‘Rumble at Da Imu’ set for Friday

Lunas, Bears to face off under the lights at Sue Cooley Stadium

LAHAINA — Outdoor wrestling is an idea that has been gaining momentum on the Mainland, but it will reach the Maui Interscholastic League for the first time Friday night.

Baldwin and Lahainaluna high schools will hold boys and girls dual meets at 6:30 p.m. under the lights at Sue Cooley Stadium in an event billed as the “Rumble at Da Imu.”

“It’s been years in the planning and maybe this year it just worked out with the scheduling,” Lahainaluna coach Todd Hayase said. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Wow, this thing should have happened last year when Baldwin, both boys and girls, was pretty stacked.’ “

The Bears are young this season, but coach Malakai Panuve said he will be able to fill all 14 boys weight classes for the rare dual meet.

“We’ve discussed this thing for, I think, the last two years,” Panuve said. “Last year, it was just a thought.”

Nate Williams, the coach at Lahaina Intermediate School, and Kevin Grant, the coach at Iao Intermediate, brought up the idea to the high school coaches.

“They were surfing online, they had some connections on the Mainland, and the idea came up,” Panuve said. “They said, ‘Panuve, hey, you guys should consider this.’ It was communication with the feeder schools, so that’s good.”

Admission is $7 at the door, with no charge for intermediate school wrestlers from Lahaina, Iao, Kamehameha Maui and Kalama. MIL cards are not being accepted.

If it rains, the bouts will be moved inside the Lunas’ gym, but the coaches are aiming for the football field under the lights. The Lahainaluna band will be playing.

Outdoor wrestling is not completely new to Maui — in 2012, a team of Lahaina wrestlers, not representing a school, faced a Nebraska team on Kaanapali Beach.

Hayase said the 106-, 113-, 132- and 220-pound weight classes could be highlights Friday. Alan Sanchez, Cael Yasutake, Ikua Tihada and Kainalu Estrella are among the Lunas’ standouts in the lower weights, while Colby Ravida and Kolby Inouye lead Baldwin — all were medalists at the recent Garner Ivey Invitational.

The Bears’ Benjamin Tokanang won the 220 title at the Ivey, while Lahainaluna’s Kainalu Kaililaau was fifth.

On the girls’ side, Lahainaluna state champion Nanea Estrella could meet Waipuilani Beauchamp in a rematch of their 127 final at the Ivey that Estrella won via pin.

“I tell you what, I left practice early today — the sun’s going down and you see Sue D. Cooley field, and wow,” Hayase said. “It’s just an event, man. What an event it will be. Getting people excited about wrestling, that’s the whole idea.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.