Kamehameha Maui boys, girls win team titles in MIL Judo News, Sports, Jobs

Bradin Nitahara of Kamehameha Schools Maui defeated Tony Passetti of Maui High in the boys’ 132 final of the MIL Championships at King Kekaulike on Saturday with a wazari victory.MAUI NEWS/MATTHEW THAYER PHOTO

PUKALANI — As he approached the mat for the Maui Interscholastic League Championship game, Bradin Nitahara knew what to expect Saturday at the King Kekaulike High School gym.

Nitahara, a senior at Kamehameha Schools Maui, won the 132-pound championship game, which not only won MIL Gold and a seat at the Atlas Insurance/HHSAA State Championship on May 7, but also helped the Warriors to MIL Team crown.

The Kamehameha Maui boys had 84 points to lead King Kekaulike with 10 points.

“It’s great, I know my class and they’ve done a great job for my school,” Nittahara said. “We help each other in training so we’ll get better, so it’s definitely a team effort.”

It’s been three years since Nitahara won his first MIL title as a freshman in 2019. The last two seasons were wiped out by COVID-19.

Maui High School’s Shaelyn Perreira defeated King Kekaulike’s Krystel Valoroso in Saturday’s Women’s 122 with an ipon victory.

“It feels good because the last time I won a MIL title, there was nobody in my weight class,” Nittahara said. “I didn’t really count that one, so I wanted my senior year to count, and this was my last.”

On a day when only 31 girls and 24 boys competed, the league title was still special for the contestants.

The opportunity presented this year is one that Nitahara cannot pass up.

“I used to do that a lot as a kid, but I kind of stopped, so it’s kind of like I’m coming back to it,” He said. “In the state, I just want to do my best—I know Oahu kids are tough. They have some good people out there, so I’m going to do my best and do what I know.”

Kekaulike king teen Alden Johnson won the 145-pound championship shortly after Nitahara stepped off the mat. He defeated Baldwin’s Casey Carraro in the final — both judo fighters will compete at the Stan Sheriff Center this weekend as two fighters from each weight class in the MIL qualify for the state competition.

Baldwin’s Gabriel Valdez threw Kamehameha Maui’s Kalai Vickers to an ipon victory in their Boys 161 last Saturday.

“It’s hard, Case is really good,” Johnson said he has been practicing the sport at Makawao Hongwanji for 10 years. “It’s great, it feels great. It feels really good and hopefully I can go there (to the states) and win the game.”

In the 178-pound men’s final, Molokai teenager Ekolu Horner fought a tough battle with Kamehameha Maui’s Jasyah Macugay.

“Action, I feel good,” Horner said. “(Macugay) is not bad, I’m having a hard time throwing him.”

Horner is a first-year judo player.

“It’s fun, yes,” Horner said. “I’m looking forward (to the states) and I like to try first. That’s crazy.”

Molokai’s Ara Puaa won a state championship berth with a wazari win over King Kekaulike’s Alyxia Lyons in the Women’s 172 playoffs.

Kamehameha Maui Girls won the team championship with 109 points, 19 points higher than Maui High.

Maui high school freshman Daphne Takahashi beat Hiilei Roman of Kamehameha, Maui, in the 98-pound women’s final to get her ticket to Oahu.

“Fantastic, this is my first year and I’m so proud of myself,” Takahashi said. “I only practiced judo for two months – when I was in elementary school, it didn’t last long.

“As a freshman, I’m proud to make my teammates and coaches proud. I love my competitor – she’s so cute.”

Brenden Hanada, a brown belt, competes as Kamehameha Maui’s predecessor. He completed an impressive MIL campaign at 114 pounds, beating King Kekaulike’s James McCall in the final.

“He was strong, he controlled me a lot, but I managed to take over at the last second,” Flower Field talks about McCall. “It feels great, and it feels good to have only one opponent.”

Hanada is the leader of the MIL Boys Championship.

“Oh, that’s great, I’m sitting in the stands and I’m yelling at my teammates all the time, giving them advice before they get on stage,” Huatian said. “It’s fantastic, it’s such a good team.”

*Robert Collias’ email is rcollias@mauinews.com.

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