BY WALTER CHIHARA
WEST MAUI " Youth wrestling here on the West Side continues to flourish with the Napili Surfriders, Lahaina Roughnecks and a new addition this year in the Lahaina Red Raiders club within the Maui Style Wrestling organization.
It all began back in 1993, when Kim Ball rolled out the mats at Napilihau Recreation Center with a handful of bright-eyed youngsters to introduce the West Side youth to this most basic human competition, which has grown shoots and throws into one of the top sports across the nation and most definitely here in Hawaii.
Coach Kim and his staff of Nathan Fleming, Tom Cooper, Shane Cunanan, Jaret Nahooikaika, Chanse Uyeda, Precious and Bubba Jaramillo, Kahi Tihada, Justin Taylor, John Lacuesta, Turner Wyckoff, Connor St. John, Nainoa Steward and Mark Alamon guided the Napili club to another successful season through the six meets of the Maui Style season, which culminated with a team silver medal at the Hawaii AAU State Championships held at Lahaina Civic Center on May 14.
Robyn Rodrigues and Ann Cooper donated time and kitchen resources as the Team Moms for the Surfriders.
The Surfriders had 45 boys and girls involved in their program, which included participation in the AAU event and two camping trips to Hana and Molokai for meets at those locations.
"We had lots of fun this year, and especially with those trips to Hana and Molokai that are always the highlight for the kids and the coaches every year," explained Ball last week.
"The camping trips serve as motivation for the kids to keep with wrestling to get better at it. We want to give the kids something other than winning to be motivated to get better at it."
The Roughnecks club, led by veteran coach Conrad Bolor and Todd Hayase, Neal Nakata, Steve Marugaki, Ashley Hayase, Christian Carbajal, Nathan Inovejas, Reilly Pasion and Jansen Panlasigui-Domingo boasted 60 registered wrestlers this year, and the team finished fifth at the state meet.
Cindy Koyama and Ann Marugaki aided the Roughnecks as the Team Moms, and practices were held at the Lahainaluna Wrestling Room.
King Kamehameha III Elementary School served as the practice site for the West Side's newest entry into the Maui Style program: the Lahaina Red Raiders coached by Terry Shibao. This group had 12 kids participating in their inaugural season.
"With these three clubs here on the West Side, and with the 700 kids that took part in Maui Style Wrestling this year, we're looking forward to an awesome future for the sport," noted Coach Kim.
"There were over 550 competitors at the AAU meet, with over 1,000 supporters and spectators there as well to bring one of the nation's leading one-day amateur wrestling events here.
"This event is our big fundraiser for all three clubs, with Coach Todd, Lindsay and Momi Ball leading on the organizational end for us. It has been a great year for the eighth-graders that will likely move up to the Lahainaluna team next year, so there is a bright future there. We just looked up some statistics and found out that over the years, we've had 32 Maui Interscholastic League champions move on to become state medalists," Ball continued.
"We all have passion for wrestling, and the sport has done a lot for us. And as long as we can help the kids, make a difference in their lives, then we'll keep doing it."