Paani Challenge provides more mat time for girls


For the third straight year, more than 200 female wrestlers took part in the Punahou Invitational Girls Wrestling Tournament Tuesday at the Buffanblu's Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

The tournament, also known as The Paani Challenge, included wrestlers from 24 schools from six islands and one school from Arizona.

"I think we got some really good turnout again despite several of the schools having to opt out because they are still taking final exams, but overall I think the participation is fabulous and there's good representation from the neighbor islands, as always," tournament vice-chair Natalie Taniguchi said.

Wrestlers were placed into the A, B or C bracket of their respective weight classes - based on experience and ability - with the hope of getting each wrestler quality mat time.

"It's a nice format, they've arranged the bouts well so that if it's a small weight class, they play round-robin so they get more matches, which is a good thing for preseason," Aiea coach Rick Williams said. "Sometimes if you take four kids and you put them in a bracketed-tournament, they're only going to wrestle two times, but in round robin, those same kids are going to get more matches and as a coach, that's what I love. I want to see my kids on the mat and I want to see them on the mat against quality opponents and they're pretty careful to do that."

The experience proved valuable for wrestlers of varying skill levels. Punahou junior Zoe Hernandez is the reigning Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion and was last year's state runner-up at 140 pounds, but still relished the opportunity to compete.

"This is such a unique tournament for us and it just gives us so much more matches, especially for me in the ILH," said Hernandez, who won all three of her bouts to capture the 140-A division. "In my weight division, I'll only have maybe one or two competitors that I'll be wrestling in the whole regular season, so Paani is an opportunity for me to wrestle girls from the OIA and the neighbor islands that I never get to wrestle and I even got to wrestle a girl that came from Arizona and that was a really good experience for me, because I don't really get to travel to the mainland to wrestle."

For Kauai High junior Elizabeth Oshiro, Tuesday's tournament marked her very first wrestling matches. This is the inaugural season that the Kauai Interscholastic Federation has adopted wrestling as a league-sanctioned sport.

"It was great, after my first match I was kind of down because I just lost and I came out in my second match thinking that I can win this one, so that's what I tried to do," said Oshiro, whose only other organized athletic activity on Kauai was jiu-jitsu. "It was different than what I experience in jiu-jitsu. It's more aggressive and I like it, it's fun."

Oshiro had one win and three losses, but came away from the tournament with a stern realization.

"I feel like I have to prepare more, because when I come to tournaments like this, there are people who have been wrestling all their lives or maybe since their freshman year and I only started this year, so I feel like I have to put in more effort in practice and outside of practice to feel like I'm at the same level where they are," Oshiro said.

Still, she is thankful for merely having the chance to compete on the mat and represent her school.

"I like it, because there's always the sports like football and basketball, but wrestling, even girls can do it," Oshiro said. "Girls can even be better than boys. There's over 200 girls here and we're just as tough as (the boys), so it's nice to have the opportunity."

Perhaps the biggest thrill for all invovled came Monday as Olympic bronze medalist, Clarissa Chun, staged a clinic for all participants.

"That was amazing ... I love Clarissa Chun, she's my inspiration in life," Hernandez said. "Getting to meet her and talk to her was so neat and the clinic was three hours, but I honestly don't think it was long enough. She taught us so many good moves and I even tried one of them (Tuesday). She was a super good clinician and she's an amazing wrestler."

Chun is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and competed at both the Beijing and London Olympics.

"Especially when you take somebody who's a hometown girl and an Olympic medalist and then have her teaching kids, they just identify with her," Williams said. "If you bring in a mainland person and have her teach the same thing, it doesn't mean as much. That's a hometown girl and besides that, she teaches like a hometown girl, you know, she's not an in-your-face kind of person, she knows how to relate to the girls, so she's perfect."

Monday's festivities also featured guest speakers Jill Yoshimoto (College and Career Counselor, Farrington High School), Marilyn Moniz-Kahoohanohano (Senior Women's Administrator and Assistant Athletic Director, University of Hawaii), Malia Peters (Director of Scholarship Development and Administration, UH Foundation) and Crissy Gayagas (Retired Colonel and West Point Admissions Coordinator, U.S. Army). There was also a college fair, that included nearly 30 universities, as well as all branches of the military.

