Many eyes are on the boys 152-pound weight class at the Texaco/HHSAA Wrestling State Championships.
The three wrestlers who are in a major quest to take victory there all advanced through to the quarterfinals Friday at Blaisdell Arena.
One of them will not make it to Saturday’s championship match. That’s because top-seeded Kanai Tapia of Kamehameha meets Moanalua’s Boltyn Taam (the 160-pound state titleist from 2019 who moved down to where the action is) in the quarterfinals later today.
Both won their preliminary-round matches Friday. Tapia, a third-place state finisher at 138 a year ago, topped Mililani’s Mieszko Stachowski, and Taam defeated Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Isaiah Villanueva.
If either can make it to the final, Kapolei’s Branden Pagurayan — from the other side of the bracket — could be there as well.
Pagurayan is the current owner of the division, winning it the last two years.
But he is expected to be pushed.
“It’s a tough weight class,” Tapia said. “It’s fun. We’re all good wrestlers and look forward to competing against each other. It’s whoever digs deep and wants it more.”
Added Taam: “It’s probably the toughest bracket out there. It’s whoever has the biggest gas tank, man. We all know what we’re going to do. I need to play my game. Don’t play into theirs and I’ll be fine.”
It took a while for Taam to get going in his match Villanueva, and he tipped his cap to his competitor.
“That was a great warmup match,” he said. “Need those. Don’t want to go into (the next) match cold.”