Try as she might, Konawaena’s Kapoina Bailey couldn’t stand in the way of history at the HHSAA wrestling championships.
A few matches later, Kealakehe’s Roxie Umu also lost a close one, leaving the BIIF without a gold medalist at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
Bailey and Umu were trying to trying to become the first Big Island wrestlers to earn consecutive crowns since Kamehameha’s Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy in 2012.
Instead, the seniors ran into dynasties and settled for silver.
“That’s why they call it wrestling, anything can happen,” Kealakehe coach Ivan Louis.
Bailey fell 4-1 to Leilehua’s Kelani Corbett, who used a late reversal to punctuate her fourth championship, this one at 168 pounds. Corbett, who won her first three titles at 155, is just the fifth Hawaii girl to go 4 for 4.
“We knew what we were up against,” Konawaena coach Walter Watson. “We just wanted to stick to our plan and just wrestle.”
Bailey and Corbett each got to the final by reeling off three pins at the two-day event.
Corbett has said she moved up in class this season to increase her quality of competition.
“Kapoina was up to the challenge,” Watson said. “The one thing I told her was to keep her head up. You did great.”
Umu, the top seed at 184, lost 2-0 to Lahainaluna’s Shannon Jaramillo, who claimed her first title in adding another gold to her ohana’s wrestling dynasty on Maui.
“Tough match, back and forth,” Louis said. “The difference was a reversal in the second round. We just couldn’t get off the bottom.”
The wrestlers had gone 1-1 against each other entering the title match.
Jaramillo was rooted on by sister Carly, a former three-time state champ for the Lunas, and Bubba and Harry Jaramillo are former boys state champs.
A total of 10 BIIF competitors – four apiece from Kealakehe and Kamehameha-Hawaii – advanced to Thursday morning’s semifinals, and for the second consecutive year Bailey and Umu, who also had three pins before losing, were the only ones to reach the finals.
Hilo’s Leona Toledo lost her opening match in the quarterfinals Wednesday, but the second seed battled back to capture bronze. Toledo finished with four consecutive victories, including a 6-1 win against Moanalua’s Natasha Paleaei in the third-place match.
Kealakehe’s Myra Liufau was the only non-BIIF champion to reach the semis. After losing to Toledo in the consolation round, she rebounded to finish fifth.
The Kamehameha-Hawaii girls came out strong on Day 1 in lower divisions with four semifinalists. The Warriors’ Kuuipo Chan lost to Lahainaluna’s Nanea Estrella, a junior who would go on to win her third state crown, but took fourth at 127.
Her twin sister, Kanani Chan, was fifth at 132, Kiki Motta (112) also took fifth and Tehya Caceres wound up sixth at 122 after losing in the semis to Kamehameha-Kapalama’s Ashley Gooman, a senior who won her third state crown.
Also placing on the girls side were Hilo’s Lilliana Campbell (97, fifth), a semifinalist, Hula Kahookaulana (sixth, 127) and Kitana Lowery (138, sixth).
While BIIF wrestlers failed to bring home gold for the first time since 2016, the drought on the boys side extends to 2012 (Paleka-Kennedy and Konawaena’s Sage Aoki).
Kealakehe’s Anthony Gopaul (195) and Kobby Faeldonea (120) reached the semis and finished, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Among Hilo’s Elijah Apao’s four consolation victories was a win via forfeit in the 138 fifth-place match.
Kamehameha-Kapalama swept the team titles. The Hilo girls were ninth, with BIIF champ Kealakehe 13th and Kamehameha-Hawaii. The Waveriders’ BIIF champion boys team was 11th.
The losses by Umu and Bailey leave Waiakea’s Val Busch as the BIIF’s only female to own two titles. Busch won crowns at 130 in 1998-99.
Umu’s legacy is still impressive. The four-time BIIF champion never finished lower than fourth at states, claiming bronze in 2017 at 225, meaning she owns 1-2-3-4 finishes on Oahu.
“I haven’t talked to her yet,” Louis said shortly after the final in a telephone interview. “I’m letting her cool down.”
Bailey added her second state silver – she lost to Keaau’s Ivory Ayers in the 168 final as a sophomore – and she might not be done yet. Bailey could be back on Oahu in a few months to defend he state judo title.
“She’s a busy girl,” Watson said. “Over her career she’s done a lot and learned a lot. I’m just so proud of her.”