Story by: Nick Abramo
Posted with permission, article and pictures, courtesy of Bedrock Sports Hawaii
Anakin Mendoza is a state champion again.
It took three long years, but the Pearl City athlete hit the heights for a second time at the Atlas Insurance/HHSAA Judo State Championships on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The last time he accomplished the feat was the spring of 2019, before anyone knew that the COVID-19 pandemic was soon going to cause disruptions all over the planet for more than two years.
On Saturday, Mendoza captured the 132-pound class in a grindingly difficult final against Roosevelt’s Tyler Kuwabara, the person he lost to in another tight match at the OIA Championships late last month. This time, Mendoza prevailed by ippon at six minutes, 57 seconds (2:57 into overtime).
Pearl City’s Anakin Mendoza is a two-time state judo champion.
Now, Mendoza can look back on his high school career in which he produced bookend state championships. The middle of that career was a fog of COVID-19 disappointments for not only Mendoza, but all of Hawaii’s high school athletes.
“This victory was one of the most meaningful matches to me,” Mendoza said. “He (Kuwabara) is a really tough guy and he competes nationally and everything like that. We’ve played each other since we were little, so it was really tough. I think I wanted it more, especially since that OIA loss. I was hungry and I wanted it back.”
As of today (May 9), there were 2,206 views of the Mendoza-Kuwabara OIA title match on Bedrock Sports Hawaii’s YouTube Channel. Time will tell if their state final dual can get as many or more views.
Mendoza is thinking about attending San Jose State and competing for the Spartans’ judo team.
Pearl City’s Anakin Mendoza, right, prevailed against Roosevelt’s Tyler Kuwabara in the 132 final (above) and got congratulations from a coach (below).
(All action ph0tos by PARISH808 PHOTOGRAPHY).
As a freshman in 2019, Mendoza earned the 114-pound state crown.
Mililani’s Erin Hikiji Is Also A Two-Time State Judo Champion
Mililani’s Erin Hikiji, like Mendoza, returned to the podium for a second 98-pound state title and was deprived by COVID-19 of getting perhaps three or four high school championships.
In Saturday’s title match, Hikiji got the job done quickly, defeating ‘Iolani’s Tehya Romero by ippon in 10 seconds.
At the OIAs in April, Hikiji placed second after forfeiting her finals match so she could go to prom.
“Going to prom was worth it and this is even more fun,” said Hikiji, who is also a two-time state wrestling champion. “This is my last judo tournament ever so it was a good way to end off my career.”
Next wrestling season, Hikiji will compete for the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana.
Kapolei’s Rodstan Salangdron Upends Moanalua’s Karter Nitahara
It took all four minutes of regulation, but Kapolei’s Rodstan Salangdron finally got the best of Moanalua’s Karter Nitahara — by yuko for the 220-pound title.
Salangdron, the OIA champion, didn’t meet up against Nitahara at OIAs because the latter suffered an upset defeat in an earlier round. In the winter, Nitahara finished the season as the 182-pound state wrestling champion and the top-ranked wrestler in Bedrock Sports Hawaii’s pound-for-pound rankings.
“In the beginning, I was scared,” Salangdron said. “I couldn’t really relax because of all this pressure. Finally got him. I just listened to my brothers, Rodman and Rodan (former judoka and wrestlers at Kapolei) in the coaching chairs. They told me to pull more and I did and I got that yuko.”
Hilo’s Lilliane Toledo Breaks Through For First State Championship
Hilo senior Lilliane Toledo did not get the wrestling state title she was striving for in the winter, but she is going out a judo state champion after her victory at 220 p0unds Saturday.
In the final for the title, she topped 225-pound state wrestling champion Jasmine Adiniwin of Moanalua by ippon in 2:23.
Toledo is a two-time wrestling state placer — third this year and fourth in 2020.
“It was a shocker,” Toledo said about becoming a state champion. “I couldn’t have done it without my senseis. All of their efforts to make me a better judoka, I really appreciate it and that’s what made me reach my goal today.”
Toledo, who was the only outer-island champion in the 20 weight classes, plans to wrestle in college and is deciding between going to Western New England, Simpson or Menlo.
‘Iolani’s David Yamashiro Follows In Footsteps Of Brother Dane
‘Iolani’s David Yamashiro went to the podium as the state champion at 285 pounds after making quick work of OIA champion Quinn Bruce of Aiea by ippon in 18 seconds.
David is the brother of Dane Yamashiro, who won judo state titles for the Raiders in 2015 and 2016.
Sumiye And Na Menehune Boys And Girls Teams Go Out In A ‘Blaze’ Of Glory
There was one point in the 178-pound final that Moanalua’s Blaze Sumiye nearly got caught on a throw by ‘Iolani’s Stirling Sakashita.
