KEAAU – The Wildcats and Cougars were running wild on Saturday as their track and field teams swept the girls and boys titles at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championships.
For the Konawaena girls and the Keaau boys this was their first league championships in school history and a big reason to celebrate.
Keaau Coach Vicky Chai-Guerpo was at a loss for words in what was an emotional journey over several years.
“This was a team effort,” the tearful Cougar coach said. “I’m so proud of them and they did it for themselves, their parents and for their school.”
The Cougars relied on the experience of a sprint core made up of Jesse Huihui, Damien Packer, and Alexander Engdahl with teammate Cliff Ericksson handling the jumps and hurdles.
Packer and Eriksson got the Cougars started going one, two respectively in the 110 hurdles to give the Cougars 18 team points and from that point forward Keaau never relinquished the team lead.
“It feels very exciting and I’m just glad to have had the opportunity,” Packer said of his 110 victory. “I think I can do better at states if I remain determined and focused.”
Sprinting also translated into victory in the 4×100 with Keaau showcasing their multitalented corps, not only winning the BIIF relay title by posting the best time in the state with a 43.10 time.
Egdahl, Packer, along with Raskassa Johnson and Jessie Huihui were instrumental in the picture perfect sprint relay for the Cougars.
Balance in Keaau’s firepower could be found everywhere with Cougars Engdahl and Eriksson going 1 and 3 respectively in the 300 hurdles for 16 points.
“It feels awesome to win,” Engdahl said. “This year I think I can do good at states and I will try my best.”
“This was our first BIIF title, in any sport, in school history,” Keaau Athletic Director Iris McGuire said. “We entered the BIIF during the 1998-’99 season, so this title means a lot to our school.”
Chai-Guerpo has been the track and field coach at Keaau since 2000.
“Everyone in this school will know that it is possible,” Chai-Guerpo said. “I’ve been coaching for a while and this has been a long time in coming.”
While the Cougar boys were racking up an enormous lead in the team standing, eventually winning by more than 40 points over a talented Kealakehe squad, the Wildcats girls were in a seesaw battle for their team title.
Kona using their two big guns in Ua Ruedy and Lia Galdeira were heavily relied upon to score the big points, but it was the few unexpected points that helped put them over the top in a close battle.
Wildcat Coach Kuulei Karratti-Saole had predicted the team’s victory the day before saying, “We should win by 10 to 15 points.”
The Kona coach knew her team well and relied upon Galdeira to score 50 points and Ruedy to add another 34 to keep a talented Hawaii Preparatory Academy team at bay during most of the day.
At one point, with just three events to go, HPA trailed the Wildcats by 14 points with the 3K, 200 dash and 4×400 relay left.
Four pivotal points were scored by Kona’s little known freshman, Shayli Nakamoto in the 3000 run with her fourth place finish.
“I just wanted to keep my team in first place,” Nakamoto said. “I feel really important.”
Nakamoto’s contribution managed to keep the Wildcat lead and it was a surprise victory in the 200 that sealed the team win for Kona.
The 200 dash saw Galdeira get disqualified in a false start the day before and it became a surprise victory for teammate Ruedy that sealed the deal.
“I never thought I could win the 200,” Ruedy said. “It is a big win for me and our team.”
“I think this is the first time Kona has won a BIIF team track title,” Karratti-Saole said.
Karratti-Saole is in her fourth year at the helm of the Wildcat track program. She is also a former state champion in track winning the gold medal in the 100 back in 2003.
Kona edged out HPA for the girls team title by 11 points.
The upset of the day may have come in the girls 1500 run with Hilo’s Carmen Garson-Shumway taking on defending state champion, HPA’s Zoe Sims.
HPA, known for their talented distance runners, took a pack of four runners immediately to the lead.
“I didn’t want to get boxed in so I moved out with 300 to go,” Garson-Shumway said.
It became an all out sprint to the finish with Sims and teammate Kristiana Van Pernis staying on the heels of Garson-Shumway.
All three girls crossed the finish line under the meet record, with Garson-Shumway winning in 4:53.36, Sims 4:54.63, and Van Pernis 4:55.23.
“I didn’t expect to win,” Garson-Shumway said. “We are all friends and this is not about winning, it’s about the experience.”
Garson-Shumway was quick to give credit to her teammate, freshman Mehana Sabado-Halpern for helping to push her during practice.
“Mehana helps to push me and she is a real nice running partner,” Garson-Shumway said.
Sims later returned to the oval to redeem the situation in the 800 winning in a meet record time of 2:18.46 to edge out Garson-Shumway, 2:20.02.
