.

There is an intense competition in Hawaii’s 170-pound class. Yes, it’s already been written about by Hawaii Prep World extensively, but the plots and subplots — if explored — may turn out to be better than reality TV.

None of these guys want to lose.

Let’s start a pretend documentary with headgear being thrown and smashing against the wall outside of the Leilehua gym.

A frustrated Kasey Kikuyama of Pearl City had just lost 3-1 to Kachi Respicio of Campbell in the semifinals of the OIA championships at Leilehua on Saturday.

These boys have history. On the screen, fade out to a week earlier, when Kikuyama’s hand is raised by officials after topping Respicio in the OIA West final at Pearl City.

Switch back to the Leilehua gym for a close-up view of Chargers coach Todd Los Banos, who says, “Kasey wrestled hard, but not enough.”

Quick fade to Respicio after his victory, but keep the volume low as he speaks and raise the volume when he gets to the words, “I will overcome everybody.”

Start the music, something to set the scene, “Thunderstruck” perhaps, by AC-DC.

Fade to black and then dissolve to gray and then to white and then blur the camera and bring it slowly into focus as Respicio and Leilehua’s Keanu Punley enter the ring for the OIA championship final.

Quick cuts to all the highlights of the fantastic triple-overtime match in which Respicio takes a 7-6 lead with a takedown, but, a little on down the road, ends up getting hoisted up way overhead by Punley and slammed down in a last-second desperation move with fans in the crowded gym going bananas. Punley scores two points but Respicio gets one point for a penalty (on the same sequence) and the score is 8-8. An escape by each wrestler and a penalty on Respicio for locking his hands together around Punley’s two legs as the latter tries to escape gives Punley the 10-9 win.

Show Punley’s hand raised. Show Respicio nodding his head as if to say, “I know, I lost. You won. This time!!!”

Cut to an interview with an excited Punley afterward, with a reporter asking, “What got you through it?”

And Punley’s answer comes out quickly: “I kept looking at the stands and the crowd was going wild and making me motivated. I looked at my mom and she was cheering at me, saying, ‘Let’s go. You gotta push.’ And I knew I had to push. My mind-set just changed and I told myself that I can do this. This is my last senior time. My senior night. I’m not going to lose.”

Fade to black. Go silent. Bring in the music: “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie.

Cut to Moanalua’s Lucas Misaki, who coaches against these guys. He says: “It’s a bracket that whatever other matches you’re watching, you’ll stop and look to see who wins. It’s the most exciting (part) of the tournament.”

Then cut to Rick Williams, the personable Aiea coach who helps to run the show and disseminates finals results to coaches and media after meets.

We’ve hired him to just read some of the data of what has happened in this 170-pound bracket in the bigger meets this year. Not sure if we’re paying him or not.

“170 pounds, early regular-season match, Pearl City’s Makoa Cooper, who Hawaii Prep World ranks No. 3 in its pound-for-pound rankings — who is up from his normal 160-pound division, and who happens to be Kikuyama’s training partner — defeats Punley 5-2″

“Moanalua duals, two 170-pound wrestlers go up to 182 to fill their team’s pukas and meet each other. Punahou’s Mason Canonico defeats Kikuyama 5-4″

“170 pounds, Officials tournament final, Punley defeats Kahuku’s Sitaleki Tongi 5-2″

“170 pounds, Officials tournament third place, Tongi defeats Kikuyama 7-6

“170 pounds, Officials tournament early round, Punley defeats Kapolei’s Gianni Oyadomari in triple overtime”

“Officials tournament, Respicio moves up to 182 and wins the title”

“170 pounds, OIA West tournament final, Kikuyama defeats Punley 3-0”

“170 pounds, OIA West third-place match, Oyadomari defeats Respicio 6-4”

“170 pounds, OIA championships final, Punley defeats Respicio 10-9”

“170 pounds, OIA championships third-place match, Kikuyama defeats Roosevelt’s Salvador Gonzalez 6-2″

“170 pounds, OIA championships fifth-place match, Oyadomari defeats Tongi 5-1”

“170 pounds, OIA championships semifinal, Respicio defeats Oyadomari 6-5”

“170 pounds, OIA championships semifinal, Punley defeats Tongi 5-4”

“170 pounds, OIA championships quarterfinal, Punley defeats Gonzalez 2-1”

“170 pounds, OIA championships quarterfinal, Oyadomari defeats Moanalua’s Jaycen Crisostomo 3-2″

“170 pounds, OIA championships consolation semifinal, Gonzalez defeats Oyadomari 3-1”

“170 pounds, OIA championships consolation semifinal, Kikuyama defeats Tongi 2-1”

In the audio background, Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury sings loud and clear, “Watching some people scream “Let me out.”

And before anyone can accuse Williams of being a windbag, we get Al Michaels to come in and say a few words. This is, after all, a fake documentary script.

And he adds to the importance of it all: “Rick Williams just mentioned 17 items, 16 of which were individual matches. Eight of those matches were decided by a single point, two ended with a two-point winner, three won by three, and two won by four points. Another match with no official score available went to triple overtime. There were incursions from and to other weight classes. Respicio went up 12 pounds and took a title. Cooper stepped up 10 more pounds into a domain that is not his and won a title. Imagine if Cooper could get in to that class? Now that would be fun, wouldn’t it? You tell us your feedback. Are we overhyping this weight class or does this weight class deserve every bit of this type of attention? Either way, we are left wondering who will will win at states.”

Del Shannon‘s “Runaway” takes over in the background as Los Banos returns to tell us what, in his mind, makes wrestling great. It’s not so much about the championships, he is saying, but it is about the matching up with the best possible opponents you can find.

“We really haven’t even seen the outer islands,” he says. “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.”

The documentary crew goes out and gets footage from all the wrestlers named above to get a lots of sound bites at their various practices. They talk about the challenge, what motivates them and some of the strengths and possibly weaknesses of their opponents.

Sprinkle those sound bites into a montage, with “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen playing.

After that, make a quick cut to Punley’s slam of Respicio followed by Respicio’s postmatch nod of respect and revenge. Play it again in slow motion.

Fade to a blank screen and then follow with the camera trained on the door that leads into the gym at Blaisdell Arena. Have each wrestler walk through the door one by one and go to the mat and get in a circle facing the middle in their best wrestling pose.

Fade out.

And then go to a gray screen and then to white and then to black as the credits roll and the ending music plays: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” from the movie of the same name.


  1. Ugh February 5, 2018 9:27 am

    Why don’t u mention that barefoot #182 wasn’t at officials and he has beaten respicio 3 times this year last one being a tech at 17-2. I think half these guys are to scared to jump up to 182.

  2. Ugh lee February 5, 2018 11:21 am

    You forget to mention that Barefoot #182 wasn’t here for officials or moanalua duals and that he has beaten respicio 3 times this year last one being a 17-2 tech. Big ups to the 170 class but I believe its loaded because they feel they have a better shot at 170 than 182.

  3. Interested February 6, 2018 7:49 pm

    Don’t forget Takenaka( former state finalist) from Pac5 who may be at the weight as well.

  4. Fact Checker February 9, 2018 8:00 am

    Not sure about pac5 but there is a Takenaka from Iolani at 170….LOL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email