PUKALANI - The Lahainaluna High School wrestling teams are ready. Just ask Giovanni Perez and Connor Mowat.
The Lunas' 160- and 215-pounders each pulled out dramatic 6-5 wins in the final moments of their championship matches on Saturday night to lead their boys team to a convincing win in the Garner Ivey Memorial Maui Invitational Tournament at King Kekaulike Gym.
The Lunas boys piled up 264 points, 57 more than runner-up Century (Ore.).
Lahainaluna High School’s Kahikina Tihada topples Kamehameha Hawaii’s Charles Aina on the way to winning the Maui Invitational Tournament 130-pound third-place match Saturday at King Kekaulike.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
In the girls competition, the Lunas girls rode five individual titles to 151 points, 69.5 more than second-place Baldwin.
Perez's victory came in double overtime, on an escape from Iolani's Brandon Lum with 26 seconds left. Perez lost a pair of overtime decisions last season at the state tournament, finishing just out of the medals.
"I have been out of condition all of last year and I just wanted to change that for this year," Perez said. "Conditioning was what stopped me last year. This is just the beginning for all of us."
Mowat broke a 5-5 tie with Mililani's Dayton Furuta with five seconds to go in his 215 match.
"He was tough," Mowat said of Furuta. "All I could picture was Giovanni pulling out his match the way he did."
Mowat said that these kinds of tests will have the Lunas ready to win the Maui Interscholastic League's first state team title.
"I think so," he said. "When it's that close, we know we have to train harder, have to train smarter. I think this team is good enough to win a state title. We have a lot of great wrestlers and we are all working hard."
Lahainaluna is the seven-time defending MIL boys champions, and were third in the state last season.
The Lunas have also won three MIL girls crowns in a row, and took fourth in the state last season.
Mowat was the starting center for the Lahainaluna football team, which was the runner-up in the state Division II tournament last month.
"It makes me want to work harder because we fell short of our football goal," he said. "Getting the first state title for an MIL team would be great in wrestling."
Earlier, Robert Campos put the Lunas on the top step of the championship podium with an 18-10 win over Baldwin's Leroy Santos in the 135 final.
"This tournament was tough, it took me a while to get ready for it," Campos said. "We have been working hard every day. I have just been working as hard as I can to win a tournament like this. Pretty much all I can say is I have to wrestle and wrestle at the same pace I started with."
Campos is full of confidence now.
"Winning this just showed me that I can do really well at states," he said. "If I put my mind to it, I can do pretty much anything I try."
One match later, Bubba Jaramillo won the Lunas' second boys crown with a 7-1 decision over Pearl City's Timothy Rivera at 140.
Danny Welds-Ebanks of Baldwin won the only other title for MIL boys with a pin of Lahainaluna's Tyler Timko in the 189 final.
Lahainaluna swamped the girls competition, with crowns from Diamond Freitas (101), Kaysha Saribay (109), Precious Jaramillo (125), Kapu Jaramillo (135) and Tekau Taamu (140).
"These Luna kids are really, really tough," said assistant coach Shane Cunanan, a four-time NCAA qualifier at Oregon State and West Virginia. "They are pretty athletic and they are a lot of fun, too. The sky is the limit for both teams."
Baldwin's Hailey Namauu (175) and Sydney Ibarra (220) and King Kekaulike's Jenna Mauliola (113) also won titles.
The meet took place without Ivey for the first time in 50 years. The longtime Baldwin coach died last month at 84.
"Oh man, it means so much to me," said Bulla Tuzon, a former state champion for Baldwin and now an assistant coach for the Bears. "When I was a wrestler, coach Ivey was always there. This is the first one he is not here and it's weird first of all. When you think of MIL wrestling, you think of coach Ivey. He has been here from the beginning."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com