The girl’s pole vault title went to HPA senior Sydney Budde at 8-6 with Kealakehe sophomore Kristi Lovell finish second.
The senior, who has vaulted all four years, was excited about her first BIIF title.
“That’s insane that I made it this far,” Budde said. “I’ve been second in my previous three years.”
Keaau will play host to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association track and field championships on Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12.
Kealakehe’s Dylan Navarro won the race in 11.27 seconds, but Keaau’s Jesse Huihui, who is nursing a strained knee, sat out for the second week in a row and didn’t compete against Navarro in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
Both boys should duel for the BIIF championships on Saturday, April 30.
Girls 100 Meter Dash BIIFQualify: B 14.47 HHSAA Auto: A 12.94 HsSAA Cons: C 13.24 1 Emalia Galdeira JR Konawaena 12.98C 5 10 2 Kristina Padrigo SO Ka'u 13.31B 5 8 3 Aloha Bohol SR Hilo 13.42B 5 6 4 Chelsea Poe JR Kamehameha HI 13.43B 5 4 5 Caili Ebaniz SO Kealakehe 13.61B 5 2 6 Mae Quiamas Honokaa 13.77B 5 1 Boys 100 Meter Dash BIIFQualify: B 12.27 HHSAA Auto: A 11.14 HHSAA Cons: C 11.44 1 Dylan Navarro SR Kealakehe 11.27C 7 10 2 Alexander Engdahl JR Keaau 11.44C 7 8 3 Raskassa Johnson FR Hilo 11.57B 7 6 4 Travis Winters JR Waiakea 11.64B 7 4 5 Christian Lee SR Hawaii Prep 11.70B 7 2 6 Aijah Thompson SR Keaau 11.74B 7 1
Girls 100 Meter Dash BIIFQualify: B 14.47 HHSAA Auto: A 12.94 HHSAA Cons: C 13.24 1 Ua Ruedy SO Konawaena 13.16C 5 10 2 Kristina Padrigo SO Ka'u 13.23C 5 8 3 Chelsea Poe JR Kamehameha HI 13.29B 5 6 4 Aloha Bohol SR Hilo 13.49B 5 4 5 Cheyanne MacMullen JR Kealakehe 13.52B 5 2 6 Katie Aguilar Honokaa 13.56B 5 1
Girls 200 Meter Dash
BIIFQualify: B 29.96
HHSAA Auto: A 26.64
HHSAA Cons: C 27.64 1 Ua Ruedy SO Konawaena 26.83C 4 10
2 Aloha Bohol SR Hilo 27.53C 4 8
3 Kristina Padrigo SO Ka’u 27.58C 4 6
4 Caili Ebaniz SO Kealakehe 27.97B 1 4
5 Katie Aguilar Honokaa 28.10B 4 2
6 Mae Quiamas Honokaa 28.42B 4 1
Boys 100 Meter Dash BIIFQualify: B 12.27 HHSAA Auto: A 11.14 HHSAA Cons: C 11.44 1 Dylan Navarro SR Kealakehe 11.27C 8 10 2 Kaenen Aukai Akau JR Kamehameha HI 11.32C 8 8 3 Alexander Engdahl JR Keaau 11.47B 8 6 4 Travis Winters JR Waiakea 11.51B 8 4 5 Raskassa J ohnson FR Hilo 11.69B 8 2 6 Aijah Thompson SR Keaau 11.71B 8 1 Boys 200 Meter Dash BIIFQualify: B 24.98 HHSAA Auto: A 22.74 HHSAA Cons: C 23.44 1 Dylan Navarro SR Kealakehe 22.62A 6 10 2 Travis Winters JR Waiakea 23.31C 6 8 3 Alexander Engdahl JR Keaau 23.51B 6 6 4 Colton Austria SO Waiakea 23.83B 6 4 5 Christian Lee SR Hawaii Prep 23.91B 6 2 6 Raskassa Johnson FR Hilo 23.96B 6 1
KEAAU – Konawaena’s Emalia Galdeira and Ua Ruedy wrecked havoc on the track to lead the lady Wildcats in team scoring this past Saturday during a Big Island Interscholastic Federation track & field meet held at the Cougar track.
In a heavy, sporadic downpour, the drought in Kona may be over, as the Westside track stars won their first scoring meet in recent memory edging Hilo by .25 points.
Ruedy won the 100 and 300 hurdles, 200 dash, placed second in the 100 and third in the long jump amassing 44 points for the lady Wildcats.
