KEAAU – In a day of super highs several East Hawaii youngsters positioned themselves in the number 2 position in the state during a Big Island Interscholastic Federation track & field meet held this past Saturday at Keaau.
Hilo’s Shina Chung, Kamehameha’s Kaopua Sutton and Keaau’s Daniel Brooks all gave super efforts during week two of the BIIF track & field season.
Chung, only a sophomore, set a new personal record in the pole vault with her clearing height of 9 feet 8 inches, 14 inches higher than she went last week.
“The biggest thing for me was getting a bigger pole and making the transition,” Chung said of her clearance that ranks her second in the state.
“I went to a 120 pound, 12 feet 6 inch pole and it worked for me today. I’m really happy with my personal best and I now feel confident that I can get to 10 feet,” she said.
Hilo’s vault coach, Sherman Viernes, believes that Chung will be able to clear 10 feet within the next few meets.
“Shina tried 10 feet today, but the end of the pole died,” Viernes said. “For somebody not knowing much about pole vaulting prior to last year she has come a long way. The only thing stopping her now is her mental focus, once she figures that out she’ll be able to go even higher.”
While Chung was conquering new heights Kamehameha’s Kaopua Sutton was finding new distances.
The Warrior senior threw the discus further than she has ever thrown it before, 123 feet 8.5 inches, to record the second best distance in the state.
“Last year my personal best in the BIIF was 115 feet and when I went to states I threw 117 feet,” Sutton said. “I’ve been hitting 120 feet during practice, so I knew I could do it.”
Sutton, who stands 5’ 10” is the defending BIIF champion in the discus and she owes much of her success to her mental attitude.
“I raised my mental focus and now I think I can go at least 130 feet in this event,” she said. “I’m pretty stoked with what I did today.”
Not to be outdone Keaau’s Daniel Brooks made a bold statement prior to running the 1500 meter race. “I plan on going under 4 minutes 20 seconds,” Brooks said during warm ups.
The Cougar senior had to run his own race as no one in the field was capable of keeping up with his torrid pace.
After the first lap Brooks had already built a 20-meter lead and continued building on the lead going into the bell lap when he opened the gap to 70 meters over his closest competition.
At the tape Brooks clocked in with a 4:15.96 a full second faster than his personal best time and good enough to list him as the fourth fastest in the state this year.
“I felt really good today and I knew I could get under 4:20,” he said. “I’ve set my goals high in my senior season and I’m going to try to run 4 flat by the time states rolls around.”
“I’m hoping to get a scholarship to a mainland college to run track,” Brooks said. “In order to get that scholarship I need to get my 1500 time down to 4 minutes and my 800 time to 1:56.”
Brooks later returned to the track to win the 800 meters in 2:03.89, three seconds faster than the previous week.
“I’m happy with my 800 time and I still have a ways to go, but this is good for this point in the season,” he said. “I still need to run the 4×400 relay later today and next week I’d like to mix things up and get a good 3000 time.”
Brooks is looking forward to Saturdays all-schools meet to be held at Kamehameha as this would be the first time this season that he will match up with Honokaa’s best distance runner Chris Mosch.
“I know Chris will really push me as we’ll be able to help each other run faster,” Brooks said. “I’m looking forward to the competition.”
Mosch ran his 1500 at Konawaena in 4:25, but is considered to be one of the best 3000 meter runners in the state.
In the girls 300 hurdles it was Keaau’s Azmera Hammouri-Davis getting the win in 50.9 seconds.
“Last year I ran 50.05 seconds and my goal would be to break 50 seconds and hopefully get down to 48 by the end of the season,” she said.
“I think I’m stuttering before I hit the hurdle,” Hammouri-Davis said. “I need to be faster out of the blocks and work on my technique more in order to get a faster time.”
Saturday’s meet at Keaau was an Eastern Division contest with Konawaena hosting a Western Division meet.
The BIIF is the only league that has two fully automated timing systems and both were in full operation. Chris Drayer handled the FAT system at Kona while Curt Beck and Bob Martin operated the other FAT system at Keaau.
