As hard as it was to believe last year, this year it is even more remarkable.
Kainalu Estrella of Lahainaluna finished his league season with the first MIL slam since before 1980 last year. Just a year later, something that hadn’t been done in at least 38 years might be accomplished again as Kawehi Gillcoat goes for his fourth MIL crown.
Gillcoat won at 113, 122 and 140 pounds and will likely be at 140 again this year. Like Estrella, Gillcoat hopes the accomplishment will vault him to his first state title.
Estrella had finished third-second-second before breaking through with a win over ‘Iolani’s Kaua Nishigaya last year. Gillcoat has finished sixth-fifth-second but has shared a weight class with Corey Cabanban of Saint Louis early in his career and Moanalua’s Noah Wusstig last year. If he stays at 140, he can expect the biggest challenge from Kaena Desantos of Leilehua and Kamehameha’s Kanaipono Tapia.
Lahainaluna takes its shot at another team title on Saturday at King Kekaulike, trying to defend its title and prove that Baldwin’s performance in 2016 years ago was a fluke. Lahainaluna has won the team title in 12 of the last 13 years.
The Lahainaluna seniors looking to keep the tradition alive are led by Gillcoat, who is No. 8 on Hawaii Prep World’s Pound-for-Pound list, Zeff Dudoit and Ty Bates. Dudoit will be going for his second MIL title while Bates has quietly put together quite a career and will be going for his third. And those are just the seniors.
Jesse Dudoit and Kanoa Lanoza will be going for repeat titles with Kainalu Kalililaau and Elijah Oliveira Kalalau looking to improve upon their showing at Officials. Gillcoat was the only Luna to win his weight class at the season-opening Garner Ivey Tournament.
Baldwin will have to make a lot of things happen to stop the Lahainaluna train from rolling through Maui once again, but they do have lightweight Coby Ravida going for his third league crown. Ravida, No. 6 in the P4P, got a late start to the season because of injury but will be trying to keep the Bears from being shut out for the first time since 2012.
Should Ravida complete the task, he would become the third Baldwin boy to win three MIL titles in the last 20 years, joining Thomas Stevenson in 2016 and Ryan Tuzon in 2005. Others to do it for Baldwin include Todd Hayase (1983), Joe Miller (1990), James Morimoto (1991), Carlton Okamoto (1994), Bobby Morimoto (1995) and Danny Lauer (1997).
Benjamin Tokunang will be going for a repeat for Baldwin. The Bears do have some hope among its youngsters, as Tobey Ravida and Gabriel Valdez won JV championships last week.