December 10, 2022
Just 4 days ago, Titans suffered a loss against the ASIJ Mustangs, marking the second consecutive dual loss against them (the last time they wrestled was at the Far East dual tournament right before the pandemic). On Saturday, St. Mary’s showed a dominating performance against ASIJ at the Zama Dual Meet Tournament; defeating them 40-20. “A dual loss of 30-27 [4 days ago] is really, really close, but a victory by a 20 point margin is quite a domination,” commented Coach Yabui. Out of 9 matches contested, Titan wrestlers pinned 6 opponents to add on to their 2 forfeit victories; revenging their loss from 4 days ago when all 5 wrestlers from 141lb and up got pinned for an upsetting victory for the Mustangs.
“When a team beats you 4 days ago and you beat them 4 days later, it’s not a matter of improved technique or tactics as the time is too short to change that; it’s simply a matter of attitude and mentality. Our wrestlers wanted to win more and believed in their skills,” explained Coach Yabui. One of the common issues each year with the Titan wrestlers is the lack of confidence and being intimidated by other opponents despite the fact that they have better skills. Coach Yabui explained that no matter how good a wrestlers’ technique is, if they don’t believe they are good and actually try the moves in a match, they can’t win. The longer it takes for wrestlers to realize this, the longer it will take them to win. It seemed that many wrestlers on Saturday began to believe.
Before defeating ASIJ, St. Mary’s also defeated Kinnick 31-24; giving them a confidence boost for their Kanto league dual against Kinnick coming up on Dec. 14. St. Mary’s was in a pool round with ASIJ and Kinnick, whiled the division II teams were in another pool between Zama, Edgren, and CAJ. St. Mary’s finished #1 in their pool to face CAJ who also came out on top from the other pool. St. Mary’s crushed CAJ 49-5 in the finals of the Zama Dual Meet Tournament; marking St. Mary’s to win the first tournament title in the league since the COVID pandemic canceled 2 seasons.
Senior, Jong In Lee, has had no real competition yet as he cruised through the day with 2 pins against Kinnick and ASIJ and a forfeit win against CAJ. There aren’t a lot of 108lb wrestlers in the league at this point but whoever has faced Jong In so far simply is no match for his superior technique and aggressiveness. Without a 101lb wrestler now, Jong In is the ultimate dual starter who has been nothing but consistent and rarely makes any mistakes. Hugo Miyamoto currently is the backup for 108lb but an important member of the dual line up when Jong In bumps up to 115lb. Hugo has been working hard in the room and being trained by the best wrestlers in the room. He simply needs more experience in matches to become better. So far he has been showing good progress and it would be exciting to watch him compete whether at 101lb or 108lb.
Captain, Isaac Shane, at 115lb showed dominant performance throughout the day. His double leg and single leg takedowns are simply unstoppable against all his oppositions on Saturday. He quickly teched (won by a 10 point margin) his Kinnick opponent by blasting through with his signature double leg takedown twice. His acceleration and timing is so great that his opponent flew through the air straight to his back. On his second takedown, he quickly transitioned into the leg lace (which has become the signature ground move for St. Mary’s over the last decade) to turn over his opponent multiple times. In his rematch against the ASIJ opponent at 122lb (Isaac bumped up a weight class) who he beat 14-6 coming from behind, Isaac did exactly what the team needed and secured a pin after some battle. His opponent, who is much heavier than Isaac, showed good effort, taking Isaac down on a few occasions. They had a good wrestling exchange for a few minutes, but finally, like 4 days ago, his opponent gassed out. And, this time, Isaac took full advantage of this to take him down with a single leg straight into a pin. Isaac’s last match against CAJ took less than 10 seconds to secure a pin.