But, as fate would have it, the takedown was not ruled an ippon and Sumiye went on to capture his first judo state title, finally taking down Sakashita by ippon at 3:39.
Sumiye is a two-time state wrestling champion, winning at 160 pounds this year and at 145 as a sophomore. He also played football as a defensive end for Na Menehune in the fall.
“Honestly, when I was a little kid, I wanted to be a judo state champ and my passion changed to wrestling,” Sumiye said. “And I really took it on and took it personal and I wanted to win wrestling. I figured I’d come out (f0r judo) my senior year and give it a shot and I ended up winning.”
Moanalua’s Blaze Sumiye topped ‘Iolani’s Sterling Sakashita for the 178-pound championship.
Sumiye was one of six individual Moanalua champions on the day, leading Na Menehune to the boys and girls team championships.
The other Moanalua individual titles were won by Kayla Shota (109 pounds), Jessica Dixon (139), Taryn Titcomb (172), Josh Estabilio (108) and Brady Lee (198).
“I appreciate my team so much,” added Sumiye, who, like Hikiji, will wrestle for the University of Providence. “My teammates are so much fun and it’s so enjoyable and I’d like to thank my coaches and my parents who have done so much for me over their whole life.
“I just went out there to have fun and to do what I do. You could probably see it on my face that I was enjoying every single second of it, win, lose or draw. It (the final against Sakashita) was the toughest match of the entire season.”
In the boys final standings, Moanalua scored 86 to surpass second place ‘Iolani (66) and third place Roosevelt (55).
On the girls side, Na Menehune scored 114 points and they were followed by Hilo (50) in second and Punahou (44) in third.
Moanalua swept the combat sports (wrestling and judo) state titles, the first school to do so since Punahou in 2009.
Final team standings are below.
Kapolei’s Darison Garcia-Nakoa Makes The Podium
Not everything is about who places first.
As always, a lot of individuals, including some underdogs, made the grade by becoming state placers.
One great example of that is Kapolei’s Darison Garcia-Nakoa, who was super pumped to finish in sixth place at 285 pounds.
His excitement is evident in the photo below.
Kapolei’s Darison Garcia-Nakoa.
Results Of All The Finals Matches
All of the 20 weight class finals results are below.
>> Boys 108: Josh Estabilio (Moanalua) def. Elisha Lum (Hawaii Baptist Academy), ippon, 4:00
>> Boys 114: Logan Lau (Mid-Pacific) def. Joshua Frias (‘Iolani), ippon, 6:41
>> Boys 121: Brendan Kuwabara (Roosevelt) def. Ryker Shimabukuro (Kapolei), shido
>> Boys 132: Anakin Mendoza (Pearl City) def. Tyler Kuwabara (Roosevelt), ippon, 6:57
>> Boys 145: Josiah Lum (Hawaii Baptist Academy) def. Brayden Morioka (‘Iolani), ippon, 4:00
>> Boys 161: Ayden Coronil (Kamehameha) def. Ryler Puahala (Pearl City), ippon
>> Boys 178: Blaze Sumiye (Moanalua) def. Stirling Sakashita (‘Iolani), ippon, 3:39
>> Boys 198: Brady Lee (Moanalua) def. Kai He (Roosevelt), ippon, 1:34
>> Boys 220: Rodstan Salangdron (Kapolei) def. Karter Nitahara (Moanalua), yuko
>> Boys 285: David Yamashiro (‘Iolani) def. Quinn Bruce (Aiea), ippon, 0:18
>> Girls 98: Erin Hikiji (Mililani) def. Tehya Romero (‘Iolani), ippon, 0:10
>> Girls 103: Tatiana Paragas (Punahou) def. Kelcie Ito (Hawaii Baptist Academy), ippon, 2:38
>> Girls 109: Kayla Shota (Moanalua) def. Elena Shibuya (Waiakea), ippon, 3:52
>> Girls 115: Kelly Ann Ichimura (Punahou) def. Kamaile Yasmumura (Moanalua0), officials decision
>> Girls 122: Dallas Inis (Waipahu) def. Jeylan Arakawa (Kailua), wazari
>> Girls 129: Aliya Takano (Kamehameha) def. Rachel Oshita (Moanalua), wazari
>> Girls 139: Jessica Dixon (Moanalua) def. Irie Sakai (Hilo), ippon, 2:15
>> Girls 154: Zylee Kuikahi (Waipahu) def. Nohi Kuk0nu (Moanalua), ippon, 3:21
>> Girls 172: Taryn Titcomb (Moanalua) def. Kaleikoa Mannering (Kamehameha), ippon, 0:15
>> Girls 220: Lilliane Toledo (Hilo) def. Jasmine Adiniwin (Moanaua), ippon, 2:23