WAILUKU - When Lahainaluna High School took the mat before the Maui Interscholastic League wrestling championship finals Saturday night in front of a crowded house at the Baldwin gym, the team filled the entire inbounds circle.
Going into the boys championship matches with 17 finalists in 14 weight classes - the only one they missed was 191 pounds - the Lunas' A wrestlers had wrapped up their seventh straight MIL title, and their B competitors stood a nonscoring second.
In a finals session that began two hours late, the Lunas were even more dominant with eight champions and five runners-up. They will send wrestlers in all 14 weight classes to next week's state championships.
Molokai High School’s Kailen Inouye ties up Lahainaluna’s Nathan Inovejas in the first period on his way to winning the Maui Interscholastic League 137-pound championship match Saturday at the Baldwin gym.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Lahainaluna won the boys title with 250 points, and its B team would have been second with 138.
Baldwin was the official runner-up with 113 points, while King Kekaulike and Maui High tied for third with 96.5 apiece.
Lahainaluna's girls won their third straight crown with 124 points, 27 more than Baldwin. Molokai was third with 92.
It started early for the Lahainaluna boys when Gary Long beat Josten Saribay of King Kekaulike 11-8 in an exciting 110-pound final.
The Lunas won four of the first five finals - Christian Carbajal rolled 13-2 over teammate Jacob Ramirez at 122, B.J. Pagdilao-Bala outlasted Curtis Palmeira of King Kekaulike 3-1 at 127 and Robert Campos pulled out a 9-7 win over Baldwin's Leroy Santos in the 132 final.
"I wanted to start it and set the pace," said Long, a 5-foot-3 junior. "A winning streak, so everyone could get their wins in and encourage the team. I felt like I started things off OK."
There is little doubt the Lunas, who won this season's Maui Invitational and Hawaii Officials tournaments, will be looking for the Neighbor Islands' first boys state title.
"We can, if we set our mind to it," Long said.
Carbajal has not lost since being defeated by defending state champion Cassidy Oshiro of Pac-5 at the Maui Invitational Tournament.
Carbajal and Pagdilao-Bala, a practice partner, had a plan for Saturday night.
"We have been training pretty hard," Carbajal said. "Me and B.J. meet up every once in a while in practice and we bang heads because we are both pretty aggressive. He comes at me because he is super aggressive and I am more of a practitioner. We help each other out.
"We like to come out hard, so we planned on Gary coming out with the win and then me and B.J. would come out with wins so we could just generate more wins."
"We knew we had to come out hard and make a statement," he said.
Two of the more exciting finals went to Molokai grapplers in wins over Lahainaluna opponents - Charisse Manley won her third straight title, 5-2 at 127 pounds over Jina Miyamoto. Manley won the past two at 132.
Manley matched her older brother, Clinton, a three-time state runner-up and an Air Force second lieutenant based in Los Angeles, with her third MIL title. Charisse Manley nailed it down with a takedown with 16 seconds left on the third-period clock.
"It feels so good because I had an injury before this and I wasn't able to wrestle the last two weeks," Manley said. "This is my first matches in three weeks, so it feels that much better. I have bursitis and my knee is, like, fat as anything, but the doctor said I wouldn't do any more damage, so I just had to suck up the pain."
The youngest Manley said she is looking forward to trying to win the family's first state title - she was fourth last season - and the phone call that will take place with her brothers soon. Colton Manley, a three-time state qualifier, is currently attending Azusa Pacific.
"He won't be like my mom, he will probably be, like, 'Good job, this is what you need to work on,' " Charisse Manley said. "Colton is more the emotional one, so he is going to be, like, 'I'm so proud of you, 'Risse.' My mom (Louise) is going to scream.' "
Randy Manley, Molokai's head coach, had a message for his youngest child as she walked off an MIL mat for the final time.
"He said, 'That's how, that's my baby,' " Charisse Manley said with a smile.
Kailen Inouye beat top-seeded Nathan Inovejas of Lahainaluna 7-5 at 137 pounds with a takedown with 11 seconds left in the match. Inovejas took a 5-4 lead with 37 seconds remaining, before Inouye's escape tied the score with about 20 seconds to go.
Inovejas had beaten Inouye in all three of their previous matches this season.
"I just wanted to win so bad, it is my last year," Inouye said. "And I won, but Nate is super tough. I have been telling him all these times that he is my number-one focus. I still took one match at a time.
"Whenever you see a Luna against you, you know it is going to be tough, no question."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com