HIGH SCHOOL AIR RIFLERY
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's (from left) Robert Siko, Jon Onaga, Nathan Char and Scott Hong competed in the standing position round yesterday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
Buffanblu shoot to the top of state
Competition breeds excellence, especially for Punahou's sharpshooters.
The Buffanblu boys and girls teams, fueled by stiff competition from within, reached the pinnacle yesterday for coach Karen Finley. The boys, led by runner-up Robert Siko, won the school's first state air riflery championship in the brightly-lit confines of Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
The girls, paced by Simone Riford, won their first state crown since 2002.
Siko fell short in his quest for the individual boys title, finishing nine points behind Waiakea's Regan Ancheta. However, Punahou outpointed defending champion Waiakea 2,041-2,033.
The Buffanblu had three shooters finish in the Top 14, led by Siko's 531. Scott Hong placed fourth (515) and Jonathan Onaga was 14th (503). Nathaniel Char scored 492 for the Buffanblu, finishing tied for 21st.
There was plenty of drama before the outcome was decided.
"After the first printout, we were tied with Waiakea," Siko said. "We had challenge time and checked our targets."
The double-check revealed eight missing points for Punahou, an unusually high amount.
"If you asked me about whether we'd beat Waiakea before this, I'd say yeah," longtime Punahou assistant coach Alan Tokumura said. "But as the scores were coming in, I was real nervous."
For Siko, placing second was easy to accept thanks to a team title.
"I started freshman year," the senior said. "I was clearly not the best, but every year, I got better. Especially with Jon (Onaga) and our other teammates. We pushed each other. After four years, it's nice to go out like this."
Ancheta was philosophical in his team's runner-up finish.
"I'd rather have a team title than an individual one, but we only had two returnees," the senior said. "I hope they take it next year. I think it'll still be anybody's game."
Ancheta's ability to score well in the standing position -- the other two are prone and kneeling -- separated him from nearly every other shooter in the boys competition. He tallied a 169 standing, 10 points more than Siko.
"I struggled with standing when I started," Ancheta said. "When everyone practiced quarter-course, I asked coach if I could practice standing."
In the girls individual battle, Punahou teammates Riford and Heather Horn battled. Riford won with a score of 548, six points higher than Horn. It was quite an effort for Riford, who had struggled late in the season.
"Today, I was just thinking of execution instead of random things and little noises around me," Riford said. Catching up with schoolwork, she added, eliminated another distraction.
"Simone was in a slump," said Nakamura, who has coached at Punahou for 25 years. "She was worried about her performance here, but I told her she was due for a good performance and she came through. They all came through."
In addition to Riford and Horn, Rachel Tochiki came in fourth (530) and Cheryl Mukai added a 480 score for 29th.
"I'm really glad Simone won," said Horn, who won the state title last year. "She's my teammate and friend, so if anyone's gonna win besides me, I'm glad it was her."
Horn was a freshman on the Punahou team that won states three years ago.
"Our team has been working towards this for a long time," she said.