Rookie, Luke Shane, at 122lb had a rough day. He has been showing great improvement this season. In his one and only dual match against Kinnick, Luke did a good job hand fighting to secure his inside tie for his attacks but his opponent also fought to secure and inside tie. When Luke attacked, he could not get a good set up due to his opponent’s good hand fighting techniques, and his shots became too far and to square with his opponent only to be sprawled on. Luke lost valuable points from his shots. Luke has shots that can create angles (rather than square) like his high crotch and fireman’s carry. For a longer and physically stronger opponent, these tactics would work better. Luke trains hard and has great ambitions to becoming a better wrestlers; it is only a matter of time until he begins to dominate his opponents.
129lb captain, Masaya Toyokawa, is entertainment for every spectator and coach in the gym; often causing people to go “wow” with his refined and fine-tuned technique which are a beauty to watch. He went 3-0 on Saturday, winning with 2 technical falls (a difference of 10 points) and 1 pin. It was like trying to stop a freight train coming in full speed for all of his opponents. In his match against Kinnick, Masaya quickly secured his inside tie to set up his signature fireman’s carry to take his opponent down for 4 points only to quickly transition into a leg lace to finish off the match 10-0 in less than a minute. With his match against ASIJ, Masaya tried to secure a pin for the bigger team point and tried a well timed headlock but slipped out. What looked like no points for his opponent for a slip, the refs awarded ASIJ 2 points. But, Masaya did not panic. He simply changed tactics to hit a slick sweep single but with a ,non-typical finish: picking his opponent up in the air for a big 4 point slam straight into a pin. In his last match against CAJ, it was the “Masaya Buffet,” showing off his fireman’s carry, leg lace, single leg and superior positioning and hand fighting to secure his win by technical fall.
“Isaac and Masaya did a great job leading everyone by dominating their opponents and giving momentum. I’m very happy with how the wrestlers wrestled today,” commented Coach Matsumoto, former Titans wrestler, captain of the 2018 team and Kanto Plain champion. Coach Moshe Grimberg agreed, “captains’ wins gave the team motivation and now they believe in themselves; they all wrestled much better than last Tuesday with more confidence.”
Super rookie, Nathaniel Twohig, remains super. He finished his second competition opportunity with 2 wins and 1 forfeit victory. In his rematch against the ASIJ senior who he defeated by technical fall last Tuesday, Nathaniel this time pinned him with a headlock. He also easily defeated his Kinnick opponent 10-0. Nathaniel is physically powerful; able to pick up opponents off the mat with his double legs and force out of bad positions which he did Saturday. But, he is still a rookie. His biggest weakness is in his ability to sprawl. Nathaniel made adjustments to his stance by touching the mat before he wrestles to maintain a good low stance; which the team learned last Wednesday. However, after getting in a low stance, Nathaniel has a tendency to come up again when tying up with his opponent, making him vulnerable for leg attacks. He also has good technique with his fireman’s carry but yet to find the right time to shoot. Of course, he is doing remarkably well for a wrestle who has only had 20 practices and while he has many rookie mistakes to fix, he is good enough for his opponents so far. “Nathaniel is absorbing all the techniques and he initiates them in matches; it shows that he is listening and really understanding them moves well,” commented Coach Matsumoto.
Kai Sandoval, filled in for Jiei Izukune who was out for injury at 141lb, but he proved that he wasn’t just a backup. Kai went 2-1 on Saturday with his loss coming from the defending Far East champion from ASIJ who easily defeated Jiei last Tuesday as well. In his match against Kinnick, Kai hit a perfect “pancake” (headlock counter to a double leg) off of his opponent’s failed double leg, but got turned over to miss the pin. Then, Kai took a double leg shot which wasn’t so clean, but did an excellent job knee sliding and maintaining good base position to finally come up to take the opponent down. He quickly put a half Nelson to secure the pin. In his CAJ match, he hit the St. Mary’s signature reverse lock dump from a failed fireman’s carry position to secure another pin. Kai was giving up some weight (as he is a 135lb wrestler) but proved his techniques and grit can defeat opponents heavier than him.
