Farmers have shot at first MIL girls title
Molokai High School has not won a Maui Interscholastic League team wrestling title since 1992, when the boys squad accomplished the feat.
Friday night at the Lahaina Civic Center, the Farmers will go after the school’s first MIL girls team crown in the home of four-time defending champion Lahainaluna.
“We are very excited to possibly make history for Molokai High School,” said senior 125-pounder Rizpah Torres-Umi, a team captain who can become the first four-time league champion for the Farmers.
“We have been working so hard, I have been working with the girls individually, getting them mentally and physically prepared. We know we are capable of doing it and we are more than ready to make history for our school.”
Torres-Umi is one of two seniors on the roster, along with the other captain, 105-pounder Karley Kaulili.
“It would mean so much for our island, our school, our team, everybody,” Kaulili said. “It’s a big opportunity.”
The Lunas are led by defending state champions Carly Jaramillo and Lalelei Mataafa.
“The Lunas are a tough team, they have taken the tournament for as long as we can remember,” said Torres-Umi, who plans to continue her wrestling career at Wayland Baptist University in Texas. “They are definitely the team to beat. We have been working on our skills individually and team-wise. We just have to mentally prepare ourselves – we know we can do it.”
Torres-Umi said a team title would be significant for more than just the program.
“It would mean so much to this island,” she said. “It would definitely be good for the girls side because the boys are known as the athletic people. Being that we are women, it would make a big difference in our community, giving girls, hopefully, confidence to achieve more athletically and educationally being that we have to balance both school and sports.”
Kaulili said the team talks about the possibilities daily.
“We want everyone to know what is on the line,” she said.
Molokai coach Randy Manley downplayed that somewhat.
“Well, it’s in the forefront of some of the kids’ minds, for sure,” Manley said. “We have got a couple of senior girls and I think they definitely would like to see that happen.”
The Farmers defeated the Lunas in a dual-meet tournament earlier this month. In December’s Garner Ivey Invitational, Lahainaluna finished second to Waianae, and Mo-lokai took third place.
During MIL round-robin tournaments this season, each team produced more individual champions than the other once, and they had the same number three times.
Last year, the Lunas took the MIL title with 181 points, 50 more than the second-place Farmers.
“It’s been a rivalry for a number of years now, but we haven’t had the numbers up until the last couple of years,” Manley said. “So, it’s a little bit more possible at this point.”
Last season, Molokai was fifth in the state tournament with 91 points, 50 behind third-place Lahainaluna.
“They’re tough,” Lunas coach Todd Hayase said of the Farmers, who will have three No. 1 seeds in Friday’s tournament. “Basically from 117 on up to 140 they are pretty doggone tough.”
Injuries and academics have taken out two starters for the Farmers, but an MIL team title is still the goal.
“It’s possible, definitely, but we’ve got some big things to overcome,” Manley said. “It certainly is possible and we are going to do everything we can to try to achieve that, but we’ve got some tough challenges ahead of us.”
The Lunas have five girls seeded No. 1.
“Our girls are prepared and it is going to be a great battle on Friday,” Hayase said. “Coach Randy and the girls, they have been doing a great job and they are battlers, the Molokai girls. It is going to be fun.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com