But as the eagle leaves its nest, it’s not so far to go. — Led Zeppelin “Ten Years Gone”
The wrestling accomplishments just keep coming for Hawaii’s grapplers.
Before COVID-19 hit the nation hard in March, Cody Cabanban wrestled to a National Collegiate Wrestling Association championship, and Liam Corbett placed fifth nationally to become a JUCO All-American for the second time.
Cabanban is a Saint Louis School graduate. Corbett went to Leilehua, where he was a two-time high school state champion.
A transfer from Menlo College, Cabanban nestled in at Shreiner University (Kerrville, Texas) as a junior for the 2019-20 season en route to his national junior college crown in the 125-pound class.
“I think it was one of biggest accomplishments to me,” Cabanban said in a recent phone interview. “Making it to college was another one. The next thing. is graduating. One more title would be good.”
Cabanban never broke through for a state title with the Crusaders, but his brother and Saint Louis teammate Corey Cabanban (now wrestling for Iowa State) won four Hawaii championships.
“I choked (in high school), didn’t get it done, no excuses,” Cody Cabanban said.
During the regular season, Cabanban’s only losses came when he bumped up to the 133-pound class.
“Going to nationals (in Allen, Texas, in March), I felt pretty good, in top shape,” he added. “It’s the best I could have done. I was kinda nervous because it was my first college national championships under the big lights. And there was even more pressure because my parents were there. They don’t really get to watch me that much in college. It was kind of nerve-racking, being at that level at nationals, but once I got going, the adrenaline kicked in.”
Cabanban is not the only 2020 national wrestling champ from Hawaii. Menlo’s Blaysen Terukina won an NAIA title, also in March.
It took four wins for Cabanban at nationals to secure the title, and the final was a close one against Jovan Garcia of Big Bend Community College (Moses Lake, Wash.). He got the final takedown with 12 seconds left for a 15-10 victory.
It’s been a long road for Leilehua’s Liam Corbett since he left high school.
He took a year off and then competed for two different junior colleges, but the bouncing around didn’t stop him from being named a JUCO All-American twice.
The first time he did it, he placed fifth at nationals while wrestling for Highline College (Des Moines, Wash.) in 2018. In March, he duplicated the feat with another fifth-place finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa, this time with Cowley College (Arkansas City, Kan.).
As a junior next season, which starts (tentatively, due to COVID-19) later this fall, Corbett will wrestle for the University of Dubuque (Dubuque, Iowa).
“I actually had to cut a lot of weight this year,” he said. “That was probably the biggest challenge.”
Every week, Corbett said, he had to cut his weight from 170 to 157.
“It was way too big of a cut to make and it took me a long time — the first couple months of the season — to get it under control,” he added. “My dad (Leilehua coach Kevin Corbett) wants me to go up to 165 this year.”
Corbett credited practice partner Ottis Peeler (184-pound national champion) with helping him get ready for the full grind.
“That was one of the biggest highlights was seeing one of my teammates win the nationals,” said Corbett, who went undefeated in dual meets throughout the season. “It put things in perspective. I can achieve that goal. I’m practicing with him and beside him every day. At Dubuque, I ultimately want to win a national title for myself, and the bigger picture is the team. At Cowley, we won the (Jayhawk Conference). Dubuque is a pretty solid team.”