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Lunas lead at MIT, finals tonight at 6

December 10, 2011 - Robert Collias
The highlight of the Maui prep wrestling season happens tonight when the finals of the Maui Invitational Wrestling Tournament take the mats at Lahaina Civic Center.

Lahainaluna leads the boys and girls standings in a limited field — 15 schools, about half of normal — but the girls race is very close. The Lunas have 45 points, defending state champion Punahou has 43 and Baldwin has 42. The Buffanblu showed up at the meet at the last minute — the boys are not here because they have a trip to the Mainland on the docket later this month.

A weight class to watch is 120, where Lahainaluna's Christian Carbajal, state runner-up at 108 pounds last year who should meet Pac-5's Cassidy Oshiro, the state champ at 114 last season, in tonight's finals. For any wrestling fan, this is the night to be at the LCC.

Here is the start to my feature-preview story on Carbajal, a great young man:

LAHAINA - As Christian Carbajal walks around the wrestling room at the Lahainaluna High School gymnasium, he is a small guy who carries a big aura.

The 5-foot-4 Carbajal has developed from a shy freshman who didn't make it to the mat much three years ago because of grade problems to a senior who is a second-year captain of the vaunted Lunas' wrestling program.

The respect he has earned from fellow wrestlers is palpable as they ask him what is going on, what they should be doing and where should they do it as practice commences.

At 120 pounds, Carbajal will be in the weight class to watch today and Saturday in the 44th annual Maui Invitational Tournament at the Lahaina Civic Center. Finals start at 6 p.m. Saturday.

That shy freshman who "didn't really care too much about school" has developed into a state-title contender - he was second in the state at 108 last year and sixth as a sophomore - and a student who had a 3.1 grade-point average last quarter.

He is in line to be the first member of his family of six to attend college, where he plans to wrestle.

"I'm a whole different person now, my grades are better, I study harder," he said prior to practice on Wednesday. "I also work harder on the mat, my technique is looking better. I am just an all-around better person."

Lahainaluna co-head coach Todd Hayase said Carbajal has grown exponentially in all facets.

"Christian has grown into just this incredible individual, just this incredible person," Hayase said. "Not just in wrestling, he has matured in every way. I literally look at him as a coach - with his wrestling, his ability, his technique, his rapport with the kids, his positive relationship, his being a captain. It is just incredible. Academically he has stepped up in all facets and he is just so passionate about wrestling, it is just incredible."

Click here for the rest of the story.


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