The use of FAT is important at track meets throughout the State of Hawaii.
FAT or Fully Automated Timing has been used by the Big Island Interscholastic Federation at all its track & field meets since 2003 and has become the premiere method of timing throughout the United States.
Tied into the FAT software is a photo finish camera that captures 1000 pictures per second and sends the results to a database program called Hy-Tek Meet Manager for Track and Field.
Bob Martin, the Technology Coordinator at Ka’u High School and Pahala Elementary School, became instrumental in learning and operating the FAT system.
“When I started working at Ka’u in 2004, Kimo Weaver had just become the Athletic Director, and he noticed my technical abilities and talked me into operating the system with Curt (Beck)”, Martin said.
Beck became involved with BIIF track nine years ago when his son, Robert, ran on the Waiakea team.
“When Robert ran for Waiakea I became a parent volunteer, operating a stop watch at the track meets back in the days when we ran on cinder surfaces at Hilo and HPA,” Beck said.
“Phil Aganus and Bill McMahon put together a FAT team and provided me with training on the FAT system and I’ve been with it ever since,” Beck said.
But in the early, pre Bob Martin years, the FAT system encountered many problems, primarily that they (the FAT team) couldn’t make the system complete all its functions.
Martin became a nationally certified USATF official and his main certification is in FAT/Computing and Competition Secretary. “I am also Chief Photo Finish Operator and Finish Line Coordinator,” he said.
FAT is important because it has enabled many more Big Island runners to make state qualifying times, according to Beck. “FAT has an essentially zero reaction time, unlike a human being with a stop watch. We no longer have to handicap runners by a quarter-second relative to the various state qualifying times to take account of the reaction times of human timers using stop watchers,” he said.
Under the old way of timing track meets stop watches were used to clock all the races, but there is an allowance that needs to be added to all hand times in order to account for delayed reaction starting the clock with the gun.
“If a runner is clocked at 11.24 seconds in the 100 meter dash on a stopwatch we need to round that up to 11.3 seconds and then allow for a .24 second slow reaction, which would make his time 11.54,” Martin explained.
The FAT system takes all the guess work out of timing runners as the gun is hooked into a computer system and the clock at the finish line captures photo images of each contestant in a precise method of timing.
“We no longer have to take long discussions to see who the winner was in a dead heat as it can now be settled in a few seconds using the computer photos. With the FAT system we can literally decide the winner between two runners who are but a jersey’s thickness apart at the finish,” Beck said.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association will hold its first ever state track & field meet on the Big Island this weekend at Keaau and a large part of the decision to host it at a BIIF site was due to the FAT technology brought to the league by pioneers, Martin and Beck.
“Bob Martin is the undisputed leader of our FAT team. He sees to it that the whole system, from camera image to final meet scoring sheet, works. And then he goes a step farther and posts the results in real time on his website for all to see,” Beck said.
And Martin is equally complimentary of Beck by saying, “Curt is very meticulous to say the least. There is not another photo finish operator that I’ve worked with that has the knowledge of camera alignment and the various tweaks within the Finish lynx program that create pictures as perfect as he does.”
The duo of Martin and Beck are also staffed with an entire crew under the timing tent which include Beverly Beck, Chris Drayer, Kane Thomas and Kayla Nishimura.
“In a short amount of time our crew has mastered the programs that run our track meets,” Martin said.
And for backup the computerized system also has Randee Arkin, who serves as the head finish line timer, using an “old fashioned” hand held timer.
“We are the souls that time men’s tries (with apologies to Thomas Paine),” Arkin said with a smile.
“Randee backs us up in everyone of the running events at every meet and we’ve had to use her times on occasion,” Beck said.
The HHSAA track and field state championship begins this Friday at Keaau with the qualifying heats for each event. On Saturday the championships conclude with event finals.
“Numerous volunteers contribute to the making of a successful track meet and the FAT team is just one of the many, behind the scenes functions,” Beck said.