The Iolani boys wrestling team ruled December, but coach Walden Au is quick to point out that is way in the past.
The Raiders swept the Officials tournament and followed it up with gold at the Moanalua Duals, a sweep in two entirely different types of competitions that prove that they are up for anything.
The Raiders have not won a state title since 2003 under coach Yoshi Honda, who is now in their way at Punahou. They finished fifth last year in Au’s first campaign. Au and some of his staff helped Honda earn the title way back when.
Au doesn’t want to hear it. He says there is too much work to do between now and the end of the season.
Here is a ranking of the top boys teams in the middle of January, topped by the resurgent Raiders.
The Raiders, who finished fifth at states last year, are a convincing No. 1 this year. ‘Iolani won the Officials tournament and followed it up with the gold at the Moanalua Duals. The Raiders have four state placers in their wrestling room but Brian Pascua is their only state champ. So much can change, but here is how they lined up in the preseason. There are some holes because they didn’t put any wrestlers in those weight classes.
106: Dayne Torigoe: Won Officials 3-2 over Moanlaua’s Logan Garcia and won a round robin last week. Kaua Nishigaya won at this weight last week as well.
113: Colby Watase: He is a two-time state placer, coming in fourth in each of the last two years. He took third at Officials this year and won a round robin last week. Hunter Fujiwara is behind him.
120: Jake Nakasone: The senior is a three-time state placer but never higher than fourth. He has one ILH title to his credit and took Officials this year. He also won a round robin last week.
126: James Mizota: He is a captain of this crew but has never placed at states or won an ILH title. He finished second to Zehren Terukina of Campbell last weekend by a 9-4 decision.
132: Jake Angelo: Angelo has never placed at states but pinned both of the opponents he faced last week. Angelo went 3-2 at Officials after being pinned by Kapolei’s Shandon Ilaban-Totten.
138: Kaysen Takenaka: He was the darling of last year’s state tournament, taking out the top seed and reaching the final as a freshman before losing to Kaiser’s Chance Ikei. That success hasn’t carried over to this year, he finished fourth at Officials but pinned two opponents last week after being dominated by Pearl City’s Baylen Cooper.
152: Brian Pascua: The easy favorite in the state in the weight class this year, Pascua has won the ILH twice and reach the state final two years in a row. He was second to three-time state champ Brayden Akeo of Mililani two years ago but bounced back to shut out Baldwin’s Thomas Stevenson 5-0 in last year’s final. True to his pedigree, Pascua won Officials this year and won last week as well.
160: Isaac Anderson: Anderson was registered for Officials but didn’t wrestle. The Raiders have not had anyone else attempt this weight in a tournament this year.
170: Akihiro Wakiri: Wakiri was also scheduled for Officials but did not wrestle.
182: Saiaga Fautanu: This class is wide open and might be Faitanu’s to lose. He has never placed at states, but neither has anyone else who has appeared in a tournament in this division this year. He took Officials in December but suffered a 5-4 loss to Kaiser’s Micah Arakawa last week.
220: Hunter and Charles Kam have appeared here for the Raiders, and they were both pinned by division boss James Sullivan of Campbell in their only matches last week. Charles Kam lost both of his matches at Officials, the second by forfeit.
285: Dane Yamashiro: Another inexperienced wrestler on the state level, the big boy finished third at Officials after a close loss to Punahou’s Kanai Eldredge and won twice last week.
The Sabers were fourth last year but return more state placers than any other boys team with five. They were second to the Raiders at Officials but slipped to seventh at the Moanalua duals. Campbell is led by James Sullivan at 220 pounds, but Triston Santos is their only state champ.
106: Isaac Adriano; 113: Triston Santos; 120: none; 126: Zayren Terukina; 132: Steven Pangelinan; 138: Ashton Goodness; 145: Josh Gallarde; 152: Joshua Kahiona; 160: Noah Respicio; 170: Alize Wright; 182: none; 195: Micah Tynanes; 220: James Sullivan; 285: Jeran Basco or Isaiah Sylva.
The Hurricanes were fourth at Officials and lost in the semifinals at the duals. They boast of four state placers including state champ Shandon Ilaban-Totten, who got his crown a year after Moses Wiseman became the first in school history to do so.
106: none; 113: Andre Pagurayan; 120: Jayson Pagurayan; 126: Treyson Caniete; 132: Shandon Ilaban-Totten; 138: Ben Mina or Jehrel Sampayan; 145: none; 152: Rodman Salagdron; 160: Gianni Oyadomori; 170: none; 182: none; 195: none; 220: Johnny Morrison; 285: Donte Keliiholokai.
The Warriors are starting slow after a ninth place finish at Officials and failing to get into the winner’s bracket at the duals, but they do boast of three state placers and state champion Blaysen Terukina. They were third at states last year. Jayden Key Byrd and Cullen Slavens return from aiding in that effort.
Possible state placers: Terukina, Jayden Key Byrd, Kama Suzuki-Scott, Cullen Slavens, Trever Kahunahana.
The Bears are the highest ranking team that doesn’t have a state champ, but they made it to the semis of the Moanalua Duals and look like they will give defending state champion Lahainaluna a rub in the MIL this year and maybe for years to come. They return three state placers.
Possible state placers: Kolby Inouye, Souta Nardi, Alexander Kalilikane Delos Reyes, Thomas Stevenson, Laakea Joy, Troy Waki, Jayden Ferreirra.
The Seariders finished ahead of Kamehameha at the Moanalua Duals and took fifth at Officials, but do not have a state champ to strut around their room. They have had just one state champ since 1998 (Ray Matthewson in 2008) but Sheldon Bailey and Jacob Naosusuga are looking to change that. Keale Keliinoi is their other state placer.
Possible state placers: Keale Keliinoi, Chavison Kamalu, Sheldon Bailey, Zhachary Carreiro, Jacob Naosusuga, Seireadan Sana, Felix Dellatan, Caleb Cardus, Kayson Kekahuna, Levi Jenks.
The Wolfpack are really hard to judge since they are only a team until league championships roll around and then they go their separate ways. Still, they made it to the semifinals of the Moanalua Duals and finished in the top 10 in Officials. The proud conglomeration returns only two state placers.
Possible state placers: Kerry Mizota, Ian Murakami, Joseph Fong, Alex Mimura, Dylan Ellis, Lincoln Mussell, Thomas Nitta.
The Buffanblu probably should be higher, but they disappointed at the Duals and finished 10th at Officials. No worries, though, their second-place finish at states last year was no fluke and they return Cameron Kato, who might be the best wrestler in the state. They are unproven after Kato, though, with Kanai Eldredge the only other boy with pedigree.
Possible state placers: Justin Abe, Cameron Kato, Austin Nakao, Mason Canancio, Ian Ramirez, Kanai Eldredge.
Liam Corbett, who runs the 160 division, is their only state placer but he has pulled his teammates along with him early in the year, finishing in the top half of the duals and eighth at Officials.
Possible state placers: Isaac Stalcup, Donovan Morante, Liam Corbett, Brett Barefoot, Natane Muti.
Na Menehune return only one state placer but they scrap enough to finish top six in both Officials and their home duals.
Possible state placers: Logan Garcia, Noah Wusstig, Antonio Ruiz, Adonis Basto, Caeleb Reyes, Jeron Justo, Huakai Self, Caleb Garcia.
Also: Saint Louis, Mililani, Lahainaluna