Taiyo Mitsuoka at 148lb finally began to show how tough he really is. He went 3-0 for the day with 2 pins and a technical fall. He showed domination over his Kinnick and CAJ opponents, but his biggest challenge came from ASIJ, who Taiyo was absolutely dominated against last Tuesday. Taiyo could not do anything against this Mustang foe 4 days ago as Taiyo lacked aggression and initiative. It was almost the same on Saturday. His opponent controlled the entire match, which is understandable as his opponent is more experienced than Taiyo. His opponent has a folkstyle background (a wrestling style only done in the US) which is different from freestyle. On top, his opponent cranked a half Nelson with a leg hook in (a common folkstyle technique on the top ground position) and had Taiyo almost pinned. But, this is where Taiyo was different from 4 days ago. Instead of going to his back, Taiyo scrambled hard in this unfamiliar position and found a way out to put his opponent on his back! His opponent could not get off his back and Taiyo secured an upset victory. While this was great for the team in their dominating performance against ASIJ, Taiyo would need to be on more offense and use his freestyle techniques against this opponent for a more consistent win.
158lb, Shahir Mostafa, is brand new to the sport and competing in a challenging weight class. There are wrestles that are far more physical than Shahir at this weight class. Shahir has relied on his physical strength so far, which may work in the practice room, but it is no use against his opponents in a match. He has been making adjustments to improving his technique and he is improving. While losing his first two matches against Kinnick and ASIJ, he did pick up his first victory against CAJ with a pin. Once Shahir can find his “go-to” move, he can be more competitive at this weight class.
“I’m excited for Roman Leyko as he is improving fast but making lots of small mistakes and once he can fix those mistakes he can beat almost any wrestler at his weight,” analyzed Coach Matsumoto of another rookie, Roman, on the team. Roman has a decent left high crotch and a good left fireman’s carry, but he never uses them. Perhaps there were a few attempts, in which instance there were good outcomes. But, he is still far too passive and waits and waits until he ends up on his back to be pinned. One of the issues with Roman is his stance and positioning. He is often too tight, ear to ear, with his opponents which causes him to get stuck in the position. Also, his shoulders are facing away from his opponents often rather than square. If he can get to a better position, set up, and shoot, more than likely he will start putting up more points on the scoreboard. He wrestled hard for both of his dual matches and understands his mistakes. The coaching staff is looing forward to his more consistent performance this season.
Matthew Araya could not stand watching his teammates fall against ASIJ 4 days ago, and changed his plans to get down from 215lb to 180lb in January to last Saturday. One of the few veterans on the team, Matthew is a precious heavy weight wrestler. St. Mary’s often has a weak spot at this weight and above, but the Kanto league saw that this may not be the case this season. Matthew went an impressive 3-0 all pin performance on Saturday. While most 180lb wrestlers reply on pushing and headlocks, Matthew is more agile and can shoot on the legs. His double legs and high crotch takedowns, though not so clean, were effective enough for him to scramble up on top of his opponents. He had good matches were he was put on his back on a few occasions but fought out. Eventually he wore down his opponents to pin them.
With Matthew no longer at 215lb, it was time for Jotaro Yamaoka, freshmen, to shine on the mat. Jotaro and his “buddy” Kei Fujita are two freshmen rookies at 215lb. “These guys are rare. It would be a rare year to have even one 215lb wrestler, but we have two and they both have 3 more years to go. I am excited for these two,” said Coach Yabui. Kei had two exhibition matches and could not get his hand raised for either one. However, in his second match, he did a perfect head snap, rendering his opponent’s head to bounce all the way down on the mat; showing Kei is strong enough to be competitive at this weight class. Jotaro, unlike a rookie, listened to his coaches and tried moves on his debut tournament. In his match against Kinnick, Jotaro took multiple fireman’s carry shots. They were decent shots but just too far and without a set up. Although his attempts failed, he showed that if he can get deeper underneath his taller opponents, he can score. He wrestled hard and did his best on Saturday. Although he could not contribute to the team’s victories, he learned a lot and showed a lot of promise for the future.
