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State wrestling begins today, can the Lunas do it?
March 2, 2012 - Robert Collias
UPDATE 8:55 p.m.: After first day action, Punahou and Lahainaluna both have 12 wrestlers still battling. The unfortunate part for the Lunas is the numbers game — Punahou has seven semifinalists and five alive on the backside of the bracket, while Lahainaluna has five semfiinalists and seven on the backside. Based on those numbers, Punahou leads with 96 points, while Lahainaluna has 78.5. Kamehameha Kapalama is third with 63 points, but only seven wrestlers who will compete on Saturday and Mililani is fourth with 62 and eight still going. Read all about who advanced for the Lunas and the rest of the MIL in Saturday's paper.
In 2005, the Lahainaluna boys wrestling team fell just 2 1/2 points short of the state team title. The Lunas, without a doubt, would have won that state title if not for a seeding committee decision to allow the ninth-place competitor from the OIA into the 152-pound weight class instead of defending state champion Naihe Akoi.
Akoi was the MIL's first alternate as the fourth-place finisher after he walked onto the mat the league championships with a broken arm and defaulted his first match. With the MIL representation at the seeding committee in flux at the time, the OIA's first alternate made the field instead of Akoi when a spot opened up. Akoi had been cleared by doctors in the two weeks between the MIL meet and the state tournament.
The 2007 Lunas, led by state titles from Travis Okano and Lake Casco in their junior seasons, also brought home the runner-up trophy. Since 2005, the Lunas have not finished outside the top five.
This season may be their best chance since, as I wrote for today's paper. With Punahou possibly piling up five champions and perhaps little else, it will take all 14 Luna qualifiers to get there.
Maui High's Tau Lotulelei is the No. 2 seed at 189 and has a chance to carry on an impressive family legacy.
Here is a rundown of where the MIL champions were seeded, led by Molokai's Mikayla Pico, the league's lone top seed.
And here is the MIL championship story that was done on a football-like deadline because the meet ran about 2 1/2 hours longer than it was scheduled for.
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