Kalaheo’s Rysan Leong looks for OIA breakthrough

Kalaheo's Rysan Leong, left, lost to Pearl City's Makoa Cooper in the OIA final last year but came back to pull the upset in states and is now ranked No. 2 in Hawaii Prep World's pound-for-pound rankings. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Kalaheo’s Rysan Leong is not going to be able to sneak up on anyone this year.

Leong, No. 2 in Hawaii Prep World’s pound-for-pound rankings, will attempt to earn his first OIA championship at Leilehua on Saturday.

Leong failed in his bid to join Jacob Solomon as Kalaheo’s second OIA champion since 2001 when he bloodied Pearl City’s Makoa Cooper‘s nose and outscored him 7-5 in the third period but fell short 12-7. Leong more than made up for it the next week in the state championship final, stuffing a Cooper takedown attempt at the buzzer to pull the 4-3 upset for his first state crown.

Leong became the second state champion from Kalaheo since 1998 — Solomon in 2014 was the other.

Leong won’t have it easy if last week is any indication. While Leong was being pushed by Moanalua’s Andrew Adiniwin in the OIA East title match, Radford’s Taylor Daack was pinning Brian Himalaya of Waianae for the OIA West title at 170 pounds. Daack pinned his way through the tournament with three stoppages and looked impressive doing so.

While Leong goes for his first OIA championship, five boys will be looking for a repeat trip to the top of the podium at Leilehua.

Koby Chun of Kaiser and Moanalua’s Elijah Asuncion could meet up in a battle of reigning OIA champions at 120 pounds. Chun upset Asuncion last week at the OIA East championships. Asuncion won the OIA title at 113 pounds last year while Chun ruled at 120.

Noah Wusstig gives Moanalua a second boy with a chance at a repeat, but Boltyn Taam is going for a different sort of repeat. Taam won the ILH title with Saint Louis last year and will be looking for his first OIA crown since transferring to Moanalua. The last boy to win an ILH title and follow it with an OIA crown was Alex Ursua, who went from University to Pearl City in 2014.

Ursua was a senior when he made the switch, Taam is a sophomore.

Kaena Desantos goes for a repeat after leading the Mules to the team title last year and Branden Pagurayan of Kapolei will attempt to win his second league title as a sophomore and put himself halfway to a slam.

He is the third Pagurayan to win an OIA title but can become the second to repeat after Jayson won three from 2014-16. No Kapolei boy has completed the slam, but Shandon Ilaban Totten has collected three with Jayson Pagurayan.


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