It’s the match many were waiting for Friday — Kamehameha’s Kanai Tapia vs. Moanalua’s Boltyn Taam at 152 pounds.
And it was a showcase match for sure.
Tapia got by, but barely — 6-4 in overtime to move into the semifinals of the Texaco/HHSAA Wrestling State Championships on Saturday.
Tapia is going for his first state championship while Taam came into the tourney, down from the 160-pound division that he won last year. Tapia is No. 4 in Hawaii Prep World’s pound-for-pound rankings while Taam is No. 6 — the highest-ranked non league champion.
Tapia will meet Campbell’s Malcolm Bell in Saturday’s semifinals. The winner will meet in the final against either top-seeded and two-time reigning 152-pound champion Branden Pagurayan of Kapolei or Hanalani’s Stone Franczyk.
“I was really tired and body was sore, but when it comes down to it, you gotta just dig deep and it comes down to whoever wants it more,” Tapia said. “In that moment, I wanted it more. It could change next time, but right there, that was pure heart.”
Tapia went ahead 4-3 with a takedown with 37 seconds left, but Taam tied it 4-4 when Tapia was called for clasping hands together just before the end of the third period.
Tapia then won early in OT, striking for a single-leg takedown.
“It was really tiring,” Tapia addedd. “He caught me a couple of times. I caught him. It went back and forth. That’s what I expect all of my matches to be like. It’s good. I can learn from it. Tommorrow, I just gotta wrestle better than I did today, remember my technique. I’m gonna watch film to see what I did wrong so I can better myself for tomorrow.”