WAILUKU - Mark Pillejera had seen enough. James Heron seconded the notion.
After four teammates lost final matches, the pair of Lahainaluna High School seniors - both B wrestlers last season - won the 173- and 191-pound titles, respectively, on Wednesday night in the 43rd annual Maui Invitational Tournament at War Memorial Gym.
The Lunas, five-time defending Maui Interscholastic League champions, rolled to the boys team title with their depth, but Pillejera and Heron put a fitting cap on the evening in front of a crowd of about 500.
King Kekaulike High School’s Jonathan Pico lifts Lahainaluna’s Nathan Pallett in the first period en route to winning the 162-pound championship at the Maui Invitational Tournament on Wednesday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Lahainaluna High School’s Makana Hussey tries to bring down Mililani’s Dakota Truitt on her way to winning the 142-pound title at the Maui Invitational Tournament on Wednesday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Molokai’s Charisse Manley controls Maui High’s Samantha Morris en route to winning the 132-pound championship.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"When I went out there I just thought, 'Just wrestle as well, as hard as I can,' " Pillejera said after pinning Carlton Pukahi of Kahuku in 3 minutes, 1 second. "It felt good. I got lucky, I had two byes in the beginning and then I had two matches after that, but those two matches I pinned two people, too, so I just thought I would leave it all out there on this match."
Pillejera is a boarder from Lanai City and he knows that even after a title in a tournament like this - there were 300-plus wrestlers in the event - a lot of work is still on the table until the state tournament rolls around in February.
"I have a lot of confidence right now from this, but there is still a lot of stuff to work on," he said.
Maui Invitational Tournament
At War Memorial Gym
Team standings-Lahainaluna 203, Iolani 160, Pac-5 142.5, Kahuku 107, Baldwin 102, Molokai 100.5, Maui High 97, King Kekaulike 78.5, Voznesenka, Alaska 62, Damien 56, Lanai 47, Mililani 46, Kamehameha Hawaii 41, St. Thomas More (British Columbia) 29, Kamehameha Maui 22.5, Kaiser 22, Waiakea 21.5, Keaau 15, Konawaena 14, Hawaii
110-Josh Terao, Pac-5, def. Eleomar Cabbat, Baldwin, 6-2.
116-Cassidy Oshiro, Pac-5, def. Logan Yamamoto, Iolani, 8-4.
122-Ryan Nakagawa, Kaiser, def. Nalu Kekona-Souza, Kamehameha Hawaii, 4-3.
127-David Terao, Pac-5, def. Kelvin Cruz, Lahainaluna, 17-2.
132-Holden Takahashi, Iolani, pinned Robert Kim, Mililani, 5:34.
137-Simon Blair, Molokai, pinned Chase Tantog, Mililani, 4:34.
142-Shayvis Wilson, Damien, def. Joe Martishev, Voznesenka, Alaska, 5-3.
147-Ian Akamine, Iolani, def. Chanse Uyeda, Lahainaluna, 8-3.
154-Zenon Martishev, Voznesenka, Alaska, def. Nalu Scott, Lahainaluna, 9-5.
162-Jonathan Pico, King Kekaulike, def. Nathan Pallett, Lahainaluna, 19-4.
173-Mark Pillejera, Lahainaluna, pinned Carlton Pukahi, Kahuku, 3:01.
191-James Heron, Lahainaluna, def. Totauhe Lotulelei, Maui High, 8-6 (OT).
217-Jheryl Makaiau, Kahuku, pinned Ryo Chow, Iolani, 2:49.
287-Jordan Hao, Molokai, def. Tyman Hayashi, Pac-5, 7-1.
Fastest Pin: Jonathan Pico, King Kekaulike, 5 seconds; Most points for team: Holden Takahashi, Iolani, 31; Most pins (quickest): Zenon Martushev, Voznesenka, Alaska, 3 in 1:38; Most outstanding (142-below): David Terao, Pac-5; Most outstanding (147-above): Ian Akamine, Iolani.
Team standings-Kahuku 110, Mililani 92, Lahainaluna 86, Molokai 84, Pac-5 74, Maui High 49, Baldwin 46, Kamehameha Maui 45, Iolani 42, Lanai 35, St. Thomas More (British Columbia) 33, Kailua 25, Kamehameha Hawaii 21.5, Konawaena 16, King Kekaulike 6.
100-Allene Somera, Kailua, def. Megan Aina, Kamehameha Schools-Big Island, 4-1.
105-Nikki Davis, Kamehameha Schools Maui, def. Aarica Barcina, Kahuku, 9-1.
110-Quinn Nagatani, Pac-5, pinned Selena Ryder, Mililani, 1:22.
116-Kristy Rabaino, Kahuku, pinned Aryanna Ebrahimzadeh, St. Thomas More, British Columbia, 1:05.
122-Kaela Shiigi, Iolani, pinned Michal Torres-Umi, Molokai, 3:46.
127-Morgan Yamaguchi, Mililani, def. Shannon Paaaina, Pac-5, 8-1.
132-Charisse Manley, Molokai, pinned Samantha Morris, Maui High, 4:19.
142-Makana Hussey, Lahainaluna, def. Dakota Truitt, Mililani, 1:12.