Not to be outdone Galdeira, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association basketball player of the year, won the 100 meter dash, long jump, finished second in the 100 hurdles, and tied for third in the high jump scoring 31.3 individual points.
What’s even more notable is that Galdeira, better know for her on the court basketball skills, needed to be talked into coming out for track this season by the Wildcat coaching staff.
“I still have a lot to learn about technique in doing the hurdles,” Galdeira said. “The rest of the events are easy as all I need to know is to pump my arms and go. I don’t think about anything.”
Galdeira demonstrated her great leaping ability as she hit a 16’ 8.5” mark with her lead foot clearly 10 inches behind the marking board.
Galdeira’s long jump established herself as the number two in the state and the junior clearly has not seen a full potential.
“I’m having fun doing track and the 100 dash is my favorite,” she said. “All I have to do is go.”
Sophomore teammate Ruedy placed fourth in the state last year in the 300 hurdles, but prefers the 100 hurdles as her premier event.
“My favorite is the 100 hurdles as it is quicker and much more interesting,” Ruedy said. “It’s all about technique and good form and the 100 is much shorter than the 300,” she said with a wide grin.
Last season Ruedy didn’t try the 100 hurdles and her focus was on just running the 300.
“I’m hoping to win the state in the 300 hurdles and improve my times in the other sprint races,” she said. “I also think we have a good chance of winning the BIIF team title this year.”
One of the Konawaena coaches, Kuulei Karratti Saole is a former HHSAA sprint champion winning the gold medal in the 100 dash for Kau in 2003 while medaling in the long and triple jumps.
“It’s all about giving back to the community in a sport that I love,” Coach Saole said.
On the far end on the track infield it was Hilo’s Shina Chung showcasing her ability to leap over tall buildings.
The two time BIIF pole vault champion Chung cleared the bar at 10’ 3” to put her as the number one vaulter in the state at this point in the season.
“I’m trying to just hit a PR (personal record) by clearing 10’ 8” this season,” she said. “I’m using a 12’ 1” pole which is made for someone that weighs 125 pounds.”
During the offseason Chung kept busy running stairs and doing drills and bio mechanics in order to maintain her high ranking in the event.
“I feel a lot of pressure as I want to repeat as BIIF champ and also improve on my fifth place state finish last year,” Chung said.
In the distance events it was Hawaii Repertory’s Zoe Sims coming out fast in both the 1500 and 3000 meter events to establish herself as the person to beat in those events.
“I wanted to hit my split times in both events, but I was a little off in the middle laps,” Sims said.
Sims ran an impressive 5 minutes 16.5 seconds in the 1500 and came back with an 11:47.02 in the 3K to win both easily.
“My goal was to run a 5:08 in the 1500,” she said. “I hit my splits during the first and fourth laps, but fell off goal pace during the middle laps which is something I’ll need to push harder in the future.”
For the boys it was an Kamehameha 4×100 relay team that ran picture perfect clocking 45.97 seconds.
Kealii Naauao, Kaenen “Aukai” Akau, Zarion “Kama” Vincent and Tavon Pegues didn’t come into the meet confident that they could pull out the relay victory.
“We were having trouble dropping the baton all week in practice,” Vincent said. “Our number 3 and 4 kept having trouble holding onto the stick.”
The Warriors pulled off a good team effort without anyone dropping the baton and their quick sprint speed was enough to hold off a talented Kealakehe squad.
The Waveriders held a narrow lead going into the final turn when Pegues took the exchange and ran down his opponent to take the narrow win.
The Warriors have six sprinters battling for the four top spots on their relay team, according to Coach Kimo Weaver, which will make for an exciting competition to see who will end up representing the school at the end of the season.
Newbie freshman, Raskassa Johnson from Hilo made his debut performance on the track and managed to turn a few heads in the 200 dash.
Johnson, a transfer from the Hawaiian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Pahoa, had never run track prior to making his debut on Saturday took second in the 200 dash, clocking 24.31 seconds to Kealakehe winner Dylan Navarro’s 23.05.
“I came out for track because I want to get faster for football,” Johnson said. “I played running back on the junior varsity team and I was told this would help me improve my speed.”
Johnson, who is still in the learning curve, has been given a crash course on getting out quickly.
“I’ve never stepped into the block until three weeks ago,” he said. “I feel the same passion for track as I do for football and I know I’m getting faster.”
The BIIF season will continue Saturday with a split meets as Kamehameha host the East schools and HPA will host the West. Field events begin at 9 am with the running venue starting at 10am.