Girls judo shows potential in opening tournament


Photo by Faith Owan

Freshman Jillian Ikehara holds her opponent in place at the opening Round Robin Judo Tournament at Kaʻulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium on Saturday, April 2. Ikehara placed first in her 98-lb weight class.

Seven girls and three boys placed in the opening Round Robin Judo Tournament of the season held at Kaʻulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium yesterday.

Four girls placed first: freshman Jillian Ikehara in her 98-lb weight class, senior Alyssa Urayanza in a 122-lb. tie, sophomore Malie Nahoolewa in 129-lb., and senior Keely Lindsey in 220-lb.

“Based on what I’ve seen today and during practice I feel like [the girls] are strong enough, and they know what they’re doing to be able to win MIL’s,” Lindsey said.

So far, she has continued an undefeated streak that started in her sophomore year. She was the Maui Interscholastic League Champion in her weight class as both a sophomore and junior, and now, as a senior, she’s the girls judo team captain.

Lindsey said that judo coach Sensei Ron Hiyakumoto expects team captains to be able to lead practice without him, making sure “everyone is prepared and ready for our meets” and teaching students who don’t know what to do.

“It’s hard but it’s fun when they start winning and doing things correctly,” Lindsey said.

Jillian Ikehara is one of the new judo students on the girls team. After taking a break from two years of club judo, Ikehara said she wanted to “get back into a sport.”

Although Ikehara said that she was nervous before her first match, she was okay after her first win. She remained undefeated for the rest of the tournament.

Ikehara’s goal this judo season is “to win MIL’s.” She said that judo helps with discipline.

“It teaches you, besides self-defense, self-control and how to be able to do stuff by yourself,” she said.

For the boys team, Dawson “Kainalu” Taniguchi was the only student to place first, winning in his 161-lb. weight class.

Taniguchi is the boys team captain and said that the first tournament “is always to shake the cobwebs out.” He said that he didn’t have expectations for anybody.

“I [told] my team ‘go out there, do your best, and whatever happens, we’ll work on it this coming week,’” he said.

Taniguchi said that the girls team has a lot of potential, and he is looking forward to seeing their improvement.

“I think by the end of this year they will definitely be victorious,” he said.

Taniguchi’s main goal for the judo team overall is for them to improve.

“This season, I want to make sure that everyone is making weight, make sure everyone is improving as the season goes along, and make sure everyone wins at least one match,” he said.