Moanalua’s Elijah Asuncion, Kapolei’s Branden Pagurayan have tough draws at OIA championships

Branson Magsayo and Elijah Asuncion could have a rematch in the finals of Saturday's OIA championships at Leilehua. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

Two boys going for their third league titles have significant roadblocks in their way.

Kapolei’s Branden Pagurayan and Elijah Asuncion of Moanalua will try to triple up on OIA championships beginning today, and are the top seeds in their respective weight classes.

Pagurayan, a junior on his way to the slam, can meet Moanalua’s Boltyn Taam in the final at 152 pounds. Taam is the reigning OIA king at 160 pounds after taking the ILH title at 145 in 2018 as a sophomore at Saint Louis.

Taam moved down to join the state’s most stacked bracket in years. Last year, he handed his fellow junior a narrow loss but Pagurayan avenged it this year.

Pagurayan is currently No. 3 in Hawaii Prep World’s pound-for-pound rankings and Taam is No. 6. The rankings will be updated after league championships and before states.

Asuncion reached the top of the state in 2018 before faltering at 120 pounds last year. An 8-0 loss to Branson Magsayo stopped his repeat bid.

Magsayo was at Saint Louis then but plies his trade for OIA West champion Waianae this time around and the two met in the Officials final this season when Asuncion avenged his loss with a narrow 3-2 victory.

Asuncion, who can be the third Na Menehune to win three OIA titles, is the top seed at 120 pounds this weekend, with Magsayo in the No. 2 spot and set for a Saturday rematch.

Waianae’s Nicholas Cordeiro is looking to become the first Searider to repeat at OIAs since Jacob Naosusuga and Sheldon Bailey in 2016. He has been largely unchallenged this year but has Kalani’s Brayden Kamimura looming on the other side of the bracket. Kamimura is one of the few guys who has taken Cordeiro the distance this year, losing 8-3 when they met during the regular season.

Weiyi Zheng of Aiea is the top seed at 126 and trying for an OIA repeat but has tough Triston Baron of Roosevelt on his side of the bracket before a suspected finals match between either James Lum of Pearl City or Nanakuli’s Prestiege Kahookele-Himalaya.

Moanalua has the most top seeds with Keane Escaba and Andrew Adiniwin joining Asuncion, while Waianae is the only school with multiples thanks to Daniel Branigan getting the nod at 138.


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