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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, May 12, 2000

P R E P _ S P O R T S

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Kamehameha's Houston Ala delivers a discus.
He took first in the trials.

Simms shines
in trials

Brothers Brandon and
Houston Ala jump-start
Kamehameha at state
track and field meet

Results in Scoreboard

By Dave Reardon


Kamehameha's boys hope a little sibling rivalry gets them off to a good start in the Island Movers state track and field championship finals tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at Mililani.

Meanwhile, the Trojans' Vera Simms was at her brilliant best in yesterday's trials as she positioned Mililani for a possible first-ever state title with two new records in the hurdle events.

Most neighbor island squads lack enough depth to make a serious run at either team title, but Hilo's boys -- tops in both relays yesterday -- have a chance. Kimo Keiter-Charles, the Vikings' all-state basketball player, showed he's pretty fast without a basketball in his hands, too; he qualified first in the 100 at 11.03 seconds.

Other individuals stood out: Kaahumanu Hou's Ryan Schmidt appeared ready to leap to three golds, and sprinters Terrance Taylor of Maui and Lauran Dignam of Iolani also impressed.

Punahou remains in the hunt for its fifth-consecutive boys' and girls' championships. And the Buffanblu have some star power of their own, as Victoria Chang finishes up one of the most impressive distance running careers in Hawaii high school history.

Even if Brandon and Houston Ala place 1-2 in the discus as expected, the boys' meet will probably come down to the final event, the 4x400 relay.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Iolani's Leigh Hamakawa goes up in practice.
She qualified for the finals.

After yesterday's trials, unofficial projections give the Warriors a slight edge to win their first state championship since 1994.

But it's very close: Mililani, Punahou and Hilo are all just an individual's over-achievement or opponent's mishap away from a possible title.

The Ala brothers seem the closest thing to a sure bet.

Houston, a senior, launched a 173-foot, 9-inch discus effort yesterday that he gets to take into the finals as the top mark.

The only one in legitimate striking range is sophomore Brandon, who flung it 164-7.

"Teammates can push each other in these events and there's a little sibling rivalry there. It doesn't hurt either that their oldest brother (Tui) is helping to coach them," Kamehameha weight-events coach Bryan Gusman said. "Both of them are the total package. They've got technique, the right state of mind, and work ethic."

Houston Ala is also in good position to pick up at least three more points in the shot put.

Punahou counts on continued excellence from shot putter Parker Smith, pole vaulter Grant Shoji, distance man Todd Iacovelli, and picking up stray points here and there.

"We have a shot. That's all we could ask for," said Punahou captain David Hu, who qualified third in the 300 intermediate hurdles. "It will come down to the 4x400."

Hilo's team of Dayson Tiagongco, Keiter-Charles, Ikaika Ho and Jonathon Peralto were fastest yesterday, at 3:29.16.

Kamehameha was a blink behind at 3:29.25, and Mililani ran a 3:30.34 despite a terrible pass.

Robby Philipp, the recipient of the bad hand-off, didn't attempt his trademark 3,000-meter, 4x400 back-to-back in the trials. Coach Shane Akamine said he let Philipp decide.

A fresh Philipp -- also expected to score heavily in the 1,500 and 800 -- could make the difference, since relay points are double those for individual events.

There was an air of disappointment when the girls' 1,500 trials were canceled: it meant one less chance to see Chang perform.

But she made up for it in the 3,000, taking advantage of a light rain to lap the entire field on the way to a 9:48.39, a little more than five seconds off her state-meet record of last year.

"I didn't think about records at all," she said. "After the 1,500 got canceled I just wanted to run a hard race."

Tomorrow, Chang goes for her fourth-consecutive state championship in the two distance events.

That gives Punahou a nearly guaranteed 12 points, plus six more from Pippa Macdonald in the 800. But it probably won't be enough to off-set Simms.

The Mililani senior ran 14.97 in the 100 hurdles to break the one-year old record of Punahou's Sara Yap (15.01). A few minutes later, Simms jetted to a 12.28 in the 100, but Cassie Coffin's 12.32 record (St. Anthony, 1999) stands, because Simms' heat ran in a four-mph wind.

Undaunted, Simms broke her own meet record in the 300 low hurdles, the new mark of 42.80 shaving .96 off of last year's showing.

She also anchored the meet's two best relays, and qualified second in the long jump.

With the records and qualifying out of the way, Simms said she can now concentrate more on the team.

"I was trying to run really hard today so I wouldn't have added pressure (for records) in the finals," Simms said.

"I think our chances are good. There were a few minor disappointments, but overall we did pretty good."

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