Kamehameha’s Kanai Tapia wins twice at Ironman

Kamehameha's Kanai Tapia got the experience of a lifetime at the Walsh Ironman. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser

Kamehameha’s Kanai Tapia did his best Terukina impression at the elite Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament in Ohio.

Tapia entered the tournament when teammate Kysen Terukina was invited and won his first match at the elite event. Terukina opted not to compete.

The unseeded Tapia had a bye in the first round and faced No. 11 seed Travis Ragland of New Kent, who won his first match in only 52 seconds, in the second.

After a scoreless first period, Tapia put Ragland on his back halfway through the second and the New Kent wrestler was saved by the buzzer. The third period was more of the same and Tapia walked away with an 8-0 victory.

Tapia fell into the consolation bracket in his next match but did not go quietly, falling 7-4 to Blake Saito of Perryman. Tapia was in the match the whole way and found himself tied midway through the second period before allowing his foe to reverse his position in the third and seal it.

There was still much to learn in the consolation bracket, and Tapia came through. He faced Tyler Muldrew of Steubenville before winning a thriller. Tapia trailed 1-0 until there were only 21 seconds left in the match when he escaped to tie it and promptly took Muldew down to earn a 3-1 victory.

Tapia’s experience ended in the next round when he fell 10-2 to Jonah Smith of Findlay. Smith nearly stuck Tapia at the end of the second and built up an 8-0 lead before the Warrior rallied to wrestle his final period at the tournament even.

Moanalua’s Boltyn Taam is also in the 145 bracket at the tournament but failed to collect a victory. Hawaii’s 160-pound champion drew Lorenzo Norman of Blair Academy in the first round, was taken down early but countered just as quickly with an escape. Taam fought back after another takedown but got stuck at the end of the first period down 9-3.

Taam recovered for a scoreless second period and began the third with a takedown but finished on the wrong side of a 12-5 score.

Taam drew Grayston DiBlasi of Park Hill in the consolation bracket and wrestled a better match but lost 2-0 on a second-period escape that he couldn’t make up.

There were six nationally-ranked wrestlers in the 145-pound bracket with Tapia and Taam including No. 1 Victor Voinovich of Brecksville, Ohio. Voinovich pinned three of his four opponents before the semifinals and won the other one by 14-2 major decision.

Reigning Hawaii state 106-pound champion Mason Stefanelli, who transferred from Punahou to the elite Blair Academy, represented Hawaii with two wins in the championship bracket at 113 pounds.

Stefanelli ran out to a four-point lead after two periods to beat Brendan McCroone of Lake Catholic 5-2 in the first round and dominated Richard Treanor of Hough 9-2 in his next match.

The unseeded former Buffanblu lost a heartbreaker in the third round, though, falling on a takedown in overtime to lose to Sean Seefeldt of St. Edward 6-4. It was a particularly tough loss because Stefanelli earned a nearfall in the second period but failed to stick his opponent and was taken down twice in the third, the last with 11 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Stefanelli lost another tough one to lead off the consolation bracket, allowing an escape and takedown in the third period to turn a scoreless duel into a 3-0 loss to Sergio Lemley of Mt. Carmel. There were five nationally ranked wrestlers in Stefanelli’s bracket, but he didn’t get a chance to test himself against any of them.


  1. HiTOWNwrestle December 15, 2019 12:11 pm

    No consolation please, no one placed or did anything significant, they got cracks & ain’t on that level.

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