Ewaliko Helps Baldwin Win Second State Track Title
By Rodney S. Yap
Even with a bruised shoulder from the trials, Baldwin High School’s Keelan Ewaliko carried the Bears to its second straight Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Championship Saturday at Mililani High School by a quarter point over Punahou, 66.25 to 66.
Ewaliko, showed the 50th state why the University of Hawaii Warrior football team is anxious to suit up the Baldwin speedster in the fall, winning the 100 (11.05), 200 (22.16) and anchoring the team’s 4 x 100 relay team.
“My shoulder is sore and my hamstring is a little sore,” said Ewaliko after winning the 200 in 22.16 seconds. “It’s a good feeling to win, but it comes at a price. I felt good in the 200. I could have pushed more, but I started to get tight at about the halfway mark and I thought it was better to play it safe and maintain the lead, so I just relaxed and maintained the speed that I had.”
“Going into the 100 was just a matter of being focused and calming your nerves and not worrying about anybody but yourself.”
Ewaliko won the 100 over Avery Hardie-Johnson of Kealakehe, 11.06 to 11.17.
Baldwin’s other gold medalists who successfully ran to a head wind were Abraham Reinhardt in the 110 high hurdles and Tyler Feiteira in the 300 intermediates.
The Bears contributed to the drama surrounding the boys team title by falling short of expectations in:
* The discus and shot with Miki Fangatua missing the cut. Fangatua was ranked second in the discus and fifth in the shot going into Friday’s trials.
* The long jump with Ewaliko getting disqualified for foul language after posting the a trial’s best jump of 22 feet, 3.50 inches.
* The pole vault, where Feiteira was the state’s top-ranked vaulter at 14-6, but finished tied for sixth with three other vaulters at 13-0.
“We went back and regrouped,” Ewaliko said. “We realized that we still could win. Each one of us who qualified knew what we had to do and we tried to get it done to the best of our abilities. Everyone contributed, it wasn’t only me, its the whole team. No matter how much points each person gets, everything helped.”
Particularly Jordan Piano’s four points for fourth place in the 300 intermediates and Dusty Flores’ four points for fourth place in the pole vault at 13-6.
“It was crazy, crazy close. But we knew it was going to come down to the wire,” said Baldwin head coach Ardis Anguay. “We did the numbers after the trials and we had a good team meeting before the meet. Everybody knew what they had to do, but we still need some of the guys to step up and we got help from guys like Dusty and Jordan. Obviously we got a strong effort from Keelan, but it was a total team effort.
“With the challenges we had, everybody had to do their part. I wasn’t keeping score because it stresses me out. But during the 4 x 4 relay they were already announcing it on OC16 because I was getting texts from my friends and family on Maui who were watching on TV that we had won by a quarter of a point.”
Reinhardt got the Bears off to a good start by winning the high hurdles, one of three races where half of the eight-lane field were made up of Maui Interscholastic League runners. He was clocked in 15.07 despite hobbling through the finish line when he heard his hamstring “pop” going over the second to last hurdle.
Kamehameha Maui’s Connor Yap was third in the highs at 15.51, followed by Feiteira in 15.54.
In the 300 intermediates, Feiteira’s 40.03 held off previously unbeaten Griffin Saunders of Punahou (40.23) and Damien’s Leejay Lauti (40.18).
“I couldn’t control it, God didn’t want it to happen, so it didn’t happen,” Feiteira said of the pole vault. “But he gave me the strength and power in the 300s to win. After I went out in the pole vault I kind of had a little breakdown, I’m not going to lie, but my boys were there to help me and that pulled me through.”
Ewaliko’s ability to rebound from the snafu at the long jump on Friday served as inspiration to his teammates.
“I slammed into the track (on his third trials jump) and no one even helped me,” Ewaliko said of the meet officials, who heard him cuss in anger. “They just watched me roll around and grab my shoulder. You can’t do anything about it now, it’s done, it is what it is. I believe that things happen for a reason, I get DQ’d in the long jump, but maybe I will do better in my other events but it’s really sad and it’s hard to get focused again because it really hurts.”
Joining Ewaliko on the Bears’ winning 400 relay team were Dylan Leigh, Gerard Nakamura and Aaron Marzan. The team was clocked in 42.58, with King Kekaulike’s quartet of Jansen Agapay, Corry Brown, Jordan Romero and Jay Braun finishing second in 43.02.
Braun anchored the race for Kekaulike and finished second to Ewaliko in the 200 (22.54). Kamehameha Maui’s Jamal Jones was fifth in the 200 (22.60) and third in the 100 (11.23).
“It was a good run,” Braun said of the 200. “I was behind at first but I kicked it in down the straightaway and used my form to catch up. It feels good to end the season on a good note. It’s good for our team, a small team, a tight group of guys coming together and getting third place.”
Na Alii finished a solid third in the boys team standings with 58.5 points.
Agapay won the long jump with a finals jump of 22-11.25.
“I just tried to go farther today,” Agapay said. “It feels good, especially after finishing second last year.”
“He’s a great kid and he listens to everything I ask him to do,” Kekaulike jump coach Aris Banaag said. “I told him I wanted big pop on that one. I wanted the whole board and I wanted a good clean finish where he was reaching into the pit and keeping his legs up.”
The other gold medal from King Kekaulike came in the 400 where sophomore Jake Jacobs went out hard and held his lead through the finish in 49.77.
“Oh man, that was a different kind of pain,” said Jacobs after the race. “It feels amazing because Logan (Ne of Kamehameha Kapalama) has been like an idol to me and I’ve been afraid of him this whole year. That’s what pushes me, I get scared easily.”
Nobody else from the 400 field ran under 50 seconds and Ne was sixth in 50.92.
“They did an outstanding job,” King Kekaulike head coach Jesse Henderson said of his boys team. “Everybody performed at a level that we wanted them to. I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s not a bad performance to finish third place with seven kids.”