Punahou Favorite to Defend Girls Track Championships
By Rodney S. Yap
The Maui Interscholastic league has never won the girls state track and field championships, although Seabury Hall finished three points shy of that accomplishment a year ago and Baldwin enjoyed three consecutive runner-up finishes between 2005-2007.
Punahou remains the reason no MIL team has yet to hoist the championship hardware. In fact, few teams other than the Buffanblu can claim bragging rights to the girls championship, having won seven of the last eight team titles, 13 of the last 16, and 33 since the meet start 45 years ago.
So it’s no surprise that the Punahou girls are strong favorites to add to their long-standing tradition when the Island Movers State Track and Field Championships get underway today at Kea’au High School on the Big Island. Field events begin at noon, while the first running event is at 3:15 p.m. The finals are slated for Saturday.
Baldwin, Konawaena, Seabury Hall, and Mililani are among the challengers, but Punahou’s depth and overall talent should prevail. The only question is how lopsided will the final outcome be?
For the most part, Punahou figures to score between 60 and 80 points, while the rest of the scoring is spread out.
“Athough this is probably one of the best teams we’ve ever had, Punahou has too much numbers,” said Baldwin girls coach Keoni Tengan, who would be satisfied finishing in the top 10.
“For us we are trying to scrap and make everyone run the maximum events, while Punahou always seems to pull it out. If you look at their performances over the years, they managed to qualify girls in every event it seems and they all seem to score.”
Baldwin’s ace is multi-event performer Kristine Felix, who a year ago concentrated on the pole vault and set a meet record of 12 feet, 6 inches. This year, the senior will defend her title in the vault on Saturday, but will be even busier at the trials today.
Felix will attempt to qualify in the long jump, the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay.
“It’s important for her to defend her title in the pole vault, but she also wants to try her best in the other events.”
Baldwin’s Kristine Felix is ranked No. 5 at 12.51 in the 100-meter dash.
With the top two finishers advancing to the finals Felix is the only MIL girl with a shot of making the finals barring any major scratches among the top 20 qualifiers. During the MIL season, Felix was not really challenged and enters the trials undefeated on the year having posted her best time in her most recent race.
Junior Raion Black of Christian Academy is the defending champion at 12.28, while Konawaena hurdler/sprinter Emalia Galdeira was third in 12.40. Galdeira, a senior, has a season best of 12.54 while Black easily won the ILH championship in 12.55.
Pearl City sophomore Diamond Briscoe is the state’s top qualifier at 12.31. However, Briscoe finished runner-up to Leilehua sophomore hurdler/sprinter Kayla Mitchell at the OIA championships, 12.35 to 12.40. Radford’s Tyler Whitener finished sixth at state last year in 12.70 and finished fourth at the OIA championships in 12.44. Farrington senior Shayna Oliver (12.43) round out the OIA’s top four in the event.
In the 200, Briscoe is No. 1 at 25.21 and won the OIA title two weeks ago in 25.24, followed by Oliver in 26.01 (No. 4). Black is seeded No. 2 in 25.62 and is the top returning 200 finisher from last year (25.33; 3rd). Meanwhile, Whitener has been clocked in 25.76 (No. 3).
Felix is seeded No. 8 in 26.51 and would run in heat one against Briscoe, barring any scratches. Moanalua junior Jasmine McNair, third-place finisher at the OIA championships (25.60), would push Felix for the second spot.
Seabury Hall sophomore Alyssa Bettendorf is currently No. 10 at 26.61 and will challenge to make the finals, she would run in Black’s heat.
In the 400, Black has the No. 1 seeded time and the only sub-58 second time this year at 57.80. However, Scared Hearts senior Alexis Damo beat Black at the ILH Championships, 58.75 to 58.77. Damo’s winning time has her seeded No. 3 in the event.
As a freshman last year, Briscoe finished third (58.98) behind Hawaii Prep Academy’s Zoe Sims (58.62). Briscoe has already run faster at 58.13 and recently won the OIA championships in 58.60. Radford’s Whitener was runner-up at the league championships in 59.65 and is ranked No. 5.
MIL champion Dylan Ross of Seabury Hall is No. 15 at 61.06. Ross was not challenged during the MIL season and can go faster. She will probably need to run in the 59s to earn a spot in the finals and mid 59s to medal.
Felix is No. 1 in the state at 18-1.5, a mark she set in early March. Although she has not hit the 18-foot mark recently, she has consistently jumped in the mid-17s. Konawaena’s Galdeira is seeded No. 2 at 17-11.75, while Punahou’s Tori Houston is third at 17-6 and Sacred Hearts Academy’s Kayla Kirk is next at 17-5.5. Baldwin’s Amber Kozaki is fifth at 17-3.75.
The other Punahou jumper in the mix is Christine Tsai seeded seventh at 17-2. Meanwhile, Kamehameha Maui’s Makana Pundyke is No. 11 at 16-8.5.
In the triple jump, Punahou’s Tsai is seeded third at 36-6.5, behind Galdeira (36-7.5) and Baldwn’s Pelemarie Buka, who owns the best jump this year at 36-8. The Buffanblu’s other jumper, Carly Kan is seeded sixth (35-9.5), while Baldwin’s next best is Amber-Lei Madriaga at 34-4.75.
Tsai is the defending state champion in the event, landing a winning jump of 36-10.75 last year. Galdeira was fifth (35-8.75).
