The big 3 at 152 pounds advance; Kanai Tapia and Boltyn Taam go at it next

Moanalua's Boltyn Taam handled his first-round match to set up a quarterfinal showdown with No. 1 seed Kania Tapia of Kamehameha. Photo by Jerry Campany/Star-Advertiser.

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.”


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