The Maui News 2013 MIL Wrestling All-Stars: Lunas trio finds perfection
The best wrestlers from the Maui Interscholastic League are a pair of super siblings and a precocious freshman from powerhouse Lahainaluna High School.
Bubba Jaramillo was voted MIL boys wrestler of the year and sister Kapu Jaramillo is girls co-wrestler of the year along with Lalelei Mataafa.
All three non-seniors capped undefeated seasons by winning state titles last month on Oahu. The Lunas finished third in both the boys and girls team competition at the state meet.
Bubba Jaramillo won at 140 pounds and Kapu Jaramillo at 135, which made them the first siblings to win Hawaii state wrestling titles at the same tournament. Mataafa won at 220 to become the first MIL freshman to claim a state title.
Bubba Jaramillo, a junior, finished 38-0 – the best single-season record ever for an MIL wrestler.
“I just basically had to outwork everyone; do the extra stuff,” he said. “I knew I was going to come out on top.”
Bubba Jaramillo attended a wrestling camp in Spokane, Wash., in July where he went up against some of the best wrestlers in the country.
“I had to step up my game,” said Bubba Jaramillo about his 23-2 record at two Mainland tournaments. “I learned different techniques and moves, and the coaches helped me. I learned how to better defend leg riding.”
Bubba Jaramillo also didn’t play for the league-champion Lunas football team this season because of a lingering shoulder injury suffered on the gridiron during his freshman year. It allowed him to focus on wrestling where he made great strides for the now-eight-time defending MIL champions after failing to qualify for the state tournament his first two years.
“Bubba was a year in the making,” Lahainaluna coach Todd Hayase said. “From our summer camps on the Mainland, Bubba, his confidence developed. He was very confident this whole year. He really matured as a wrestler and as a kid.”
Bubba Jaramillo’s determination had him working hard before practices.
“Every day I ran two miles up and down Lahainaluna hill, then I ran a mile on the track,” said Bubba Jaramillo, who added he had difficulty making weight this season.
He said he’d be “dead” once practice started.
Bubba Jaramillo, who said he has had a 4.0 grade point average on three consecutive report cards, said he would like to continue wrestling in college at either the Air Force Academy or Penn State.
Kapu Jaramillo, a sophomore, finished 23-0.
“I was more serious this year than last year,” she said. “I knew if I pushed myself hard enough I could win a title. My family and teammates, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Kapu Jaramillo also benefitted from traveling to the Mainland during the summer. She and sister Precious, who finished third at 121 during this year’s state tournament, participated in the junior and cadet national championships in Fargo, N.D., in July.
“It improved me a lot,” Kapu Jaramillo said. “Conditioning up there is really intense. It showed me what I’m capable of doing. My technique improved and I saw different styles of wrestling.”
Hayase said Kapu Jaramillo was entered in one of the toughest weight classes at the state tournament. In the final, she beat Mid-Pacific’s Shannon Paaina, who captured a state title at 125 the previous year.
“I didn’t really have confidence and the belief in myself,” Kapu Jaramillo said. “Everyone told me I could do it. I took their word and went for it. I was surprised I won, but I deserved it.”
Mataafa finished the season only 14-0 because of limited opposition in her weight class.
“It was frustrating,” she said. “Every tournament one person would show up for my weight class. I didn’t have much experience going into the state tournament.”
Mataafa also didn’t have many girls to practice with, so she wrestled with some of the Luna boys.
“We throw her in with the boys and she battles with the boys,” Hayase said.
He added Mataafa is a solid candidate to be a four-time state wrestling champion.
Mataafa said she wasn’t surprised she won a state title as a freshman.
“I’ve wrestled since I was 5. I’ve been wrestling longer than these girls, so I knew I could win,” she said.
Mataafa also helps coach young wrestlers with the Lahaina Roughnecks.
“I’m confident to teach kids what I know and help them learn to get better,” she said.
* Kyle Sakamoto is at firstname.lastname@example.org