“I do not like the ASIJ gym and the Kinnick gym; you know something ‘unpredictable’ is about to happen,” responded Coach Yabui, head coach of the St. Mary’s wrestling program on his 10th season, about the destination of the dual meet against ASIJ on Dec. 6. After 2 canceled seasons, the Titan wrestlers got their early Christmas present that they’ve been wishing for a long time: REAL WRESTLING! However, the present wasn’t quite what they wanted: suffering a silver thin margin loss against the Mustangs 30-27.
With 2 “COVID” years and many coaching changes with other programs, all teams now in the process of rebuilding their programs. St. Mary’s and ASIJ are no different; each team having a handful of experienced wrestlers and the remainder being rookies or 2nd year wrestlers. The playing field was leveled, so this loss comes with absolutely no excuses for the young Titan squad. In fact, ASIJ had 3 open weight classes compared to St. Mary’s 2 weights.
The (good) unpredictable: ASIJ did not have their 275lb wrestler and St. Mary’s won all 108lb to 135lb bouts. “We had to win 108lb-129lb, those are our veterans and captains in there, and if we could win 135lb, that would be in a huge favor for us, but it was a toss up,” explained Coach Yabui of his tactics with the dual. St. Mary’s sent sophomore rookie, Nathaniel Twohig, at 135lb to face a senior from ASIJ. While on paper 135lb favored ASIJ, Nathaniel is no ordinary rookie. Only with only several weeks of experience, Nathaniel has demonstrated that he possesses very high wrestling IQ, high athleticism, hunger for improvement, and outstanding work ethic. He has been improving at an extreme rate where sometimes he would even give a hard time against the veteran wrestlers in the room. Although, Nathaniel was almost pinned due to a rookie mistake, he fought off his back quickly and recovered his position. He diligently worked his go behind takedown from the front head lock position. When his opponent put on a desperation headlock towards the end in hopes of closing the point gap, Nathaniel correctly picked up his opponent in the air and threw him on his back for a big 4 point throw to end the match 12-2, technical superiority; a move which he only learned last Saturday.
108lb-129lb: Senior, Jong In Lee, at 108lb bumped up to 115lb. After quickly outscoring his opponent 10-0, he was sent back to get a pin (a bigger team point if successful), and he did what a St. Mary’s veteran should do: got the job done. Perhaps the most exciting and highest level match was at 122lb where captain, Isaac Shane, bumped up a weight class to take on one of the Mustang’s best wrestlers. With the weight difference given up by Isaac, he struggled to finish his signature double legs and single leg attacks and fell behind 0-6 at first. But, Isaac’s conditioning was no match for his opponent who got tired after the first round. From there, it was Isaac’s show. All of his takedowns started to work and he put up point after point on the board to finally come back from a deficit to end the match 14-6. The other captain, Masaya Toyokawa at 129lb showed the crowd what St. Mary’s wrestling is all about. He took full advantage of his opponent’s mistake to throw a beautiful headlock straight into a pinning position. His opponent fought hard for over 1 minute to finally get out of the position. However, Masaya, quickly then took him down with his signature and St. Mary’s signature, fireman’s carry straight to his back again, but this time, the opponent had no fight left to get off his back. With the forfeit win at 108lb, St. Mary’s was ahead 22-5. This was the best case scenario for St. Mary’s and all they needed was to win just one match of the 141lb, 148lb, 158lb, 168lb, or 180lb bouts.
