HIGH SCHOOL RIFLERY
CRAIG KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Danielle Pontes helped Sacred Hearts win the girls team title at the state air riflery championships yesterday.
Sacred Hearts and Punahou seize state air riflery titles
Muratsuchi and Gollero snare the individual crowns
Don't blame Jordan Muratsuchi if he feels a bit awkward this week.
Even wearing his championship medal, the Mid-Pacific junior seemed a bit removed from his remarkable feat. Muratsuchi, who placed sixth at the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships, rose above the pressure and won the boys individual title in the Civilian Marksmanship Program Air Riflery State Championships yesterday at the Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall.
Muratsuchi finished first among the boys with a score of 529, but so did Scott Hong of Punahou. Muratsuchi won the tiebreaker, which is the point total of the last 10 shots of the event. Those were taken in the kneeling category.
"Coach (Lincoln Jong) helped a lot. He corrected my position. I used to be off-balance," said Muratsuchi, who did not qualify for states last year. "I made some mistakes (today), but I had some good shots."
Runner-up Hong found more than a little consolation, though, as his Buffanblu team won the team championship for a second year in a row.
Jolana Gollero of Pearl City captured the girls individual championship with a score of 527. Gollero, a senior who also won the Oahu Interscholastic Association crown, is the first state champion from the OIA in eight years.
Sacred Hearts, meanwhile,
made Alan Tokumura's return to head coaching a triumphant one. Tokumura, who was a head coach at McKinley in the early 1970s, left his longtime post as an assistant coach at Punahou in August. The Lancers have now won five state titles in the brief eight-year existence of the tournament.
The boys battle, both in team and individual points, was filled with challenges once the shooting was done. While Muratsuchi claimed his title, Punahou barely got past Waiakea, the 2004 team champion. The Buffanblu finished with 2,072 points to Waiakea's 2,070.
"It's been a lot of practice," Hong said as his teammates cackled. The senior spent much of the summer glued to his gun, but made it to practice only four times in the past four weeks. "I've been doing college apps (applications). A lot of essays."
Coach Karen Finley had hoped for a repeat by both her boys and girls teams, but was pleased nonetheless.
"I'm not surprised about our boys. They've been fluctuating as far as individual performances, but the team has done well all season."
Gollero finished 15th in the state as a sophomore and improved to a fifth-place performance last year.
"I knew she had potential," veteran coach Lester Aranaydo said. "She practiced once a week during the summer, and she's improved in all positions. Steady improvement. I'm proud of her."
Gollero downplayed her achievement.
"My score is lower than last year by two points. I wasn't expecting to do well after I saw my score for standing," Gollero said. "I was a little nervous at the beginning, but after we started shooting, it all went away."
Gollero, who has a 4.3 grade-point average, also competes in wrestling and judo. Aranaydo also coached her in wrestling before he retired from the sport recently.
"Coach helped me a lot. I don't think I would've done as good with another coach," she said.
The Sacred Hearts girls -- Mai Oseto (522), Samantha Niver (517), Jenna Wojcik (514) and Danielle Pontes (508) -- were gratified about the team victory. Oseto wasn't excited about her fifth-place finish, but was more than happy with the win for Sacred Hearts.
"Individually, we didn't shoot our best, but I got to use my old (gas) gun," Oseto said. "Gas" guns were banned last year and don't require constant pumping.
All four Lancers are juniors, but they're already looking forward to summer practices and defending the title.
"Last year, we were even with Punahou all season. Then, at states, they blew us away," Wojcik recalled.
That experience helped Sacred Hearts this time around.
"Mentally, I was pretty prepared. I wasn't freaking out," Niver said. "When you're calm, your heart isn't beating a lot more. When you're calm, your position is stable."