You should have seen Faith Joy Okubo‘s face.
Teeth clenched, eyes full of passion and concentration.
She was holding on for an ippon by pin in the 154-pound division over Pearl City’s Chanel Hunter to lock up her second OIA judo championship Saturday night at the Leilehua gym.
Okubo is about to wrap up her career as a tenacious Moanalua judoka and wrestler at next Saturday’s state judo tournament, where she has a chance to finally break through at that level.
“I wanted to win so badly,” she said about the run to her second OIA title. “This is amazing. I’m a senior. I wanted to give it my all and give it all to God.”
Na Menehune girls coach Derron Maki raved about Okubo’s commitment to the team.
“Faith Joy is a tough girl,” Maki said. “Day in, day out, she never takes a break. She’s always there hours after practice, always pushing. She never says she can’t do it.
“Her natural weight is 135 pounds, but for the team she plays at 154 and she’s been doing that since last year. She gives up 20 pounds to some of thee girls. She never said, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ ”
Okubo’s intense face while wrapping up Saturday’s win was in stark contrast to a Hawaii Prep World photo that was posted online a few years ago. In that shot, her eyes are lit up and her facial expression is that of surprise after an unexpected victory.
Like a monopoly, Moanalua put 14 of its athletes into the 20 combined boys and girls divisions Saturday. Five of them won.
“We’re lucky to have these kids who are super dedicated to the sport,” said Maki, whose brother Brandon Maki coaches the schools’s boys team.
Na Menehune’s boys and girls are the champions of the OIA this season (the dual-match championship wins over Pearl City in both boys and girls was run previous to Saturday’s individual tourney). Both Moanalua squads are also defending state champions.
“Our athletes listen and train really hard, and over the years, the alumni come back and help the program,” Derron Maki said. “We have a good foundation.
“We give the (athletes) our time and they give it back to us. When we ask them to do something, they do it 110 percent. There’s no days off here. Judo is a priority. Beyond school, it’s all judo with what you are doing in your life. Everything else can come after the season.”
In the 145-pound division, Noah Wusstig, a Moanalua senior, won his third OIA title Saturday — by ippon over Kalani’s Kent Tanji. He’ll be going for his fourth state title next week.
“He’s an international judo player already,” coach Derron Maki said. “Noah has been with the program since before high school. He’s closing out a super special career, trying to go out with a bang and scoop up as many titles as he can. I think he can do it (win states again).”
Wusstig is also a two-time state wrestling champion.
Other Moanalua judoka who won OIA titles Saturday night are:
>> Taylor Arakaki, by hansoku-make over Kalani’s Patricia Pahinag at 115 pounds
>> Rachel Oshita, by hansoku-make over Kalani’s Kyara Tagami at 122 pounds
>> Dayne Takai, by hansoku-make over Kalani’s Jet Okura at 108 pounds
Na Menehune finalists in a losing cause were:
>> Precious Tampos, the defending OIA and state champion at 98 pounds, who lost by ippon to Mililani’s Erin Hikiji
>> Jazmyn Lazo, who lost by ippon to Mililani’s Victoriana Kim at 103 pounds
>> Nicole Shimizu, who lost by ippon to Kapolei’s Hokulani Bautista at 109 pounds
>> Jessica Dixon, who lost by yuko to Kalani’s Emily Paulino
>> Keane Escaba, who won the OIA crown at 108 pounds last year, but lost by shido to Pearl City’s Anakin Mendoza at 114 pounds
>> McCade Ho, who lost by hansoku-make to Kaiser’s Koby Chun at 121 pounds
>> Trigg Salvador, who lost by hansoku-make to Kapolei’s Rodan Salangdron at 145 pounds
>> Blaze Sumiya, who lost by hansoku-make to Kapolei’s Jake Brett at 178 pounds
>> Andrew Adiniwin, who lost by ippon to Kapolei’s Branden Pagurayan 198 pounds
Boys and girls results are below.