King Kekaulike takes team championships
Entering her final season of high school judo, King Kekaulike’s Kalai Joy had one goal on her mind: Go undefeated in the Maui Interscholastic League.
The senior accomplished that mission Saturday and captured the 103-pound title – the first of her career.
“It feels really good because I got second last year,” said Joy, the runner-up at 109 in 2013.
“Last year, I wasn’t as serious, it was kind of mellow,” she said. “But I wanted to go to state (competition) and hopefully place so I’ve been training and took a lot of classes.”
Joy has four brothers and sisters, all of whom train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Joy’s twin sister, Kapuaalohiokeakua Joy, won an MIL title at 115 in 2012, but was sidelined her final year due to a back injury from cheerleading.
Kalai Joy’s younger brother, Aukai Joy, also took home a gold medal Saturday, winning the 132 weight class.
In his first season of judo, Aukai Joy said the recent death of his grandfather helped motivate him in the final matches.
“I just thought about the last time I seen him in his bed and getting more amped up,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to win for him.’ “
The brother-sister tandem helped King Kekaulike capture both team titles. Na Alii’s girls team scored 128 points, three better than Maui High, and the boys had 127 – Baldwin was second with 88.
King Kekaulike’s Hollis Atkinson also completed an undefeated MIL season and repeated as champion at 121.
Atkinson had only competed in two tournaments before Saturday and was down a point early in the title match against John Hoopii of Baldwin.
“He caught me,” Atkinson said. “I was listening to my coach and he was saying make an opening for myself.”
Atkinson delivered back-to-back throws to come up with the victory.
“It was a good match, he’s always a tough competitor. No matter what, he always gives his all,” Atkinson said of Hoopii.
Maui High’s Chelsey Chaves won the 98-pound championship to wrap up an unbeaten league season.
Ne’ula Aarona of Kamehameha Maui won a third league crown, taking first place at 154 with a victory over Maui High’s Ashley Morris.
“She beat me once so I came in here and didn’t expect anything,” Aarona said. “I just knew that I had to work because the last match between the two of us went the whole four minutes and into the golden score. She beat me by a point.”
In the finals, Aarona scored an ippon on a throw for the decisive points.
King Kekaulike’s Deedra Fabella beat previously undefeated teammate Jamie Hoe for the 139 title.
“She made one mistake and I countered on it,” Fabella said. “But we both did our best and props to her for giving me a long run.”
* Chris Sugidono is at email@example.com