‘Iolani’s KJ Pascua likes his end game.
The Raiders wrestler said the way he finishes matches has made the difference in his three close encounters against Pac-Five’s Cole Chandler in the 145-pound class.
“I felt like I kind of wore him out,” Pascua said after his 10-8 overtime win over Chandler on Friday night at the Mid-Pacific gym. “I was able to capitalize by pushing a little more at the end.
“We are pushing it all the way to the end in practice. It’s how much you are willing to push to get the outcome you want.”
Chandler grabbed an 8-7 lead by scoring a takedown with 26 seconds left in regulation before Pascua tied it with an escape just before time ran out.
Early in overtime, Pascua, who placed second in the 138-pound class at the states last year, scored the winning takedown.
“I gave him my leg way too many times throughout the whole match,” said Pascua, who was on the other end of takedowns four times. “I’ve got to work on my stance and movement and use my head and hands to get in his way so he’s on his heels and not attacking.”
In earlier matches this season between the two, Pascua won 1-0 with an escape at the Hawaii Wrestling Officials Association Scholarship Tournament, and with an overtime takedown at the ILH Open at Kamehameha.
They are likely to meet again with a lot on the line.
Chandler, who made the state quarterfinals at 126 a year ago and is a two-time state judo champ, said he was pleased that he pushed the pace harder this time.
“I felt good throughout,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve ever wrestled him.”
Chandler did not hesitate to say, as any wrestler with high aspirations would, “I’m gonna beat him next time.”
Chandler caused an injury timeout, he said, when one of his “pimples popped” — one of the inherent dangers of being a teenaged wrestler.
In the 285-pound division, ‘Iolani’s Dane Yamashiro took a 6-3 decision over Saint Louis’ Makoa Chapa in an exhibition match.
According to Punahou coach Yoshi Honda, a longtime observer of ILH and state wrestling, Yamashiro, a sophomore, is one of two who have “kind of separated themselves” at the top of the league. The other is front-runner Keenan Eldredge, a senior for the Buffanblu.
“I tried keeping the tempo,” Yamashiro said about his match against Chapa. “I was circling and taking angles and making sure I wasn’t moving backwards. He was a strong opponent. I give the coaches credit for my conditioning and that’s why I was able to fight all the way. Wrestling is a tough sport and it’s tough mentally, too.”
In two previous matches against Punahou’s Eldredge, Yamashiro lost by one and four points.
“He (Eldredge) is a three-sport athlete and really strong. And he’s a senior, so he’s going all out. I’ve got to keep on practicing, but it’s always good to wrestle someone like him.”
Yamashiro said it’s important to take the right angles against opponents, especially in the heavyweight division.
“If you don’t do it right, you’re taking on all 285 pounds of him,” he said.
In two boys team matches, ‘Iolani beat Pac-Five 45-22, and Punahou topped Damien 65-3.