KEAAU — Zephaniah Pavao and Keenan Greenbaum are more like friendly sibling rivals than fierce competitors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put on a good show.
The pair of 285-pound heavyweights were the final match of a 9 1/2-hour day at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation wrestling championships. And as the old adage goes, save the best for last.
They brought not only much anticipation to Keaau High’s gym but also a history that only increased the drama.
Last year, Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Greenbaum pinned Keaau’s Pavao in the third round at Kealakehe High’s gym. The venue switched sides of the island, and fortunately for Pavao it was on his home turf.
As the home crowd roared, Pavao pinned Greenbaum at the 1 minute and 47 second mark in the first round for his first BIIF championship.
Actually, the big Cougar is more successful in judo, a sport Greenbaum doesn’t participate in. He’s the two-time defending BIIF heavyweight champ and was second as a freshman.
After the loss, Greenbaum’s disappointment was abated by the friendship.
“It was a good day. The better man won today,” said a smiling Greenbaum, who didn’t place as a sophomore and didn’t wrestle as a freshman. “I went for a takedown and he countered my mistake. He got it and knew what to do.
“It’s more of a sibling rivalry between us. We got at it on the mat. After that, it’s just us.”
Football is first priority for Pavao, as it is for Greenbaum, but wrestling runs a close second. Pavao is hoping to play football in college; if not he’ll turn to wrestling. Greenbaum is weighing football scholarships on the table.
Winning wrestling gold was Pavao’s goal. He won silver last year and as a sophomore, too. As a freshman, he was fourth.
“It’s a dream come true,” Pavao said. “I wanted to take him to the third round and tire him out. I tried not to make any mistakes. I’m excited. I’m finally No. 1 after four years of wrestling.”
Keaau coach Charles Manning has been at the school for nine years. He watched the two heavyweight compete against each other the last two years. He also noticed that Pavao closed the gap.
“Those two kids have fought hard all year long, but in the last three against each other it was close,” he said of the matchups, standing at 2-2. “In the last two, Zeph was focused and if he could get under Greenbaum nobody is going to stop that because he’s strong with his base.
“I knew it was going to be a war. Zeph is strong and quick. You don’t see a big man who can shoot, get under you and pick you up. He was just focused and fighting at home I expected him to do well.”
97 pounds: Shaylyn Arakaki, Hilo, pinned Marie Danielle DeRosario, Kealakehe, 1:27 first round.
101: Aaliyah Ching, Konawaena. No opponent.
105: Jade Cadaoas, Kealakehe, pinned Jessica Rabang, Waiakea, :39 first round.
109: Charlotte Taylor, Honokaa, pinned Kena Greenbaum, Kealakehe, 1:16 first round.
113: Crystal Baysa, Kamehameha, defeated Katie Funai, Hilo, 9-8.
117: Maria Hernandez, Hilo, pinned Tracy Galanto, Kealakehe, 4:37 third round.
121: Destiny Masters, Kealakehe, pinned Brandy Ilac-Wong, Honokaa, 1:04 first round.
125: Kaiya Casuga, HPA, pinned Anais Huet, Kealakehe, :48 first round.
130: Ashlee Lopez, Keaau, pinned Pauline Gampon, Kealakehe, 2:51 second round.
135: Loke Ching, HPA, pinned Skye Matsuura, Waiakea, 1:32 first round.
140: Kayla Araki, Kamehameha, pinned Savannah DePonte, Pahoa, 1:25 first round.
155: Lahi Kanakanui, Hilo, pinned Carleigh Vallente, Honokaa, 3:23 second round.
175: Kawena Ruamoo-Mendiola, Waiakea, defeated Leah Mello-Waiwaiole, 9-5.
220: Tia Kalalau, Kamehameha, pinned Billie Bruce, Pahoa, 1:23 first round.
106: Elison Galanto, Kealakehe, pinned Raulin Santiago, Pahoa, :58 second round.
113: Shaeden Quevedo, Hilo, pinned Kaaumoana Estrella, Kamehameha, :47 third round.
120: Will Spain, Waiakea, defeated Trey Galigo, Kamehameha, 11-7.
126: Xylon Takata, Waiakea, defeated Julian Tongpalan, Hilo, 18-13.
132: Austin Kuahuai, Waiakea, pinned Shon Inouye, Konawaena, 1:23 third round.
138: Uriel Santiago, Pahoa, pinned Brandon Corpuz, Keaau, 5:07 third round.
145: Reed Hayashikawa, Pahoa, pinned Thomas Kahooilihala, Hilo, 1:29 first round.
152: Alan Ikehara, Waiakea def. Austin Sprague, Honokaa, 20-5.
160: Hoku Kahookaulana, Pahoa, pinned Chastin Kekahuna, Kamehameha, 5:57 third round.
170: Kaleo Holt, Kona, pinned Justus Mikkelson, Waiakea, 2:48 second round.
182: Kayed Rodrigues, Waiakea, pinned Kaulu Obrey, Kealakehe, :52 first round.
195: Haaheo Chan, Keaau, pinned Russell Laros, HPA, 1-0 third round.
220: Kincaid Kawananakoa, HPA, defeated Kamalani Crum, Kamehameha, 9-2.
Waiakea, 163 points; Pahoa, 153; Kamehameha, 110; HPA, 105; Kealakehe, 103; Keaau, 94; Konawaena, 90; Hilo, 77; and Honokaa, 79
Kealakehe, 122; Hilo, 100; Kamehameha, 84; HPA, 76; Waiakea, 58; Honokaa, 57; Pahoa, 52; Keaau, 23; and Ka‘u, 18