’11 alumnus judoka Kuaana returns to coach

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Photo by Dylan Godsey

Joshua Kuaana ('11) and his sister Joelene Kuaana at today's King Kekaulike High School judo bracket tourney, April 14, 2012.

By Dylan Godsey, sports co-editor

PUKALANI-2011 graduate of Kamehameha Schools Maui Joshua Kuaana came back to KSM as a volunteer judo coach for this season.

Last year, Kuaana qualified for and competed in the state championships held in Honolulu. Kuaana is coaching not only previous peers, but also his sister, freshman Joelene Kuaana.

“It’s interesting, and it’s nice seeing friends, family, and new faces come out to judo,” said Coach Kuaana.

Members of the team like Pololu Nakanelua and Sean Segundo have played the sport alongside Kuaana.

“It’s a lot easier having Josh a part of the coaching program because he has been through the program and knows how everything works,” Nakanelua said.

Since last year, there have been several changes to the team in size, age, and success.

“Personally this season is really good because I’m placing consistently first and second which is better than last year. Also our team has more than tripled in size, and, overall for wins, we are doing better,” Nakanelua said.

“There a lot of potential in this team. Skillwise, I think this is one of the best teams I’ve seen,” Kuaana said.

Today’s meet at the King Kekaulike High School gymnasium was played bracket tournament style. Many of the young faces of the team were there to compete.

“I think we’re doing pretty good. For a lot of us it’s our first year, so it’s a learning experience,” freshman Lilia Lorenzo said.

Ken Kanemitsu, senior on the team, experienced his first loss of the season today to a Baldwin Judoka. Up to this point, he had been undefeated with 12 wins. He finished second in the 178 lb. weight bracket today.

Also placing in their weight classes for Kamehameha were Ne’ula Aarona, who came in first, and Segundo and Kuaana who placed second.

The Warriors’ next meet is at home, next week, Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m.

“People should really come out and watch. Judo is an underestimated sport. People don’t know or understand judo until they actually see it,” Nakanelua said.