BIIF Royality Returns to the Track
The reigning King and Queen of prep track and field will step onto the all-weather oval this weekend when the Big Island Interscholastic Federation holds their season openers at Kamehameha-Keaau and Konawaena.
Kau’s Jacob Edwards and Hawaii Prep’s Ku’uipo Nakoa return to the track for their senior season as the 2009 male and female athletes of the year, respectively.
Last year Edwards won individual honors during the BIIF championships in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles and the triple jump while placing second in the long jump and fourth in the 200-meter dash to single handedly score 42 points for the Trojans.
Edwards went on to win the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championships in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles and placed fifth in the triple jump. For his efforts Edwards was selected as the Gatorade boy’s track and field athlete of the year for the State of Hawaii.
“I plan on coming out like a rocket again this year,” Edwards said of the upcoming season. “I’ve conditioned during the off season by running cross-country and I spent a lot of time strength training so I’m excited about starting the season.”
Despite not having a track to practice on at Kau, Edwards has managed to excel at just about everything he has entered. This season Kau’s long jump pit is under construction and Trojan coach Bob Martin drove Edwards to Kamehameha one day during Spring Break to practice at the Warriors field.
“I’ve set a lot of goals for myself in my senior season,” Edwards said while practicing at Kamehameha. “Once the season gets underway we’ll see what happens.”
Nakoa won the 200 dash, long and triple jumps and placed second in the 100-meter dash and scored 38 individual points and helped HPA finish first in the 1,600 relay and second in the 400 relay.
At the state championships Nakoa won the long jump, but it was a bitter sweet victory as she injured herself on the final jump and never totally recovered to do her remaining events.
“I was leading the long jump after my second try and my coach told me not to do a third jump, but I did anyway and that’s when I injured myself,” Nakoa said. “I went on to finish third in the triple and sixth in the 100.”
This year Nakoa comes in with a different attitude and the confidence that she can go further than in the past.
“In the past I’ve only really been focused on BIIF’s,” she said. “This year I want to place my focus on how far I can go at states. I plan on blocking everything out and concentrate on jumps while focusing on running the 400.”
Currently HPA is putting in a new all weather track which won’t be completed until the fall so Ka Makani athletes are training on makeshift areas and making do with what they have.
“My sprint coach, Brad Lau, is really helping me out as we’re looking for different places to do our workouts which have included running in the pastures and at the beach on the sand,” Nakoa said.
Waiakea’s Kaimi Scott returns for Waiakea as the defending 200 and 400-meter champion and looks to improve on his times this year.
“I’m focusing more on my form which will help me get faster,” he said. “The 200 is my strength, but I like running the 400 as well.”
The Waiakea boys are the two time BIFF 1600 relay champions and look to defend their title with a strong returning sprint core with the return of Owen Cooper, Travis Winters and Jacob St. George.
Last year three BIIF freshmen won individual titles with Keaau’s Randi Estrada winning the girls 400-meters and later took third place at the state championships. Hilo’s Shina Chung won the BIIF pole vault title and HPA’s Shane Brostek won the boys shot event.
Hilo High is the defending boy’s team champion winning last season by more than 60 points with Viking coach Bill McMahon winning his 18th team title (boys and girls combined) during his 19 years at the helm.
“I got some numbers this year, but most of the team is real green,” McMahon said. “We’re just going to have to see what happens as the season progresses.”
The Kamehameha girl’s team beat out a tough HPA squad to claim the title and another showdown between the two schools looks to be brewing once again this year.
“We are trying to keep the ball rolling,” Kamehameha coach Kimo Weaver said. “Our team goals are to better our times/marks each week, be in contention for the league title and improve on our number of state qualifiers.”
The Warrior girls will again face stiff opposition from a large and talented HPA squad for this year’s team title.
“We are stocked with good freshman distance runners, most from the BIIF girl’s champion cross-country team,” HPA coach Pat Lau said. “We have roughly 85 athletes on the track team and 61 are girls.”
Other top returning BIIF track & field athletes to watch this season are:
Hilo: Cameron Calistro, hurdles, Shalila De Bourmont, distance.
Honokaa: Tialana Greenwell, Athena Oldfather, Chris Mosch, and Joshua Robinson distance.
HPA: Hanna Scully, sprints, Kela Vargas, distance, Sydney Budde, pole vault, Lana Queen, hurdles & jumps, Mindy Campbell, high jump and Tyler Tsubota, distance.
Kamehameha: ‘Io Heaukulani, sprints & high jump; Kaopuanani Sutton, throws; Bronte Kaneakua, sprints; Natasha Ah Chong; Hiilani Evans-Bautista jumps; Corin Kim, mid distance; Manta Dirks jumps, and Kaenan Akau, sprints & jumps; Maka McKee hurdles.
Keaau: Daniel Brooks, mid distance, Jesse Huihui, sprints and jumps.
Kealakehe: Walter Luca, mid distance.
Kohala: Ethan Meikle, high jump.
Waiakea: Kaitlyn Chock mid distance and Erika Cushnie, high jump.
The BIIF Track & Field season kicks off on Saturday, March 27, with East/West meets at Kamehameha-Keaau and Konawaena starting at 9 am.