The wrestling season has begun, Kalani prospects look good


Ikaika Nishitomi referees a wrestling match on Mat 3 between wrestlers from Mililani (wearing gold on his left shoulder) and Campbell (wearing orange on his thigh) on Dec. 7 at Kalani High School. In the background, two Mililani coaches yell shots to their school’s wrestler, watching him drive his opponent for a pin. The Kalani Falcons hosted this season’s first wrestling tournament. Thirty-one Falcons participated: 17 junior varsity players and 14 varsity players. For this Round Robin tournament, wrestlers competed in three rounds per match. High schools participating in the competitions take turns hosting the winter sport’s nearly weekly Saturday events. If you’re interested in supporting Kalani’s wrestling team, visit the school’s athletics website for the tournament schedule. Photo & caption by Saara Nicole Chadwick.

Azriel Togle-Wilson, Sports

Kalani High School winter wrestling is back in session, with a handful of freshman moving up from JV to Varsity. 

“I’m excited to see the JV team, and how well they produce and come together as a team,” the Head Coach of the wrestling team, Racer Moody explains. “You never know what you’re going to get with freshmen, you know?”

This year, Kalani wrestling will likely fill out all 14 of the weight classes on both the girls’ and boys’ teams because of all the freshmen trying out. This sets up an advantage for the team. 

Kalani High School has become such a well-respected school in the wrestling community by placing second in the OIA East for approximately 10 years, put simply, this year’s freshmen have a lot to learn about wrestling.

Compared to previous years, mainly because of COVID-19, there is now a significant increase in freshmen trying out for sports. This surge of fresh faces has also made its way into the competitive rings of wrestling. 

A common motive for a lot of freshmen this year is just to simply attempt a new “endeavor.” According to Trent Goshi (9), at least, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“It seemed fun and a good way to stay active,” Goshi explains. “I just wanted to see what it was like.”

Hina Sano (9) has her tryouts soon, too, and was personally convinced to join because of her older siblings and good friends. 

“I’m worried about tryouts since there are many people who want to join wrestling this year,” Sano says. “I’ve never played wrestling before, but I know some basics by watching my older siblings compete. I’m just trying something new.”

With so much of a reputation to live up to, it’s important that student-athletes work hard, luckily, our Kalani students are already two steps ahead.

“Over the summer, we had probably like 20 kids that worked out all summer with us, so that’s exciting,” Coach Racer says. “Shows that they are willing to work hard months before the season even starts, a lot of them even started to attend club wrestling, which is good. That’s another way to get ahead of the competition, so I’m excited about that.”

Some who are dedicated to wrestling, and have been practicing over the summer, will now be moving up to the Varsity level. Coach Racer said he’s excited to see them compete.

“I expect that we will qualify a lot of kids for the state tournament,” Coach Racer explains. “On the girls side, I could see us having a couple state placers. We have one girl who is a returning state placer, she was only a freshman last year so she’s a sophomore this year, so I would like to see her even applying for the state title. For the boys, I would like to see a lot of them qualify for the state tournament so that way they can get some tournament experience. And then setting up for the following year so that we can have a really successful next year.”

Something the new varsity competitors will face is Moanalua High School, a team in their division that Kalani has trailed behind for the past 10 years.

“I get excited to wrestle Moanalua just because they’re always the ones that have been consistently one step ahead of them,” Coach Racer says. “So I’m always excited to wrestle them, it’s a good test, their coach is really good, so I know that when we wrestle them, we are getting their best. They’re going to give us a good match, we have to be ready for it. It gives a good measurement to see where the team can take their next steps too.”

With the new team filling out all 14 weight classes, this season will have some good tournaments.

“Last year, we gave them a run for their money at the IOA East championship, and they eeked us out at the end because they had just a couple more kids that we didn’t fill out weight classes in,” Coach Racer states.

The setup and tryouts for this team seem promising for a good season, Goshi says.

“I’m excited to learn new skills and be able to use those skills at the tournaments,” Sano explains.

Kalani High School has constantly adapted and grown along with its competition. Some fresh faces will be exciting for the team and a good experience overall. 

If you are interested in Kalani High School’s wrestling team, the first pre-season tournament is Saturday, Nov. 26. The regular season competitions start the following week on Saturday, Dec. 3.

“I’d love to see them come together as a wrestling family, as a wrestling team, and become successful in the ring,” Coach Racer says. “I’m excited to be able to wrestle the best kids so that we as a team can all get better. There’s no pride in beating someone that’s not as skilled or not as experienced. So overall, I’m excited to see the growth this season.”