"It's not only wrestling, this event is about teaching them some life skills and really getting them to think about life after high school," Taniguchi said. "The girls could go up and ask - in an informal session - anything they wanted to know and I think that proved to be a really, really great part of the event."

Wrestlers return to the mat Friday for the two-day Hawaii Wrestling Officials Association Scholarship Tournament at Leilehua's Paul T. Kobayashi Gymnasium.


97 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Thai Ha Sloan, Punahou
2, Malie Gonsalves, Waianae
3, Likolehua Manuel, Kalaheo
4, Malia Refamonte, Lahainaluna
5, Mercina Hutchison, Campbell
Bracket B
1, Sarah Imai, Punahou
2, Keahi Paasch, Keaau
3, Aileen Umayas, Keaau
4, Shayna Costa, Waianae

101 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Ashley Lawhn, Kalani
2, Rachel Tolentino, Pearl City
3, Kimberly Mesick, Punahou
4, Apple Labuguen, Radford
Bracket B
1, Diamond Freitas, Lahainaluna
2, Brandi Yoshida, Campbell
3, Karina Abella, Radford
4, Kristin Roche, Pearl City

105 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Breanne Takaesu, Pearl City
2, Kaelynn Canyete, Kapolei
3, Ann Marie Andres, Maui
4, Miranda Oda, Punahou
Bracket B
1, Anika Pascual, Lahainaluna
2, Chassidy Paranda, Baldwin
3, Riana Traxler, Radford
4, Asialand Whiting, Campbell
5, Ilysia Sana, Waianae

109 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Sarah Grace Alegria, Pearl City
2, Mahea Kaaihue-Falahee, Lahainaluna
3, Kelly Rivera, Mililani
4, Kailaoe Cabating, Molokai
5, Miki Kubo, Punahou

Bracket B
1, Karley Kaulili, Molokai
2, Kayshya Saribay, Lahainaluna
3, Kayla Aruda, King Kekaulike
4, Harmenie Westbrook, Waianae
5, Alexis Ford, Pearl City
6, Jasmine Hsia, Punahou

113 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Xandria Ford, Pearl City
2, Jenna Mauliola, King Kekaulike
3, Nakia James, Leilehua

Bracket B
1, Norlyn Cabonce, Lanai
2, Alicia Liemsithisak, Campbell
3, Daysha Timbresa-Richardson, Campbell
4, Deja Ramos, Radford
5, Honelynn Yabo, Lahainaluna
6, Elizabeth Oshiro, Kauai

117 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Kayla Guilermo, Castle
2, Tara-Marysa Hirata, Mililani
3, Joen Tominaga, Pearl City

Bracket B
1, Kaylin Castro, Mililani
2, Maria Donley, Kalani
3, Traci Kimi Ige, Lanai
4, Maile Schiller, Kaiser

121 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Asian Lien Evans, Pearl City
2, Alyssa Greenleaf, Kalaheo

Bracket B
1, Erika Takase, Punahou
2, Kayla Lono, Leilehua
3, Jasmine Yanuaria, Leilehua
4, Shalyn Manguil-D'Amore, Keaau

125 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Precious Jaramillo, Lahainaluna
2, Teyshia Kano, Kapolei
3, Rebekah Johnson, Castle
4, Taylor Castro, Pearl City
5, Devin Desha-Vierra, Waianae

Bracket B
1, Sierra Pico, Molokai
2, Angela Ortiz, Kalani
3, Kalai Prothro, Keaau
4, Kaile Kron, Lahainaluna

130 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Angela Lee, Mililani
2, Taylor Rabara, Baldwin
3, Breanna Dudoit-Vasquez, Lahainaluna
4, Ashley Mercado, Leilehua
5t, Savanah Speck, Monument Valley (Ariz.)
5t, Kori Kunioka, Punahou

Bracket B
1, Sydney Cofran, Kapolei
2, Shannon Harvey, Monument Valley (Ariz.)
3, Asia Igafo, Castle
4, Cheyenne Pali-Miller, Keaau
5, Raeana Anguay, Baldwin
6, Alexandria Aquino, Lahainaluna

