Faith Joy Okubo leads Moanalua to state repeat in judo

Faith Joy Okubo, top, is one of 13 Moanalua athletes to be picked to the OIA East All-Stars first team. Darryl Oumi / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The Moanalua girls also took home their respective team title for the second year in a row with 84 total points. Punahou was in second with 53 points, followed by Mililani’s 52.

“For the first one, it was so special last year that we didn’t know if we would have this opportunity again so to get it back-to-back, it was super special for our team and they worked so hard for it,” Moanalua girls coach Derron Maki said, who is brothers with Brandon. “We had such a high standard from last year that the girls just kept working hard day in and day out.

“They practice extra hard in extra practices, not just the regular practices. I just feel like they put in so much work and time and that was really reflected today.”

Faith Joy Okubo was the only Moanalua girl to win an individual title on Saturday, defeating Pearl City’s Chanel Hunter in the 154 finals by ippon.

The title was a long time coming for Okubo, who has appeared in the finals three times but finally broke through on Saturday.

“It feels amazing and honestly, all glory goes to God,” she said. “It’s my senior year and I just wanted to win it so bad after falling short the past years.”

Kamehameha’s Skye Realin was the lone repeat winner on the girls’ side, defeating Hilo’s Hula Kahookaulana in the 129 finals via ippon. Konawaena’s Kapoina Bailey was denied a second straight 172 title by Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Anela Manuia in the finals due to han soku make.

As a sophomore, Realin has put herself in position for a potential slam as well. But she hasn’t thought that far ahead, choosing to relish her most recent win instead.

“It feels really good. I’m just overly excited right now,” she said. “One year at a time. Tomorrow’s the next day, today is today. We’ll celebrate today and focus on tomorrow later. We’re just gonna take it one day at a time.”

While Realin was the only girl to win her second consecutive title, Mid-Pacific’s CJ Pascual-Tabuyo took her second total title after losing in last year’s 139 finals.

The 129 champion in 2017 took home the 139 title on Saturday with an ippon of Kalani’s Phoebe Pineda-Abaya in the final.

But her mere presence on the mats defied the odds. Two years ago, two stress fractures were discovered in Pascual-Tabuyo’s spine.

“It’s actually been a really long journey for me, especially coming back from injuries and a back injury that when they first told me about it, they said my judo career has ended and that’s it for me,” she said. “I wasn’t able or else I would endanger my back and endanger my ability to walk in the future if I did anything.

“I’m just amazed that I was able to get this far, especially through everything and it’s been really hard. Just the training and going through all the pain and all the rehab, it was really long and I just can’t believe I made it up here.”

Pascual-Tabuyo said she’s more concerned about the process rather than her results, even as she prepares to take state crown No. 3 next year.

“I’m just focused on the journey and what I learned through everything. Even if I do lose again, what really matters is me doing my best,” she said. “I’ve learned from my mistakes and I tried my hardest, I did whatever I could do. If I do my best and I keep on grinding and keep on doing what I love, that’s all that matters.”


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