Kerwyn Tokeshi knew all about the history and odds of his Hilo girls judo team going into the BIIF championships.
More often than not, Waiakea has been the best on the mat with the last three BIIF titles. Before that, Kamehameha had a dominant run from 2008 to ’13.
The Vikings had depth and confidence in their favor Saturday at Konawaena and took down Waiakea 80-20 to win their first league crown, pulling off a rare feat with an ippon for each of its wins.
The Warriors didn’t have enough depth to cover all 10 weight classes. They couldn’t fill three divisions, 122 pounds, 139, and 220, and surrendered 30 points.
At 98 pounds, Auie Madiam earned an ippon against Andrea Leung. At 109, Averie Medeiros got an ippon against Tiffany Takiguchi. At 115, Lilliana Campbell scored an ippon against Kiryn Komata. At 154, Kamea Miyasaki pulled an ippon against Brooke Camero, and at 172, Luana Chung-Hulama defeated Natalie Morimoto by ippon.
After the long bus ride home from Kealakekua, Tokeshi had a lot of time to soak in Hilo’s first BIIF championship. It may have rained all day in Hilo, but he felt nothing but sunshine.
“It feels good. I’m so proud of this team. They’ve worked so hard,” he said. “We came close last year. Waiakea has always been the top for boys and girls. It feels good to get one. This team is young, and out of the lineup we’re losing only two seniors (Medeiros and Hula Kahookaulana).”
The best match of the day was between Kahookaulana and Waiakea senior Raelyn Ai-Yoneda. Each is a three-time BIIF champion.
At 129, Ai-Yoneda scored an ippon. She’s a solid tactician, and the BIIF individual championships are right around the corner. But a rematch may not be in the works.
Ai-Yoneda will likely chase her coveted fourth BIIF crown at 122, and Kahookaulana is a better fit at a heavier weight class.
The strategy for team and individual championships are different. Judoka usually compete at the weight they’re most comfortable while the team event’s main purpose is to gain points.
Hilo has 20 girls on the roster, a lot of candidates to cover weight classes. Waiakea didn’t have enough, one reason the team started at a deficit from the start. Judoka are allowed to jump one weight class up, so options help when filling out a lineup.
“The best scenario is to fill all 10 weight classes,” Tokeshi said. “It’s better to have options to put stronger girls in certain weight classes. It’s better when you have options. What you see is what you get.”
Madiam won the BIIF title at 103 last season but dropped down a division, which stretched out the lineup.
Waiakea junior Samantha Yamamoto is likely to follow the path of her sister LiAnn Yamamoto, a four-time BIIF champion. Someone had to take her on, and that fell to Angela Viernes, who was the runner-up at 103 last season.
That allowed Medeiros to battle at 109, where she was third last year behind Yamamoto.
“She came around this season. I’ve seen a big improvement. She went out for wrestling for the first time as a senior, and that helped her confidence and skills, too,” Tokeshi said. “That gave her a little advantage, and she came up clutch.
Tokeshi liked that his rookie Chung-Hulama had a good day, too.
“It’s her first year doing judo,” he said. “She’s a strong wrestler, and she’s tough.”
Now, the Vikings will go chasing another type of glory with the BIIF individual championships on deck. There’s already a good feeling around the Vikings.
“It feels good to bring home the girls BIIF title for Hilo. Hopefully, it’ll be the start of something being that we only lose two seniors,” Tokeshi said. “I think we should do fairly well. I think all 10 girls can qualify for states.”
The top three finishers at the BIIF individual championships qualify for the HHSAA tournament.
BIIF girls team championship
Hilo 80, Waiakea 20
98 pounds: Auie Madiam, Hilo, def. Andrea Leung, 10-0.
103: Samantha Yamamoto, Waiakea, def. Angela Viernes, 10-0.
109: Averie Medeiros, Hilo, def. Tiffany Takiguchi, 10-0.
115: Lilliana Campbell, Hilo, def. Kiryn Komata, 10-0.
122: Ashley Lavarias, Hilo, win by default.
129: Raelyn-Ai Yoneda, Waiakea, def. Hula Kahookaulana, 10-0.
139: Kitana Lowery, Hilo, win by default.
154: Kamea Miyasaki, Hilo, def. Brooke Camero, 10-0.
172: Luana Chung-Hulama, Hilo, def. Natalie Morimoto, 10-0.
220: Leona Toledo, Hilo, win by default.