Yamaguchi catching up on lost mat time

Pomaikai Yamaguchi moved up a weight class and pinned her friend, Tara Labanon of Damien, in the third period Friday. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Pomaikai Yamaguchi moved up a weight class and pinned her friend, Tara Labanon of Damien, in the third period Friday. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Pomaikai Yamaguchi is trying her hardest to get in the best shape possible.

The Kamehameha wrestler was a third-place finisher in the 125-pound class two years ago as a sophomore, but her junior campaign was wiped out by a knee injury at the Paani Challenge last year.

On Friday at the Mid-Pacific gym in ILH duals, Yamaguchi — who has been wrestling at 132 and 138 this season — moved up to 145 to face Damien’s Tara Labanon. She pinned Labanon in the third period.


“She (Labanon, who weighed in at 142) was a lot heavier than I’m used to,” said Yamaguchi, who weighed in at 136. “She was a lot stronger than girls in 132 and 138. I’m trying to get as much mat time as I can. I missed a lot of training.”

Due to the knee injury, Yamaguchi missed a whole summer’s worth of club wrestling and training, and so she feels like she has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to contend at states.

Both said they could be in better shape.

Matter of factly, when asked what she could have done better, Labanon — who had walked over to chitchat with Yamaguchi about 10 minutes after the match — said, “I was tired, so conditioning. We were both breathing hard.”


Yamaguchi nodded in ascent.

“The top was not working for me,” Yamaguchi said. “I should have stood up more often and tried for more takedowns.”

Yamaguchi, who led 5-0 before the pin, scored early on with a heavy-duty blast double.

Labanon agreed, saying, “That was a great blast double.”


Kamehameha’s Teshya Alo, an Olympic hopeful, was at the Mid-Pacific gym, but did not wrestle. She’s No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings. Her sister, Teniya Alo of ‘Iolani who is No. 3 in the p4p, has not been cleared to wrestle due to a shoulder injury.

‘Iolani’s Brian Pascua, who is No. 3 in the p4p, won his match against Saint Louis’ Sam Scott at 160 with a first-period pin.

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