157-Anela Santiago, Kahuku, pinned Haylie Namauu, Baldwin, 1:03.
177-Joreece Peapealalo, Kahuku, pinned Courtney Taua, Baldwin, 3:24.
222-Gina-Bella Mataafa, Lahainaluna, def. Libby Petrie, Kahuku, 4-3.
Fastest pin: Quinn Nagatani, Pac-5, 16 seconds; Most points for team: Nikki Davis, Kamehameha Maui, 27; Most pins (quickest): Kazia Lecker, Lahainaluna, 3 in 47 seconds; Most outstanding (122-below): Allene Somera, Kailua; Most outstanding (127-above): Charisse Malney, Molokai.
The first title for the Luna boys certainly seemed to inspire Heron in what was the match of the night. He scored a takedown at the buzzer - the two referees discussed the decision before awarding the points - to tie Maui High's Totauhe Lotulelei at 6-6 and then Heron pulled out the win in sudden-death overtime with a takedown 18 seconds in.
"I was pretty worried, I didn't know what to do," Heron said. "I just kept looking at the clock. I knew I had to get the takedown as soon as possible, so I just went for it, nothing to lose."
Heron had watched teammates Kelvin Cruz (127 pounds), Chanse Uyeda (147), Nalu Scott (154) and Nathan Pallett (162) all drop decisions in the finals before Pillejera came to the mat.
"I'm bummed all my teammates didn't win - hopefully I would be the first one - but Mark got it done so I am glad for our team," Heron said. "It felt pretty good. I got fifth at the officials tournament (last weekend) and that felt good and then to win out here, it gives me confidence."
The 191 final - all the weight classes were given a two-pound allowance for this tournament - could be a recurring theme all season.
"I will be facing him all year, so we will be battling it pretty good," Heron said.
The Luna boys placed 10 wrestlers in the top three of their weight classes and 17 walked away with medals as they easily won the team crown. Lahainaluna's 203 points were 43 more than Iolani, while Pac-5 (142.5) was third, Kahuku (107) fourth, Baldwin (102) fifth, Molokai (100.5) sixth and host Maui High (97) seventh.
"All of our finalists had tough matches," Lahainaluna coach Todd Hayase said. "You are talking about defending state champs, so we expected that. It is preseason, this definitely was not the Officials Tournament, it was a lot smaller, more younger wrestlers. But, yeah, we are happy for (Pillejera and Heron). We're proud."
Hayase was quick to add there is a long road between this event and the state tournament.
"Winning ugly is better than losing ugly, but it is still ugly and we have got a lot to work on," he said.
"I'm talking from our A wrestlers on down. I don't know who is going to step up on this team, but somebody is going to have to because every weight class is pretty much up for grabs at this point on our roster."
The other MIL boys champions were Molokai's Simon Blair at 137 and Jordan Hao at 287, and King Kekaulike's Jonathan Pico at 160.
Blair pinned Mililani's Chase Tantog at the 4:34 mark after trailing 5-4.
"I could tell that he was worn out so I just went hard at him," Blair said.
"It feels great, it feels like everything I wanted. It is not how you start, it is how you finish, so I just got to keep working hard and do good at states."
Pico recorded the fastest pin in the tournament, five seconds, in his first-round win. His quarterfinal pin came in 23 seconds and his semifinal on Wednesday took just 3:52 before the official's hand hit the mat. His final win was a technical fall, 19-4 over Pallett.
Pico has been working under King Kekaulike coach Grant Nakamura, a former Baldwin state champion and three-time NCAA qualifier for Iowa State.
"I boosted my confidence a lot," Pico said. "I mean, I have always had confidence issues and Grant has been helping with that a lot. It is helping me a lot that I could come in here and get my moves as easily as I could. To see that I can do the things (Nakamura) says I can do is a big confidence booster."
On the girls side, the MIL won four titles - Kamehameha Maui's Nikki Davis at 105, Molokai's Charisse Manley at 132, and Lahainaluna's Makana Hussey at 142 and Gina-Bella Mataafa at 222.
Kahuku overtook first-day leader Lahainaluna in the girls team standings on the strength of three champions and two runners-up. The Red Raiders finished with 110 points to best Mililani (92) and the Lunas (86). Molokai (84) was a close fourth.
Manley's title was No. 4 for the family of Farmers head coach Randy Manley. Clinton Manley, currently a senior at the Air Force Academy and a three-time state runner-up, won one MIT crown and Colton Manley, a freshman at Azusa Pacific, won two. Charisse Manley was named the most outstanding wrestler among girls 127 pounds and over - Colton also was a recipient of the award.
"It feels really good, I have been working really hard at practice," Charisse Manley said. "I finished third at Punahou (tournament), so I wanted to improve and I tried to improve on my mistakes and I just felt rewarded."
Matching her big brothers was a bonus.
"They are actually home right now - when I go home I am going to be, like, happy, yeah," Charisse Manley said. "Clinton will probably say, 'Good job.' He is not going to praise me too much Colton will be, like, 'I'm proud of you. Good job, you are following in the family footsteps.' "
The other outstanding wrestler awards went to Pac-5's David Terao for boys 142 and under, Iolani's Ian Akamine for boys 147 and above and Kailua's Allene Somera for girls 122 and under.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com