December 13, 2023
The Kinnick’s gymnasium was packed with Devil fans and families, commemorating the seniors for the Kinnick Red Devil’s wrestling team for Senior Night and supporting the home team to see if they can take on the defending Far East dual champions, St. Mary’s. The fans got what they came to see as the crowd went wild and chanted as the Red Devils took down the Titans 30-26 for the Kanto league dual meet.
“We can’t afford to get pinned with an incomplete line up and that’s exactly what we gave them,” reflected Coach Yabui on the loss on Wednesday. But, he explained he wasn’t surprised. “We have 30 wrestlers on the team, we have to have 30 guys at practice every day. It doesn’t matter how big or small the team is; the more kids and more frequently kids miss practice, it negatively impacts the level of the team.”
Since the beginning of the season there has been a high rate of absenteeism for practices. As much as wrestling is viewed as an individual sport, coaches know that it’s a team sport. Every day a myriad of techniques are learned and wrestlers experience countless situations which their body and brain learns every day. Missing even 1 day of practice is significant because there’s no way to make up for it and the wrestler falls behind with response time, mat sense, technique and wrestling IQ. When such wrestler comes back to practice, it holds the partner back, which holds the team back. The team is as only good as the weakest wrestler on the team. When wrestlers practice with weak wrestlers, they become weak; only when they train with good and improving wrestlers, they improve. “Good excuses, bad excuses, they all mean the same thing: you missed practice,” Coach Yabui said, quoting the words of his coach, former St. Mary’s coach and US national hall of fame coach, Jon Rhodes.
Titans won 7 matches and Kinnick won 5 matches competed. Titans gave up the 285lb weight class by forfeit, which is automatically 5 team points. Despite winning more matches (which would have been a dual victory in international wrestling rules), most of the victories came with a decision (3 team points) and technical falls (4 team points), whereas all 5 losses were pins (5 team points) for the Devils (as the Far East uses a unique local rule for duals). The Titans were not in the best condition with a bunch of the team and varsity members being sick since last week. But, Coach Yabui explained that it is no excuse as all teams are on the same boat with sicknesses. He further explained, to win as a team in this sport, wrestlers have to make sure they are
on top of their academics, stay healthy, work hard, eat right, and sleep right; wrestlers have to do everything almost flawlessly to have the best shot at winning and even then, luck may play a role in the outcome. Perhaps, this is why wrestling is known as the toughest sport because successful wrestlers must maintain and take care of every aspect of their life on or off the mat every day.
As much as he was disappointed, Coach Yabui is not concerned. “It’s nothing new that we haven’t had a heavyweight since 2012 and that we suffer an early season loss; it’s from here that we make a difference. We’ve done it many times before, and I believe we can do it again,” commented Coach Yabui referring to the Spatola winter intensive wrestling camp next week and 2 weeks of Christmas break practices following the camp.
Former Titans wrestling coach, Ian Harlow, commented “it’s a marathon, it’s a process, and it will happen eventually; we won many Far East tournaments after not winning all the other competitions because we peak when it matters the most.”
“St. Mary’s typically does not have athletic or talented kids; we have disciplined and smart kids. We need to work more than others to build our strongest edge: conditioning and technique. We need more experience than others; and that happens over Christmas break when most other teams are on break,” added Coach Yabui.
Can the Titans once again take revenge at the Far East tournament like last season and many seasons before? It seems it is simply up to the wrestlers to show up to practice to make the difference.
Kinnick 30—St. Mary’s 26
107lb Hugo Miyamoto win by technical superiority over Annika Farin (KIN)
114lb Hiroyuki Sen pin Gavin Caddali (KIN)
121lb Jed Schmitz win by decision over Luke Menard (KIN)
127lb Luke Shane win by technical superiority over Jack Snyder (KIN)
133lb Nathaniel Twohig win by decision over Samuel Tovar (KIN)
139lb Joseph Mauldin (KIN) pin Dongwoo Leem
145lb William Mitchell (KIN) pin Kai Sandoval
152lb Kabilan Baskaran win by technical superiority over Alexander Anglada (KIN)
160lb Avery Murphy (KIN) pin Jotaro Yamaoka
172lb Roman Leyko win by decision over Jacob Gilbrech
189lb Kevin Ramos Kaula (KIN) pin Kei Fujita
215lb Jordan Santiago Ross (KIN pin Jimin Kim
285lb Bobby Crisafulli (KIN) win by forfeit