HIGH SCHOOL KAYAKING
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani sophomore Marisa Why celebrated yesterday after winning in the ILH championship at the Ala Wai Canal.
Punahou, Iolani take ILH kayak titles
Punahou claimed its second consecutive boys title at yesterday's Interscholastic League of Honolulu Kayaking Championships held at the Ala Wai Canal. The Buffanblu earned 36 points, followed by Mid-Pacific with 77.
Eric Abbott helped anchor Punahou by winning the 2,000-meter distance race for the second year in a row. The senior finished in 9 minutes, 8.5 seconds, easily ahead of Kamehameha's Kaihe Chong (9:31.92) and Le Jardin's Kirk Mueller (9:34.97).
"It feels great; it's awesome to do it twice in a row," Abbott said. "I'm proud of how hard we worked as a team this year."
Abbott is also a member of the U.S. Canoe & Kayak Junior National Team and will participate in the 2006 U.S. National Championships next summer in Atlanta. In this past summer's championships, he won gold medals in seven of the eight events he entered.
He attributes his success to "the help of Coach Wes (Luke) pushing me every day (in practice) to make sure that I stay on top of my game as well as improving for the next level."
Mid-Pacific's Ben Creps prevailed in the 250-meter sprint race with a winning mark of 1:01.18. He was followed very closely by a pair of Punahou paddlers: Mark Towill (1:01.91) and Dustin Gaessner (1:02.41).
"My strategy was to go really hard at the start, and then kind of catch my breath in the middle, and get a strong finish," Creps said. "It's a mental thing. Once you get that advantage (from a good start), it's easier to hold onto the lead."
Iolani came away with the girls championship, dethroning Punahou, which had won the title for three years running. The Raiders gathered 43 points, to finish ahead of the Buffanblu's 49.
"We started out with a young team, and a lot of them showed promise, so I knew we had a chance to beat Punahou," said Iolani girls coach Eric Chun. "So with that in mind, we just kept pushing the girls and they came through today. I'm just really proud of them."
Marisa Why won the 2,000-meter race for Iolani in 10 minutes, 54.24 seconds. Silver and bronze medals went to Punahou's Rosie Scott (11:12.91) and Pac-Five's Kathryn Huntsman (11:16.74), respectively.
"I got a really nice start, and I just remembered to keep my head up, use long strokes, and not to think about the other paddlers around me," Why said.
Kamehameha's Kilty Inafuku was victorious in the girls 250-meter race, just ahead of Iolani's Krista Speroni (1:17.47) and Punahou's Shannon Tyau (1:17.98).