TRACK & FIELD
Chad Miyamoto won the Hawaii's Fastest Human contest in a photo finish at the Punahou Relays yesterday.
Maui teams rule at relays
With the state track and field championships just around the corner, several high school competitors took full advantage with standout warm-up performances at yesterday's Punahou Relays.
More than 1,200 athletes representing 30 schools participated in the 62nd running of the event in which Maui schools won three of the 16 events.
The Baldwin girls, led by June Ann Lusk, crossed the finish line first in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relay races, and King Kekaulike took the top honors in the boys 1,600 sprint medley race.
Baldwin won the 4x100 relay race with a combination of Lusk, Maile Thomas, Brittany Feiteria and Cheyna Tallant in 49.86 seconds. Lusk, along with Thomas, Feiteria and Ayesha Pladera, won the 4x400 relay race with a time of 4:05.79, more than 5 seconds better than second-place Kamehameha.
Eli Smith, Max Ross, Jesse Henderson and Reid Hunter were the members of King Kekaulike's winning boys 1,600 sprint medley team with a time of 3:45.14. It was more than 9 seconds better than runner-up Iolani.
The two Maui teams said the experience of racing in the Punahou event will help them in preparation for the state championship meet, which will take place at Maui's War Memorial Stadium, May 18-19.
"This is our second trip to Oahu this season," said Lusk, named the meet's most outstanding female competitor. "We are using this meet to prepare our team for the states. We don't get opportunities on Maui to compete against this many different runners, so I feel that the experience was great for us."
Lusk, a senior, was a member of both relay teams, and placed second in the girls long jump.
"Winning the relays here will give us so much confidence and help us mentally in knowing that we can compete against the bigger schools," she added.
Thomas agreed with Lusk that the meet was an excellent learning experience for future races.
"This meet will help us out a lot. It shows us who the competition is and gives us ideas of what we need to do to get better," Thomas said.
"I think we work pretty good as a team," said Feiteira, who ran the final leg in both relay victories. "We really came together as a team. Everybody worked hard in trying their best."
"I love being over here on Oahu competing," Pladera, a freshman, said. "But most of all, I learned what it is like to run against a lot of different teams."
"We don't usually have all of this competition over on Maui," King Kekaulike's Henderson added. "Being here helps us know what's going on in the rest of the state."
Oahu teams gave the large crowd some exciting moments as well.
Kamehameha's girls 4x180 shuttle hurdle team of Savannah Wolfe, Kylee Ann Ah Choy, Alana Durrett and Alana Meditz broke the meet record with a 1:06.6 finish.
Mililani's D'Andre Benjamin was named the most outstanding male competitor based on his performances in helping his team win the 4x200 and 4x100 relays. Benjamin also placed second in the boys long jump.
The closest race of the event was the 100-meter "Hawaii's Fastest Human," as Chad Miyamoto narrowly edged Shawn Nakata in a photo finish in 11.10.
"I saw him (Nakata) out of the corner of my eye at the last moment, so I knew the race was close. Fortunately, I leaned at the end," Miyamoto said.
A teacher at Soto Academy, Miyamoto recalls last year's race, when he injured his leg competing in the preliminary races.
"I remember lying on the track last year for 5 minutes during trials. I sat right there (pointing to a seat at the finish line) watching the final race," he said.
"It's hard to come back from an injury, but I was determined to come back. The sport of track in Hawaii is growing and I try to help other runners train as much as I can."
"I love this race," said Nakata, a teacher at Leilehua High. "Even though I didn't win, I know there are a lot of good athletes at this meet today and I'm just happy to be a part of this meet."