Baldwin and King K the best boys track teams in the State of Hawaii
KEAAU, HAWAII – In the spirit of making Maui proud the Baldwin Bears and King Kekaulike dominated the Hawaii High School Athletic Association track and field championships by finishing first and second respectively for the boys team title.
“This is our first track state championship,” Bears Coach Ardis Anguay said.
The Bears scored points throughout most of the events on the oval with a well balanced team approach.
Who would have thought that throwing three fouls during the finals of the HHSAA discus field championships, would still award Baldwin’s Paoni Tasini a state individual championship.
Tasini’s monster throw of 171-04 on Friday carried over into the finals and it was good enough for the Bear to be crowned discus champion.
Maui Interscholastic League athletes showed their mettle during the two day state championship held Friday and Saturday on the Big Island.
On Friday, MIL boys were vaulting in the finals of the pole vault and ended up dominating the top three spots with Michael Teves of King Kekaulike being crowned the state champion, clearing 14 feet.
The MIL advanced 23 boys and 14 girls into Saturday’s finals and produced multiple state champions.
The heavy team favorites coming into the finals were the Bears and Coach Anguay was optimistic.
“We have a target on our backs,” Anguay said prior to the finals. “Our boys worked hard this season and if they do exactly what they are supposed to do we’ll be successful.”
Anguay, in her first year as head coach, was complimentary of her coaches and track parents.
“I have good coaches and I follow Gary Sanches who was our coach for the last 17 years,” Anguay said. “At this point we are most concerned with Punahou.”
With the rain appearing over the two day championships, Anguay felt that wouldn’t interfere with her team’s performance.
“The rain is typical of Hilo and shouldn’t matter in our boy’s performance,” Anguay said.
During the 110 hurdles Baldwin’s Vetekina Malafu added to the Bears total, finishing second and scoring 8 points.
“Every point counts,” Malafu said. “Our coach told us to go all out to win the team title.”
Malafu, a senior, had his best state finish and was optimistic about his team’s chances of bring home the gold.
“We know Punahou has a good team with a lot of depth” he said. “But we’re going to try our best.”
The big surprise came in the boys 4×100 meter relay as the Bears went against the top seeded team in Keaau.
Keaau took the early lead, but the gritty Bears kept a stride behind making the most of each baton handoff to pull out the hotly contested victory.
Leading off was Ryne Yokouchi, second leg Vetekkina Malafu, third leg Aaron Mamarzan and anchored by Keelan Ewalike.
“This was really big for us,” Ewalike said. “We are making Maui proud.”
The Bears won in 41.10 seconds with Keaau having a baton miscue on their second leg to finish in 43.95.
“We didn’t want to be cocky,” Ewaliko said. “We had the confidence to win the relay as we worked hard during practice and it paid off.”
Baldwin’s diversity extended to all facets of the competition with Miki Fangatua launching a discus into the evening sky to win the event.
“I had a good feeling coming into the championships,” Fangatua said.
Fangatua scored a total of 18 points for the Bears with his second place shot put toss.
“My technique is off and I need to work on my spin,” he said. “We should have a good night and hopefully everybody pulls together and makes it happen.”
Ewaliko was back on the track in the 200 meter dash and added another gold medal and 10 additional points in the Bears quest for the team title.
Baldwin’s heavy firepower with their boys had them pull away in the final events of the evening to bring them a state title with King Kekaulike taking second.
Seabury’s Dakota Grossman was the queen of distance running, winning both the 1500 and 3000 meter races and in the process unseeded the defending 1500 state champ, Hawaii Preps Zoe Sims.
“I liked were I was in the 1500 and with the girls I was running with I managed to run my personal best,” Grossman said. “I ran a 4:43 and pulled the race out in the final 50 meters.”
In the 3K Grossman was equally impressive and outdistanced the field to dominate as the sophomore showed things to come.
Maui High Nicola Perez-Garreaud the defending champ in the 1500 and 3K decided to focus on the 3K only this year.
“I knew if I only ran the 3K I would have a better chance of winning because of the depth and quality of the runners in the 15,” he said.
“I was super nervous before the race and felt weird,” he said. “I calmed down during the race with each lap and I was going for the win and didn’t care about my time because I was just giving it my all.”
Following the announcement of the top boys team Anguay was proud of her team’s effort.
“These kids deserve it as it was a team effort for sure,” she said. “As the head coach I just delegate to my coaches and they are the ones that make it happen.”
The only weak spot that Anguay could point to was the boy’s high jump.
“The high jump is one area that we had no one entered in,” she said. “All in all we had a great effort and I’m very proud of them.”
For King Kekaulike it was a surprise runner up position for the boy’s team title.
“This is our highest finish at a state track meet,” Coach James Alger said. “We never expected this and it exceeds our expectations.”
Alger and his team were headed to the exits prior to the announcement of the top boy’s teams and were asked to return before the awards were announced.
“The kids worked hard and we beat Punahou by one point,” Coach Alger said. “For us this is a real surprise.”
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