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Can Lunas finally step to the top rung of state wrestling?
February 27, 2013 - Robert Collias
The Lahainaluna High School wrestling teams have been preparing for this week's state tournament for the past year — summer tournaments on the Mainland, a dual meet on the beach against some of the best grapplers from Nebraska, convincing wins in the Maui Invitational Wrestling Tournament, a family that could bring home three state titles themselves, a pair of dominating team performances at the MIL championships, and a couple of top seeds for the state tournament.
Lahainaluna has been close to the top before, missing the boys team title in 2005 by 2 1/2 points when defending state-champion Naihe Akoi was denied a spot as an alternate after he was injured for the MIL championships — the MIL representative to the seeding meeting allowed a ninth-place OIA wrestler to slip into the draw in front of Akoi.
The Luna boys have been third in state four seasons in a row, following a runner-up trophy in 2008. The girls were fourth last season.
This season, two state title contenders for the Luna boys did not wrestle at the MILs — and therefore won't be at state — because they were on suspension after an incident on a team trip to Hana.
The entire team missed four days of practice and an MIL tournament two weeks ago as a school investigation was conducted.
Still, with 10 league champions, 13 of 14 weight classes covered, and ILH teams not quite as strong as they have been in the past, the Luna boys appear to have a shot this weekend. Ditto for the girls.
No Neighbor Island team has ever won a state team wrestling crown, so it should be very interesting.
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