The (bad) unpredictable: ASIJ’s 108lb was able to drop to 101lb the last minute where St. Mary’s was open and St. Mary’s could not win a single match from 141l-180lb . Not only could they not win, they all got pinned. “In a dual, it’s crucial not to get pinned or to pin and it’s crucial to fill up as many weight classes as possible,” commented Coach Yabui on the difference in team points for pins/forfeits with other results, “if you lose you lose, but to lose by decision and lose by pin is a 2 point team difference.” In a wrestling dual meet, 30-27 is as close as a dual can get. It’s a difference of only 1 bout or simply a matter of losing a few bouts by decision rather than pins or winning a few bouts by a tech fall or a pin rather than win by decision. However, Coach Yabui says it was predictably unpredictable, “anything can happen to rookies; they can be up 9 points and get pinned, they can be on the backs but win by pin; it’s unpredictable and I know it is.” 141lb, Jiei Izukune, senior semi-rookie, loves wrestling and perhaps a bit too much on Tuesday. He has been stoked about his match all day long and perhaps it could have worn him out. He could not wrestle his best match, but even if he did, his opponent was the defending Far East champion and the best wrestler at ASIJ. Jiei is a smart and aggressive wrestler but this time, his opponent was too much for him and ended up on his back. It was a tough debut match for Jiei but there is a lot to look forward to for his season. Another senior semi-rookie, 148lb, Taiyo Mitsuoka, is one of the most physically strong wrestlers on the team aside from his sophomore rookie teammate Roman, at 168lb. Taiyo’s strength is in his relentless double legs and unstoppable pop roll from the front headlock position. But, his moves were stopped with the opponent’s inside tie control. And, when Taiyo was under the front head lock position for a failed attack, he forgot the basics and stayed on both knees: a favorable position for the opponent for a pop roll. Taiyo got caught with his best move to be put on his back. Taiyo can wrestle much better and he is more than capable of defeating this opponent. 158lb, sophomore rookie, Shahir Mostafa, has a strong heart and the spirit of a fighter. He simply needs more fine tuned technique. He did his best with the intention to win, but his opponent was more experienced. There is a lot to look forward to for Shahir’s future development. 168lb, Roman Leyko is not the typical St. Mary’s wrestler: he is physical. However, he has yet to learn to control his power. In practice, Roman looks great with his left stance, left fireman’s carry that he can throw people over his head. He drills well with his combinations and set ups. But, like any rookie, all his good technique went out the window on his debut match. He fought hard and well but let his opponent take all the shots and defended with a so-so sprawl to get scored on. He got into positions he is unfamiliar with and eventually got tossed to his back. He will have much better match outcomes if he can simply shoot and attack. Senior rookie, Kosei Yamazaki, went out for the last varsity match of the night as 215lb Matthew Araya, had a forfeit. Kosei went out with a good attitude but simply lacked experience to be able to do much.
“Someone has to win and someone has to lose, that’s wrestling, that’s life,” commented Coach Yabui, “we’ve been in this situation before and it was good to know we are capable of defeating ASIJ and probably other teams as well.” But, there is a difference between “can” win and “will” win. It is now time to work; work harder and smarter for the St. Mary’s 54th wrestling team.
“They wrestled hard. We worked to defend against ASIJ’s par terre (ground) moves and we were successful, so that’s a positive thing,” commented Coach Moshe, also agreeing that his team was more than capable of winning.
After the varsity dual, JV exhibition matches were conducted. The Titan JV wrestlers wrestled hard and definitely initiated more moves than the varsity wrestlers.
St. Mary’s vs ASIJ Kanto League Dual Results:
ASIJ 30 – St. Mary’s 27
101lb Elizabeth Rexrode (ASIJ) win by forfeit
108lb Hugo Miyamoto win by forfeit
115lb Jong In Lee pin Mirabel Lee (ASIJ) 2:24
122lb Isaac Shane defeat Kaisei Smith (ASIJ) 14-6
129lb Masaya Toyokawa pin Gabe Shikama (ASIJ) 2:54
135lb Nathaniel Twohig defeat Leon Miller (ASIJ) 12-2
141lb Bryce Clement (ASIJ) pin Jiei Izukune 1:06
148lb Basil Riger (ASIJ) pin Taiyo Mitsuoka 2:56
158lb James Curtis (ASIJ) pin Shahir Mostafa 0:41
168lb Isreal Rodriguez (ASIJ) pin Roman Leyko 3:31
180lb Harald Hogberg (ASIJ) pin Kosei Yamazaki 0:56
215lb Matthew Araya win by forfeit
Exhibition Match Results:
Hugo Miyamoto defeat Elizabeth Rexrode (ASIJ) 10-0
Toby Wilcox (ASIJ) pin Luke Shane 1:45
Dongwoo Leem pin Joris Van Oudenhoven (ASIJ) 1:53
Toby Saenko (ASIJ) defeat Hiroyuki Sen 15-5
Jo Kaijima pin Hiro Mano (ASIJ) 2:20
Kai Sandoval pin Roan Benner (ASIJ) 1:12
Kabilan Baskaran pin Justin Cokerden (ASIJ) 4:19
Kosei Yamazaki pin Dylan Carreon (ASIJ) 1:58