Remembering 2020’s state wrestling highlights (and lowlight)

Kamehameha’s Paige Respicio celebrated after winning the toughest finals match on the girls side, beating No. 3 pound-for-pound Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp at 138 pounds. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The memory of all exciting sporting events slowly fade.

So perhaps now is a good time to take a moment and reflect on all of the big moments from last weekend’s Texaco/HHSAA Wrestling State Championships before the dimmer switch starts working.

Some incredible performances were turned in at Blaisdell Arena. On the opposite side of the spectrum, something not so nice occurred that should not be easily forgotten.

An incident Friday that resulted in the arrest of a Leilehua wrestler caused all six matches on various wrestling mats to stop. It was an ugly incident that is an unfortunate reality of what happens far too often in high school athletics.

But the incident didn’t ruin the tournament. Kysen Terukina and Nanea Estrella got their fourth state championships, becoming the sixth Hawaii boy and the sixth girl to achieve the feat. They also finished No. 1 in the final Hawaii Prep World pound-for-pound rankings.

Some other memorable moments from Saturday’s final day:

>> Kamehameha’s Paige Respicio‘s voice cracking moments after winning her third state title by topping Baldwin’s Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp 4-1 in the 138-pound final. It happened just as she explained her reason for competing so hard, and that is to honor her dad, Clifford, who coached her as a youngster but who died when she was in middle school.

>> Punahou’s Vincent Terrell‘s bid for a first state title. It was oh-so close in the 145-pound division. Terrell — a star running back in the fall for the Buffanblu — fought back for a slim, triple-overtime win over Leilehua’s Pookela De Santos in the semifinals and then lost 2-1 in quadruple overtime of the final when Mpanalua’s Blaze Sumiye got an escape.

>> Kanai Tapia‘s emphatic takedown of Branden Pagurayan of Kapolei for a 3-2 victory in the 152-pound final. Since Pagurayan started wrestling in high school, he was doing all the downing of opponents and it led to two straight 152-pound state titles. Pagurayan and Tapia, who wrestles for Kamehameha, are both juniors and could meet again next year.

Kaimuki’s Harry Lloyd became the first Bulldog to win a state title in 25 years. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

>> Harry Lloyd‘s rise to his first state championship, at 220 pounds. Lloyd has been near the top for a long time since starting at Damien as a freshman. He finally got it all done, beating Punahou’s John Egami 10-6 in a tight final match.

>> Rafaael Leapaga‘s near upset of Legend Matautia at 285 pounds. Kapolei’s Leapaga ended up losing to Punahou’s Matautia, who is now a two-time state champion, by a thin 3-2 margin. It could have gone either way.

>> Brady Hoshino‘s 1-0 edging of Saint Louis’ Ansen Ursua in the 138-pound final. Defense ruled and the ‘Iolani boy came out on top over Ursua, who won a state crown a year ago at 132 pounds.

>> Emily Paulino‘s rise to state prominence. The Kalani girl had to beat senior Makana Cooper for the 122-pound crown, no easy task. Cooper is from the well-known Cooper family from Pearl City, and she was unable to finish her career with a state title like her brothers Raynald, Blake, Baylen and Makoa.

>> Erin Hikiji‘s taking it full circle. The Mililani wrestler defeated Baldwin’s Liana Ferreira in the 97-pound final for her first state championship. Her dad, Tatsuhiko Hikiji, was the first Hawaii boy to win three state titles. He did it in 1968, ’69 and ’70.

Kamehameha’s Haley Narahara reacted after winning the 112-pound state title to clinch the girls team title for the Warriors. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

>> Haley Narahara‘s 18-3 major-decision win over Ino Terukina of Campbell in the 112-pound class. The victory in the second-to-last girls match of the night gave the Kamehameha’s girls enough points to clinch the team title. Had Terukina won, it would have given the Terukina family (Ben and Darryl and their offspring) a 17th state title. Ino and twin sister Kili Terukina are juniors and can add to the family legacy next year.

>> Leona Toledo‘s late takedown for 225-pound state supremacy. The Hilo wrestler beat the division’s two-time state champion Tangiteina Niutupuivaha of Kahuku 4-2 to do it.


  1. Richie February 26, 2020 10:39 pm

    Thanks for all the coverage. We need to find a way to get the semis televised as well as the all important back side of the brackets where Hope’s and dreams are fulfilled or swept away. Until next year.

  2. Billy Hull February 26, 2020 10:45 pm

    We could have done a better job putting the results out there of the consolations. That was my fault. We will do better on that next year. Appreciate the readership.

  3. CiriticalReader February 27, 2020 3:45 pm

    Bottom line is that Terrell lost, and his behavior afterward made clear why.

    Of course, it’s easier to be a gracious winner than loser. So, who knows how De Santos may have reacted, but Terrell’s behavior was terrible.

  4. Class_Act February 27, 2020 7:43 pm

    Boys match of tournament -152lb
    Tapia vs Paguryan
    Girls match of tournament – 138lb
    Respicio vs Estrella-Beauchamp

    Great display of wrestling and sportsmanship! Both two time state champs showed how to lose with class and grace. Both winners showed how respect and admiration to their opponents!

    Hats off to all four of them

  5. No excuses February 29, 2020 10:09 am

    Didn’t Terrell beat De Santos?

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