Bracket C
1, Paula Uatalan, Lanai
2, Persuasion Kawailima, King Kekaulike
3, Melisha Keamo

135 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Carly Jaramillo, Lahainaluna
2, Shayna Boteilho, Baldwin
3, Lhyca Joy Butac, Leilehua
4, Cynarra Sana, Waianae
5, Racheal Holiday, Monument Valley (Ariz.)
6, Kaimiloa Evans, Pearl City

Bracket B
1, Netanya Kang, Pearl City
2, Saydee Makaiwi, Molokai
3, Kawehienalani Camacho, Waianae
4, Selina Del Castillo, Baldwin
5, Chasity Stalcup, Leilehua
6, Nika Tapucol, Kauai

Bracket C
1, Sarah Borovac, Kalaheo
2, Sarah Cordero, Baldwin
3, Alixis Eslava, Kapolei

140 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Zoe Hernandez, Punahou
2, Tekau Taamu, Lahainaluna
3, Karla Peaches, Monument Valley (Ariz.)
4, Khrysten Gameng, Campbell

Bracket B
1, Christine Naihe, Hana
2, Rainbow Fernandez, Lahainaluna
3, Marlan Ramos, Kapolei

155 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Janelle Fuamatu, Pearl City
2, Kari Okubo, Aiea
3, Kanoeala Nakoa, Kaiser
4, Courtney Castillo, Radford
5, Dinora Villalobos, Maui

Bracket B
1, Cendall Manley, Molokai
2, Amber Motooka, Baldwin
3, Ariana Fernandez, Pearl City
4, Leeza Lee-Kiaaina, Waianae
5, Tangi Cook, Waianae
6, Krislyn Briski, Keaau

Bracket C
1, Mary Ann Calamayam, Keaau
2, Kaleiwohiokalani Sataua, Halau Kumana
3, Shiori Leger, Kapaa
4, Abbey Allie, Radford
5, Miranda Trueman, Waianae
6, Autumn Ollice, Radford

175 Pounds

Bracket A
1, Kuuleilani Lankford, Campbell
2, Jocelyn Tabion, Kapolei
3, Hailey Namauu, Baldwin
4, Sheldene Akina, Lahainaluna
5, Courtney Taua, Baldwin

Bracket B
1, Megan Amby, Lanai
2, Solove Naufahu, Waianae
3, Natanya Jones, Radford
4, Stephanie Times, Aiea
5, Sierra Steenburg, Kapolei
6, Keola Dela Cruz, Maui

Bracket C
1, Karina Arroyo-Haro, Lahainaluna
2, Kahealani De Aguair, Keaau
3, Daisy Kalopodes, Kapolei

220 Pounds

1, Sarah Minor, Aiea
2, Heather Thomas, Nanakuli
3, Supiesi Tongi, Maui
4, Sarah Bartley, Kapolei
5, Alyssa Reid, Kapolei
6, Kalehua Zuttermeister, Castle

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

Show your support

Every contribution, no matter the size, will help ScoringLive continue its mission to provide the best and most comprehensive coverage of high school sports in the state of Hawaii and beyond.

Please consider making a contribution today.




Punahou roars past Sierra Pacific to notch first win in Paani Basketball Invitational

The host Buffanblu rallied past the Golden Bears to pick up their first win in their Paani Basketball...

Konawaena claws past Campbell in Paani Basketball Invitational

The Wildcats pulled away in the fourth quarter from the Sabers to remain unbeaten in the 2023 Punahou...

Mules edge Buffanblu in day one of Alegre Invitational

Trystin Stevens was one of three Leilehua players in double figures, as he knocked down four triples...

Failauga got better as Marauders got deeper into playoffs

The 6-foot, 185-pound junior RB registered career-highs of 29 carries for 153 yards and accounted for...

University Lab holds off Campbell to finish 3-0 in Black and Gold Classic

Sabers tied the score early in the fourth, but an 8-0 run that followed push the Jr. Bows ahead for good.

Waipahu reclaims Division I title over reigning champion Konawaena

Marauders avenged a loss to the Wildcats in last year's final to win their second state championship...