Tsai figures to score in all three jumps as she is the top returning high jumper at 5-4. Her 5-foot jump last year earned her a tie for fourth place.
Kamehameha Maui’s Raven Poepoe is the MIL’s top qualifier and only competitor to clear 5 feet this year. Poepoe is seeded tied for fourth with seven others at 5-0.
Mililani has a pair of jumpers who have gone 5-2 in Sarah Almeida and Amber Camody. Punahou’s second high jumper is Alyssa Endo at 5-0.
The Lady Bears’ most dominate event. Felix is the two-time defending state champion and meet record holder at 12-6. Kozaki earned a silver medal last year, clearing 12-feet.
The pair are currently seeded 1-2 with Kozaki topping Felix, 12-3 to 12-0. Punahou’s Sammy Marumoto is third at 11-7.
800 / DISTANCE
Ross finished second in the 800 last year at state in 2:25.04. She is currently 17th in 2:28.60 as seven girls have already gone faster than Ross’ runner-up time from a year ago.
Head and shoulders above the competition is Iolani senior Breanne Ball at 2:14.14. Ball is the defending champion (2:17.19) and won the ILH championships by more than seven seconds. Her only challenger on paper is Sims of HPA (2:16.67).
Because Ball has been so dominate in this event the last year, figure on a handful of girls scratching this event in favor of perhaps a more wide open 1,500 race. Others like Ross and Damo will concentrate on the shorter 400.
The finals will be made up of Neighbor Island runners, particularly from the the Big Island, and ILH runners.
The bulk of the qualifiers (16) in the 800 have run between 2:25.0 and 2:30.90. Seabury Hall freshman Kiana Smith has the MIL’s top qualifying time at 2:26.04 (10th), followed by teammate Dakota Grossman at 2:26.71 (12th). Depending on the number of scratches, Smith should make the finals — and possibly medal.
The 1,500 and 3,000 are the events you can expect Seabury Hall to shine in. The Spartans have the defending state champion in the 3,000 in sophomore Dakota Grossman. She is currently seeded No. 1 in the event at 10:44.00. Lahainaluna sophomore Sydney Mckinney is No. 3 at 11:01.03. Baldwin’s Alicia Morris-Schmidthan, Aubri Belen and Annette Kinchiro are seeded 6th, 8th and 12th, respectively,
In the 1,500, Punahou’s Elli Brady is No. 1 at 4:47.58. She will be challenged by Sims (4:50.86) and Kristiana Van Pernis (4:55.23) of HPA, and Hilo’s Carmen Garson-Shumway (4:54.36) and Mehana Sabado-Halpern (5:03.59).
Seabury’s Smith (5:05.08) and Justine Malek (5:13.88) are also in the top 20.
DISCUS / SHOT PUT
Kekaulike junior Teianna Collins-Shirota is the MIL’s top seed at No. 4 (127-6). Collins-Shirota earned her PR at the MIL championships. Pac-5’s Hannah Sherrill is No. 1 at 159-9, more than 10 feet in front of the next best thrower, Kapolei’s Charlinda Ioane (147-5). Ioane is the defending state champion (138-0.5) in the event. Radford’s Chantell Taito is seeded third at 134-6.
Maui High’s Christina Lotulelei is No. 12 overall at 116-10.
In the shot put, Ioane of Kapolei is No. 1 at 46-5.5, five feet better than Sherrill (41-1.5). The two Oahu throwers finished sixth (36-10.25) and fifth (38-2), respectively last year.
Baldwin’s Alesha Martin tops all MIL throwers at 39-5.5, seeded No. 4. Lotulelei is at No. 6 (38-6.5) and Analea Martin of Baldwin is tied for 9th at 37-10. Maui’s Kalesita Anitema is close behind at 36-5.75.
Iolani’s Abrianna Johnson-Edwards owns the state’s best time at 14.52, which is faster than the current state meet record of 14.69. Johnson-Edwards finished second last year in 14.85. She will be challenged by Big Island champion Galdeira, who has a best of 14.73. Mitchell is next at 14.95.
Punahou’s best hurdler is 11th seeded Gabby Jamain, while Baldwin’s is sophomore Raeana Anguay, seeded 14th at 16.48.
The 300 hurdles will be a duel between Kona’s Ua Ruedy, who posted her season’s best last week in 45.61. Johnson-Edwards is second at 45.82, she led a furious championship pace at the ILH championships two weeks ago as third-seeded Megan Herndon of Punahou is at 46.74, followed by Hawaii Baptist Academy’s Kanoelani Yadao (46.94), and Island Pacific Academy’s Amirah Majied (47.12).
Seabury Hall’s Roxane Gaedeke is the MIL’s top qualifier at No. 8 (47.56), followed by Poepoe (47.80).
Punahou and Iolani are the top two teams in the state, The Buffanblu are No. 1 in the 4×100 (49.53), while the Red Raiders are No. 1 in the 4×400 at 4:01.25. iolani is second in the 400 at 49.62, while Punahou is second in the 1,600 at 4:02.79. The state meet record in the 4×400 is 4:00.08 and will be threatened on Saturday.
Radford, Pearl City, Leilehua and Kauai are among the other top contenders. Baldwin is seeded No. 9 in the 4×100 (50.90), while Seabury Hall is No. 8 in the 4×400 (4:11.93).