Judo Team Topples Competition at OIA West, OIA

Mikal Reese, Reporter

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     The MHS Judo team has had a successful season. With the season starting in March,

the overall team’s win-tie-lose ratio is 7-1-1 for boys and 8-0-1 for girls, as of the team championship tournament at Moanalua on April 12. Despite matches being played one on one, the players attribute their successes to the encouragement and support of their peers.

    “Everybody is one team, one family and we all have that mental approach and even though that student is playing in a match, they have contributed for someone else,” said team coach Matthew Ogata. “It gets very jam-packed exciting, everyone’s cheering for their team, teams are going against each other, it’s a very exciting atmosphere to be a part of.”

    After being eliminated in the first round at the team championships, the judoka prepared themselves and their teammates to train harder for the rest of the season. “I think the OIA Team Championship really motivated them to work hard for the individual tournaments and hopefully end strong,” said Ogata.

    At the Westerns tournament on April 20, three players made it to first place in their weight class and five players got second place. “It went pretty good until we got to the last match. I lost in the last match. In about 30 seconds. I got suplexed.” said Senior Jevon Olomua, who placed second in his weight class of 285 pounds.

    At the OIA 2019 Judo Championships on April 27, Freshman Erin Hikiji, who is in the 98 weight class, became the OIA champion by beating Precious Tampos, a Moanalua student who was both the defending OIA champion as well as the states champion. She won by a score of ippon, which means one full point and ends the game. “It felt really good. I didn’t expect to win so I surprised myself,” said Hikiji.

    Also winning the title of OIA champion is Freshman Victoriana Kim, who is in the 103 weight class. In the final round she beat Jazmyn Lazo, a Moanalua student, with an ippon score. “We push each other, everybody pushes each other, we give one hundred percent into whatever we do,” said Kim.

    Additionally, Olomua placed second again in this tournament. All of these players moved on to the State Championships as well as Sophomore Alex Napier who placed third, Senior Trinity Oshiro who placed fourth, Junior Micah Misaki, Freshman Jacob Samson, and Senior Kainoa De Santos who placed fifth, Senior Jenna Takano, Sophomore Kimberly Kealoha and Sophomore Blayde Castro who each placed sixth,  and finally Freshman Makena Abe and Sophomore Abcde Gohier who both placed seventh in their respective weight classes.

    As for training, on Mondays they do hard conditioning and every other day they do drills and sparring. They usually start with a jog to warm up. Aside from practicing throws and pins and doing practice matches, they also train their grip ability and their tumbling skills. The team has been practicing since January after conditioning started in December. “If you don’t know how to fall correctly you can’t develop your skills or move on to the next skill set,” said Ogata.

    Some commonly used techniques are uchi mata and o goshi, which are both hip throws, as well as osoto gari, a back throw and ouchi gari, a backwards sweep. “A lot of hip throws are being used in high school judo,” said Ogata.

    Aside from practicing techniques, another thing that made the team successful is having a positive mindset. It’s important not to be discouraged while competing. “The important skills you need for judo is first of all a good attitude and (you) need to have perseverance, discipline, and respect. Among those traits to become a successful judoka,” said Ogata. Hikiji added, “Winning was a really good feeling but meeting many new people and becoming a family was rewarding. I really love this team and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

    The Mililani team’s biggest competitors are Moanalua and Pearl City. The team score for Moanalua is at 10-0-0 for boys and girls, and 9-0-0 for boys and girls for Pearl City. “There are a lot of strong teams in both conferences so it just depends on how we show up on that day,” said Ogata.

    The state championship tournament was on May 4 in the Stan Sheriff Center at UH Manoa.