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Wrestle MANIA at Leilehua: A record 600 Participants At Officials Tournament; SEE 7 Videos

>> First day boys results can be found by clicking here.
>> First day girls results can be found by clicking here.
>> Be sure to look below to check out seven videos from the first of the two-day event.

Bravo, wrestling people.

The numbers are up. About 600 athletes from around the state are participating in the annual Hawaii Wrestling Officials Association Scholarship Tournament at the Leilehua gym.

That’s a record number, according to host coach Kevin Corbett of the Mules. The top previous tournament turnout was in the  low 500s.

Fans filled up the gym in a big way, too.

The first of two days of “Officials” was held Friday. Matches continue at 9 a.m. Saturday and will run into the evening. Finals start time is unlikely to be before 5 p.m., Corbett said.

Corbett talked about the turnout in light of how COVID-19 took wrestlers away from the mats for most of 2020 and 2021, including the whole ’21 high school season.

“COVID hurt us in a lot of ways, but it helped us in a lot of ways,” he said. “Coaches have learned how to get more people out and interested in the sport. It crushed us as far as that gap in which we weren’t able to bring those younger ones through. We’re trying to make up for the time as far as talent goes, but we (as a state) have good kids. We still have some cream of the crop and some young up-and-comers who are going to be studs.”

On Friday, Bedrock Sports Hawaii caught up with some returning state champions as well as some top contenders. Bedrock also spoke with another wrestler who just finished up his highly successful football season with the Open Division champion Kahuku Red Raiders and is a true varsity wrestler for the first time.

Here’s a sample of what some these athletes talked about:

Evan Kusumoto, Kamehameha Warriors, returning 106-pound state champion, now wrestling at 113:

>> On where he’s at right now: “I’m really happy where I’m at because I trained hard for Freak Show (a tournament in Las Vegas that he won) and a lot of it carried over. I’m definitely in a better spot than I was last year, so I’m just focusing on improving and aiming at being much more dominant this year. I don’t know who’s at 113 now, but I know there’s tough wrestlers everywhere.”


Brayden Mailo, Kahuku Red Raiders, offensive lineman on the football team now wrestling at 285:

>> On winning the Open Division football title: “I just feel like we deserved it the most out of all Hawaii. We worked the hardest. The thing about us is we try to stay as a family and keep that bond. I think we had the best bond of all the teams.”

>> On the upcoming season: “This is like my first time actually competing. Last year, all I did was wrestle exhibition matches because I was too heavy (anywhere from 292 to 320 pounds). But now, I’m going to go as far as I can. I’m 282 now (after fluctuating between 295 and 300 during football).”

>> On his first-round win by fall in 5:30 over Leilehua’s Kadyn Pia-Gibson: “He’s a lot smaller and a lot more conditioned. He was kind of giving me a hard time with the clubs and stuff and he kept on going at it and kind of almost punching me. So I was losing my temper a little bit. My clubs got too hard and became more like punches. I was stronger, he was more conditioned, but I think I wanted it more in the end.”


Mikah Labuanan, Kamehameha-Maui Warriors, returning 126-pound state champion, now wrestling at 132:

>> On where he’s at now: “After states, we kept putting in the work and during that time, I felt like a got a lot better, even that two-week span after states I feel like my improvement really jumped up. We drilled super hard, kept practicing every single day. I’m like 100 times better wrestler now than I was last year at states.

>> On what he thinks he needs to work on: “I think something a lot of people overlook is the mental side. I usually have jitters first match, which is normal for most people. All the work I’ve been putting in, I really want it to pay off, but that first match is going to set me up for everything else, so I really want to work on my first match mentality.

>> On his Warriors team: “I think last year we had around six people and this year we have 16. It’s a lot of new kids which is really great because we gotta build them up and I think with more people in the wrestling room, it’s a lot more fun. We kind of mess around and make fun of each other. It’s just a good environment. I want to compete at the highest level in wrestling and to achieve everything that’s possible, but the thing I really want to do is just inspire others to reach the best of their abilities.”


Tristan Nitta, Mililani Trojans, returning 102-pound state runner-up, wrestling again at 102:

>> On her outlook for this year: “I’m pretty excited. I’m chasing that state title this year. I’m going to keep working hard for it. Always. And stay humble.”

>> On where she’s at now: “I feel better. I think I learned a lot from that match (a 3-2 state final loss to Baldwin’s Liana Ferreira). Even though it was a loss, I still improved. And I just keep getting better (like Kusumoto, she was a Freak Show champion in Las Vegas) from that. I know  the things I need to work on mentally and physically and I think I’ve improved since then. I go into things being more confident and having more trust in myself that I can do this. Positive things.”


Kulika Corpuz, Mililani Trojans, returning 120-pound state runner-up, wrestling again at 120:

>> On his outlook for this year: “I’m thinking about overcoming adversity and coming out on top, state champ. Definitely got to work harder this year and do stuff that I didn’t do last year. Need to train harder and hit the gym more and get my cardio up there.”


Moanalua’s Tyger Taam, the reigning 132-pound state champion, and older brother Boltyn Taam, a former state title winner, got together for a photo on Friday at the Officials tournament.

Coach Corbett also gave some of his thoughts about the season ahead:

>> On that great turnout of wrestlers: “Numbers-wise, we’re seeing across the board in all leagues that it’s up. There’s a lot of teams that are filling lineups that in the past might have 10 to 15 kids overall on the team and now they’re at 40 to 60 kids. I’m happy looking at that. That kind of stuff makes the whole state better and makes my team better.”

>> On what he sees as a highly competitive season ahead: “Everybody is really hungry. Everybody wants to be on the mat. The kids are hungry. The coaches are hungry. In my program alone, I’ve got 95 kids. We’re bringing two buses wherever we go. And we’re young and a lot of teams are young and they might struggle a little big against some of the older, more seasoned teams. There’s a lot of teams up and coming.”

And now for the seven videos:










Four Reigning State Champ Wrestlers Triumph At 52nd Annual Garner Ivey Maui Invitational Tournament


The Season As It Unfolds:

2022-23 Hawaii High School Wrestling Command Center








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