WAILUKU - Bulla Tuzon has been where Reggie Lo hopes to arrive.
Tuzon is back on Maui as an assistant coach for the Baldwin High School wrestling program and Lo is one of the wrestlers benefiting from the former state champion and three-time NAIA All-American's tutelage.
"It's awesome to be back: Wrestling kind of changed my life, it kept me on a straight path, away from all the trouble I grew up around," said Tuzon, the 2005 160-pound state champion for the Bears who graduated from now-defunct Dana College in Nebraska in 2009. "Giving back to these kids means more than anything to me. Since I have been an athlete, I always wanted to come back and coach and give back to the program and try and maybe turn these kids' lives around, keep them on the right track."
Baldwin’s Reggie Lo gets the advantage on King Kekaulike's Hollis Atkinson during a 120-pound match Saturday at the Bears’ gym. Lo won 14-0 for one of his four victories at the tournament.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Lo is a combined 19-3 at 114 and 120 pounds this season, one year after he qualified for the state tournament. Before that, he sat out a season and a half - a forearm broken for the fourth time in his life ended his freshman season, and shoulder surgery kept him off the mat as a sophomore.
He has three pins in his shoulder and a metal plate in his forearm. The list of all the state medalists in school history adorn the Baldwin wrestling room wall, including Tuzon who would go on to be a college conference wrestler of the year in 2008.
"I want to leave with a bang," said Lo, who also runs track and cross country for the Bears. "No regrets, just make it to states and try to get my name up on that wall."
At Baldwin High School Gym
114 pounds: 1. Keaghan Gomes, Maui High; 2. Gino Konohia, King Kekaulike; 3. Justin Gonzaga, Baldwin.
125-130: 1. Chayce Tancayo, Kamehameha Maui; 2. Polou Nakaneloa, Kamehameha Maui; 3. Shanco Eugenio, Kamehameha Maui; 4. Jonathan Yasa, Baldwin; 5. Michael Corpuz, Molokai; 6. Richard Yasa, Baldwin.
135-140: 1. Thomas Stevenson, Baldwin; 2. Ray Pasalo, King Kekaulike; 3. Rayne Poepoe, Kamehameha Maui; 4. Jacob Lumlums, King Kekaulike.
152-160: 1. Randall Malano, King Kekaulike; 2. Marion Auselys, Maui High; 3. Kalikiano Carson, Maui High.
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MIL DUAL-MEET TOURNAMENT
Baldwin 47, Maui High 22
Molokai-Lanai 39, Baldwin 27
Baldwin 48, King Kekaulike 12
Baldwin 46, Kamehameha Maui 27
King Kekaulike 33, Maui High 30
Maui High 33, Kamehameha Maui 27
Kamehameha Maui 30, King Kekaulike 30, tie
Molokai-Lanai 42, King Kekaulike 30
Baldwin 30, Maui High-King Kekaulike 24
Molokai-Lanai 31, Baldwin 24
Molokai-Lanai 34, Maui High-King Kekaulike 27
Lo has a vice grip on academics - he has a 3.89 cumulative grade-point average and hasn't had a B since his freshman year - and now he wants to finish strong on the mats before he goes to the University of Oregon to study business.
"Reggie Lo, he's a good wrestler all-around, academically and in the wrestling room," Tuzon said. "At the beginning, he kind of had a rocky start, but he adapted, he got better, he listens to coaches, he stays after practice. He is one of those guys that coaches want to see in a wrestler - he's all those good qualities. He does everything we ask and hard work pays off."
Asked about the injury issues Lo has overcome, Tuzon shook his head.
"Coming back from an injury in wrestling is tough because you use your whole body, so coming back like he did really shows his character and the person he is," Tuzon said.
Lo said Tuzon still carries a large presence in the wrestling room.
"He helps out a lot, he stays after practice if we need help," Lo said. "He helps with our conditioning and helps run practice sometimes. Overall, I feel like I have gotten much better because he's here, too."
After a fourth-place league finish last season at 114, Lo has one thing on his mind this year at 120.
"Yeah, no doubt, MIL champ," he said.
Lo, who was 4-0 with three pins on Saturday, said his main competition in the 120-pound weight class is Jansen Panlasigui of seven-time defending MIL champion Lahainaluna.
"I actually kind of wanted to wrestle him, test things," Lo said. "I wrestled him earlier in the season and got the 'W.' The Lunas always get better, so I have to train harder."
The Lunas did not attend Saturday's dual-meet tournament at Baldwin gym because of an administrative decision that was reached after an incident at the tourney in Hana last week, which MIL officials said they could not elaborate on.
League officials also said the Lunas did not practice last week until Friday.
"Everybody knows the Lunas will be ready for the MIL championships," Lo said.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com