Lunas’ streaks continue
LAHAINA – The Lahainaluna High School wrestling programs have arrived at a destination where individual Maui Interscholastic League titles don’t register celebration dances.
The Lunas simply have bigger things in mind.
Lahainaluna rolled to its ninth consecutive boys MIL team title Friday night in front of a packed house at the Lahaina Civic Center with 10 champions in 14 weight classes – the team’s 258 points were 105.5 better than runner-up Baldwin.
An expected close battle in the girls race turned into a relative runaway for the Lunas, who recorded their fifth straight crown with five champions. The Lahainaluna girls had 141 points, 37 more than Molokai, which had three champions.
The Lunas’ boys earned 12 berths in the state tournament, and the girls claimed 10. Only MIL finalists qualify for the state tournament.
“I got my first goal done right now, being MIL champ, and there’s nothing less that I want to do than be on the top of the podium at states,” said Bubba Jaramillo, the state champion at 140 pounds last season who rolled to the 147-pound title Friday, his second straight MIL individual crown.
Jaramillo knows precisely who is standing in his way for a second state title. After winning his MIL championship match 17-6 over Baldwin’s Keian Inouye, Jaramillo simply shook the necessary hands and walked off the mat.
“His name is Liam Corbett, he wrestles for Radford,” Jaramillo said of his toughest competition at state. “He actually placed in my weight class last year after I beat him in the quarterfinals, 7-3. But he is tough, he ended up placing eighth at nationals in Fargo (N.D.) last summer.”
Jaramillo’s comments came moments before his sister, Carly Jaramillo, took the mat in the 142-pound girls final – she won the match 6-1 over Cendall Manley. The younger Jaramillo will also try to win a second straight state title this week at the Neal Blaisdell Arena on Oahu.
“I would rather watch my sister win than me,” Bubba Jaramillo said. “She looks up to me, I’m her training partner. Every day in practice, I don’t let her slack. I make her give 110 percent because there is no other way than to work your hardest and push it past your limits.”
The Lunas teams were each third in the state last season.
“Our boys team is better than ever – we worked so hard this year,” Bubba Jaramillo said. “We have something special this year, so we are coming hungry – as a matter of fact, starving – for that state title. We are a force to be reckoned with.”
Molokai was looking for its first MIL girls team title.
The Farmers’ Esther and Rizpah Torres-Umi, eighth and ninth among 12 siblings, won the 123- and 127-pound crowns. Molokai’s other individual champion was Karley Kaulili at 107. The Farmers will send eight girls to the state tournament.
“We wanted to make history for our school, so we wanted to keep it close, give another team a chance to win because Lahainaluna’s tough and we just wanted to change it,” said Esther Torres-Umi, a sophomore. “My sister was such a big-time leader for us, she gave us great motivation. We wouldn’t be here today and all of us be in the final without her.”
Rizpah Torres-Umi became the first four-time MIL champion in school history with a 33-second pin of Lahainaluna’s Kaile Kron in the final.
“Lahainaluna definitely gave us some big upsets today, but we never give up,” Rizpah Torres-Umi said. “I still believe in these girls. When we started losing matches (in the finals), it was difficult, but we already did good as a team and I wanted to leave some kind of legacy for these girls to look forward to.”
Lahainaluna began its run to the girls team title with Alexis Encinas’ 6-5 win over King Kekaulike’s Kyla Aruda in the 103 final. Aruda tied the match with a takedown with about 15 seconds left, but Encinas then recorded an escape for the final margin.
“When she tied me I was a little worried, but I really wanted it,” said Encinas, a freshman. “So when I heard time was running out I was really happy. It feels pretty awesome – I wanted to get the team started.”
In a boys match between two state placers from last season, Lahainaluna’s Christian Balagso defeated Josten Saribay 6-1 in the 122 final. They were on a Hawaii team together last summer.
“It’s big,” Balagso said. “We trained together all summer and we’re friends off the mat – we’re like brothers, super close. Once we step on, we turn that off and get serious. This is pretty big for the state. We pretty much know each other, like, we know ourselves almost.”
The MIL’s other state champion last season was Lalelei Mataafa, who won the 220 crown as a freshman and in 21 career high school matches has never gone past the first period – she won her final on Friday over Baldwin’s Tristen Borden with a pin in 24 seconds.
“After I did it my whole freshman year, now it is kind of a goal of mine,” said Mataafa, who improved to 7-0 this season, during which she missed time with injury. “I have to watch out because you always have a target on your back, people who want to take you down.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org