After using wrestling as a refuge, Lahainaluna’s Alicia Frank is one victory away from joining her school’s long list of state champions.
Frank, a two-time MIL champion, beat Campbell’s Kili Terukina 8-6 in the final seconds of her semifinal match at 117 pounds to reach her first final. She finished fifth in the tournament last year and had more than her share of adversity to begin the season.
“I started rough,” Frank said. “I was going through personal issues and I don’t know, the mat just got me away from all of it. I just got way better.”
Frank’s improvement showed itself in her win over Terukina, an unseeded but heralded rival who faced her at the Officials tournament. Frank fell behind early in Saturday’s semifinal but rallied late in the third period and scored the telling points as the clock struck zero. Well-wishers in Lunas red fell over themselves trying to get to her to receive a hug from the new state finalist.
“I had a lot of confidence going into the match,” Frank said. “But I was down by a lot and I could just hear my coach in the back saying ‘get up’ so I tried and I don’t want to say I got lucky but I know how to use my body to my ability and I put her on her back and then needed an escape or go into overtime.”
Frank was watching the clock run down on her state championship hopes but kept the hope alive in the span of a few seconds. It was a world of difference from last year when she was pinned in her opening match despite holding her league’s seeded berth.
“I look at the clock a lot,” Frank said. “But the time seems a lot faster during the match than it really is, so i was kinda scared. It means a lot placing fifth last year and now to be in the finals it is a real confidence booster and it helps me feel that I am a lot better than I thought I was.”
Frank will need all of the confidence she can muster to reach the top of the podium for the first time. She takes on Mililani’s Victoria Lee, the OIA champion and top seed who advanced with a quick pin, an injury during a quarterfinal match and a forfeit into the final. Given Frank’s improvement, she has a real shot to hang with the Trojan. Lee beat Frank 10-3 at Officials but that is a far closer distance than the pin in 59 seconds Lee dealt Frank in the consolation round of last year’s state tournament.
“It’s okay,” Frank said of the rematch. “One, it’s a learning experience and Two: Anything can happen. I just learned that in my previous match, anything can happen.”
The match will be the last one for girls of the evening, making it a main event of sorts and giving both athletes an eternity to wrestle with their minds. Lee’s style is one of constant aggression and limitless energy, and Frank describes herself the same way so it should be a war for as long — or short — as it lasts.
So does that mean the match will feature two girls attacking and never relenting?
“Yes, it does,” Frank said.