The 2009-10 school term will be remembered as a banner year in sports at Lahainaluna. Highlighted by the girls basketball team’s run to a state championship and the six Maui Interscholastic League titles — won in football, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls wrestling and surfing — those efforts are celebrated with bars on the “L” above the campus on Mount Ball.
There was one championship effort, however, that may have been lost in transition from sport to sport during this golden year at Lahainaluna.
After finishing as the state runner-up wrestler at 152 pounds in 2009, Holden Mowat was determined to reach the top in his senior year.
Immediately after that crushing defeat of his junior season, Mowat set forth on the strict training regimen and diet that only wrestlers truly know.
Running in the merciless Lahaina sun, training in the steamy Luna Wrestling Room — constantly reminded of the ’09 loss by the Wall of Fame placard there listing the state tournament placers of years gone by — he laid the groundwork of his pathway to that coveted gold medal.
Then, on Sept. 2, 2009, Holden’s world caved in on him.
In a workout with a teammate in the Luna Wrestling Room, Mowat attempted to brace himself as he was being taken down. A chilling snap echoed in the room as he rolled over to see his disfigured arm lying limp on the mat.
The sickening feeling of defeat crept into his psyche as the dark curtain of severe injury wrestled with the reasonable sectors of his mind. Was this the end?
Preliminary examinations with orthopedic physicians seemed to indicate that it was. Mowat would risk lifelong disability if he re-injured his elbow in wrestling competition or training, and his senior season on the Luna football team — on which he was a standout defensive lineman and linebacker — was definitely out.
Here, however, is where the spirit — the mana — of the culture and character of Lahaina stands up, manifested in the championship hearts of its children.
Dr. Darren Egami, the orthopedic physician treating Mowat, just happened to be a former wrestler himself; Lahainaluna Athletic Trainer Jon Conrad is one of the best in the state; wrestling coach Todd Hayase has led the Lunas to five straight Maui Interscholastic League titles and four top three finishes at the state tournament; and, perhaps most of all, Holden is blessed with loving, supportive parents.
“The support of his parents throughout the years, but especially during Holden’s senior year, is what really stands out to me,” explained Coach Hayase in recalling the past season and the influence of mom Surficia and dad Kekoa.
“He worked harder than anybody up there and gave 110 percent all the time. It got to the point where we had to take him aside and ask him to tone down his captain’s role a bit. But the main thing is that his parents were always there to support him.”
With his parents straightening his back and holding his chin up, Holden reset his course to rehabbing his arm, while at the same time continuing on the grueling conditioning regimen with the hopes of returning to the mat for the 2010 MIL season. “He came in here every day to face some very painful treatments to regain the range of motion in his arm,” said Trainer Jon.
“And then he would run down to the physical therapist’s office for more treatments — that he paid for himself by selling candy. He kept on working.”
Holden missed the preseason tournaments on the Lunas’ schedule, entered the mat for the MIL opener and continued on through the season to win his third straight league championship.
Then, on “Tsunami Weekend,” he culminated the storybook season by wrestling his way to the 152-pound gold medal.
Six months after suffering a near career-ending injury, Lahainaluna’s Holden Mowat stood on top of the podium as a state champion. Imua! (By Walter Chihara)
Holden Mowat capped off the season by being named the MIL Boys Wrestler of the Year.