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Moanalua’s Palimoo pullsoff upset

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    Kahuku's Zion Barcena picked up Maui's Kevin Thorman during his 171-pound victory on Friday at Blaisdell Arena.

This time, Jacob Palimoo made sure history would repeat itself.

The Moanalua senior just made certain it was the route he took as a sophomore, not as a junior. The unseeded 130-pounder upset No. 4 seed Shannon Samura of Hawaii Prep to reach today’s semifinal round at the Chevron/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships at Blaisdell Arena.

Palimoo escaped out of Samura’s grasp to break a tie early in the third period for a 3-2 victory. Two years ago, Palimoo reached the 114 semifinals before losing to eventual champion Jordan Ng. Last year, he was ousted from title contention on the first day and lost on the back side, going home without a medal.

"From the stands, it looks kind of easy, but when you’re on the mat, there’s so much stuff going through your mind," said Palimoo, whose natural weight is 130. "Last year, I was very disappointed. It was a tough weight class."

Palimoo won his opening match against Angel Lorenzo of King Kekaulike 16-0.

After a busy offseason of judo and working out, he’s now in position to pull off another big upset.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association runner-up faces Punahou’s Todd Murakawa, the top seed who was nearly upset in his second match Friday.

"He plays a real defensive game, so I see a lot of shooting opportunities," Palimoo said of the 10 a.m. semifinal match. "I’m wrestling smarter this year."

Murakawa needed overtime to get past Mililani’s Cody Uyejo 3-1. Uyejo kept good position and didn’t make a single shoot attempt, according to one HHSAA official, and regulation time ended with the match tied at 1. Murakawa scored a 2-pointer on a reversal in OT.

Another upset in the 130 weight class had Pac-Five’s Thomas Tawata (Hawaii Baptist) knocking out third-seeded Robert Campos of Lahainaluna.

It was quite a difference experience for Tawata, a junior who was one of the top ILH JV wrestlers the past two years. He spent Thursday night with a handful of teammates getting his hair bleached to match one of Pac-Five’s team colors, orange.

Then he went out and beat Trent Hashimoto-Noguchi of Hilo before edging Campos. It was his first meeting with Campos since the Maui Invitational Tourney, where he also earned a narrow victory.

"It was about scrambles," said Tawata, who is 11-4 overall. "I’m not the best shooter. I’ve been working hard, pushing hard."

Tawata’s biggest concern after today will be dyeing his hair back to a "natural color," in accordance with a school rule. For this morning, his focus is on No. 2 seed Gabriel Iereneo-Baring of Pearl City.

In another surprise, the No. 2 seed at 145, junior Brandon Lum of ‘Iolani, lost a close decision to Radford’s Christopher Jackson. Then Jackson lost to another unseeded wrestler, Cory Okuda of Aiea.

Another No. 2 seed, Pac-Five’s Chloe Nagasawa (Pacific Buddhist), took the mat despite suffering a dislocated kneecap three weeks ago. The 114-pound ILH champion lost to Waipahu’s Rea Mae Garcia in the opening round.

As expected, none of the top seeds fell.

"I feel good," said Pearl City’s Sanoe Spencer, top seed in the girls 220 weight class. The senior pinned Judy Benosa of Radford with a double-leg move, then pinned Rainbow Ulii of Kamehameha with an underhook move. Both matches ended in the first period.

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