It’s quality, not quantity this year for Kalani girls wrestling squad
Roy Yamaguchi could see the signs early on, but even he wasn’t sure how far the competitiveness of his daughters would take them on the wrestling mat.
“They surprised us when they got into judo,” he said. “We couldn’t keep them away. They had to be the first kids at practice, and when they weren’t, they were disappointed.”
Fast-forward to now, and Morgan and Megan Yamaguchi aren’t merely the first to Kalani’s girls wrestling workouts. They are the only ones, making up the entire Falcon team themselves.
“When we have dual meets, it can be kind of intimidating, especially when we see Kahuku or Moanalua, which have a lot of girls,” said Megan, a senior.
Megan recently took first in the 114-pound weight class in the OIA East and second in the league’s overall finals, while Morgan claimed first in the 130-pound class in both the East and the overall OIA. Both were to compete in their respective weight classes over the weekend at the State Wrestling Championships.
While the Yamaguchi sisters continue to compete in judo in the spring, wrestling has become their primary interest, and what was already a strong bond between the two has increased. They practice together, go to school together, and are close off of the mat. They mirror each other also as model students on the Kalani honor roll.
“We have a different set of friends, but we’re really close,” said Morgan, a sophomore. “We both like sports, we both like the outdoors, and we both like to eat — especially after weigh-ins.
“On weekends, we’ll go out and eat things we wouldn’t normally eat during the week. We always reward ourselves with dessert after a tournament. Our favorite place is Just Tacos in Mililani.”
As for differences, “My sister is more of a girly girl,” Morgan said. “She wears eyeliner and stuff.”
“She’s getting there (wearing makeup),” Megan added. “We were really tomboys until we got to high school. Dad used to tease us, saying he raised boys.”
Their bond also helps in the wrestling arena. They’re coached by Kalani’ s head wrestling coach Racer Moody and head girls coach Brian Solusod, but also give each other feedback as needed. They wrestle each other in practice every day.
“We talk to each other a lot about wrestling, and we’re always there when one has a match,” said Megan. “We check up on each other. We’re tight.
“It helps a lot (that both wrestle),” she added. “When I first started as a sophomore, it was harder. I was the only girl (on the girls team). Last year, when she (Morgan) joined, it made me feel somuch better — on an emotional level, too. We could talk things out. She knew exactly what was going on (wrestling-wise).”
“We try to comfort each other,” said Morgan, “and before a match, we tell each other to leave it all on the mat. At practice, we try to simulate the upcoming opponent. On the way home, we’ll talk about it quite a bit, and our parents will ask us what we learned that day.”
While both have excelled in wrestling, the adjustment from judo wasn’t swift, according to Morgan. “I didn’t like it at first; I grew into it. I started to improve and become more confident, and my sister started helping me and pushed me to like it more.”
The girls’ mother, Charlene, still finds it “amazing,” to see them compete at such a high level. “It’s exciting to watch — there’s a lot of adrenaline (in wrestling),” she said, noting how far the sport has come since her own high school days. “I even have co-workers still asking, ‘What, wrestling?’ But we’re very happy with how they’ve progressed.”