PUKALANI - Although the Maui Interscholastic League did not produce a single medal in the state judo championships last season, three Valley Isle judoka are looking for redemption.
Baldwin High School's Jordan Patao, Maui High's Jan Raphael Carino and Kamehameha Maui's Lilia Lorenzo participated in the second MIL judo tournament of the year on Saturday at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym, with each of them hungry to place at the state tournament.
"It was pretty disappointing," said Patao about last season. "My goal is to at least place this year."
Baldwin High School’s Jordan Patao (right) and teammate Keian Inouye compete in a 145-pound match. Patao won the weight class.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
The senior 145-pounder failed to place in his sophomore season as well, but is confident about his chances after training five days a week at the high school and Wailuku Hongwanji Mission.
"I've been training pretty hard this year," said Patao, who won his weight class on Saturday. "Both years I was out after my first two matches, but I'm going to try again this year."
The wait has been even longer for Carino, who has yet to place after three appearances in state competition, but his goal is not simply to place.
"My goal is to finish in first," he said. "That's my plan."
Carino finished at the top of his 121 weight class on Saturday and said he has been training with several coaches on his technique, balance and theory of the sport.
Lorenzo, on the other hand, participated in cross country, paddling and basketball this season and did not have as much time to train for judo as Patao or Carino.
Last year, the sophomore emerged when she won an MIL title after entering the league tournament winless.
Lorenzo is concentrating on winning every match this year.
"I want to go to states again and place," she said.
Lorenzo finished second in her weight class Saturday, behind King Kekaulike's Kapuaalohiokeakua Joy, another state hopeful.
Judo is in its 10th year as an MIL sport, and Baldwin coach Doris Hatano said participation is increasing.
Hatano said she is confident in this year's crop of talent, including Patao.
"He's putting in the time and learning the feel of judo," she said. "I think it'll be a different experience for him this year.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org