“The team showed strong character wrestling back to back against two good teams [Kinnick and ASIJ] and never broke down physically or mentally because they listened and did what we told them to do,” commented Coach Moshe on the overall performance of the Titans on Saturday.
“The JV wrestlers did well too. Many of them asked for more exhibition matches and it proves how much they want to wrestle,” said Coach Matsumoto praising the efforts and performance of the JV wrestlers who had exhibition matches that day.
Coach Yabui wrapped up, “It was great to beat ASIJ who beat us earlier in the week; that change of attitude and despising losses are very important. But, we also need to realize that ASIJ beat us when it counted [for the Kanto league title] and that cannot be undone. So, we have to move forward and be as ready and hungry as we were today for all upcoming matches. Our ultimate goal is to win Far East, and the team that wins at the right time when it counts will be crowned champions in the end. We learned that we can improve and be more dominant, the question is whether we will or not. That’s up to the the wrestlers, but I’m excited to see that we have. Competitive team despite so many rookies.”
The Titans will take on Kinnick and Zama on December 14 for their regular Kanto league dual meet.
Pool Round 1
St. Mary’s 31 – Kinnick 24
108lb Jong In Lee pin Jonah Delacruz (KIN)
115lb Isaac Shane defeat Luke Menard (KIN) 10-0
122lb Maverick Kentz (KIN) defeated Luke Shane 11-1
129lb Masaya Toyokawa defeat Samuel Tovar (KIN) 10-0
135lb Nathaniel Twohig defeat Zavier Smith (KIN) 10-0
141lb Kai Sandoval pin Ethan McDanel (KIN)
148lb Taiyo Mitsuoka defeat Aiden Florespena (KIN) 10-0
158lb Wendell Harrison (KIN) pin Shahir Mostafa
168lb Josh Hernandez (KIN) pin Roman Leyko
180lb Matthew Araya pin Vincent Lin (KIN)
215lb Braden Askins (KIN) pin Jotaro Yamaoka
275lb Bobby Crisafulli (KIN) win by forfeit
Pool Round 2
St. Mary’s 40 – ASIJ 20
101lb Elizabeth Rexrode (ASIJ) win by forfeit
108lb Hugo Miyamoto win but forfeit
115lb Jong In Lee pin Mirabel Lee (ASIJ)
122lb Isaac Shane pin Kaisei Smith (ASIJ)
129lb Masaya Toyokawa pin Gabe Shikama (ASIJ)
135lb Nathaniel Twohig pin Leon Miller (ASIJ)
141lb Bryce Clement (ASIJ) pin Kai Sandoval
148lb Taiyo Mitsuoka pin Basil Rieger (ASIJ)
158lb James Curtis (ASIJ) pin Shahir Mostafa
168lb Isreal Rodriguez (ASIJ) pin Roman Leyko
180lb Matthew Araya pin Harald Hogberg (ASIJ)
215lb Jotaro Yamaoka win by forfeit
St. Mary’s 49 – CAJ 5
108lb Jong In Lee win by forfeit
115lb Isaac Shane pin Momoka Funakoshi (CAJ)
122lb Luke Shane win by forfeit
129lb Masaya Toyokawa defeat Timone Fambro (CAJ) 10-0
135lb Nathaniel Twohig win by forfeit
141lb Kai Sandoval pin Kade Loomis (CAJ)
148lb Taiyo Mitsuoka pin Zeke Wilson (CAJ)
158lb Shahir Mostafa pin Tyler Reidenbach (CAJ)
168lb Roman Leyko win by forfeit
180lb Matthew Araya pin Neo Fannin (CAJ)
215lb Jamie Marshall (CAJ) pin Jotaro Yamaoka