Na Alii and Na Menehune capture OIA golf team championships
Campbell's Haku Maluenda won the Oahu Interscholastic Association boys individual golf championship and Roosevelt's Haaheo Manini-Hewlen captured her second straight girls title with impressive performances on the back nine of yesterday's final round at Leilehua Golf Course.
Aiea, anchored by Katrina Higa, Natasha Fong and Michaela Mendiola, won the girls team title with a score of 592. Kalani led after the opening round with a 267, but lost the chance to win the team title when a player failed to show yesterday for the tourney.
Tyler Shimomura, David Saka, Christian Agosto and Joshua Valliere led Moanalua to the boys team crown with a score of 631.
Maluenda carded a 72 yesterday to finish with an even-par 144 to win handily for the boys. He trailed Castle's Jesse Aulelava until the 10th hole when he chipped in for birdie to take the lead.
Maluenda extended his advantage on the next hole with another birdie. The senior kept adding to his lead over the final seven holes to win by eight strokes.
Three golfers -- Aulelava, Ryan Nagata and Shimomura -- finished tied for second place in the boys individual competition with a score of 152.
Manini-Hewlen, on the other hand, was locked in an intense battle with Kalani's Nicole Sakamoto throughout the tournament. The defending OIA champion trailed Sakamoto by five strokes entering the final round before shooting a second consecutive 79 for a two-day total of 158. She beat Sakamoto, who fired an 85 yesterday, by a single stroke.
Third place in the girls individual competition went to Maryssa Shigesato of Mililani (166), followed by Roosevelt's Natalie Nakamine (167).
"I told her to just continue to play the best that she can, and that if she did, anything could happen," said Richardson Manini, grandfather of Manini-Hewlen.
Following her grandfather's advice, Manini-Hewlen began the morning by playing her way back into contention, recording two pars on the first two holes, and from there showed consistency the rest of the front nine to card a 39 compared to Sakamoto's total of 42.
On the 12th hole, Manini-Hewlen evened the score and managed to take the lead on the 13th hole after a triple bogey by Sakamoto. Over the next five holes, Sakamoto played brilliantly in an effort to regain the lead, but Manini-Hewlen kept pace to narrowly secure the victory.
Defending her title was extremely hard, Manini-Hewlen said after the tournament.
"It was tough this year," she said. "Sakamoto came out good. She's a great player. But winning the title wasn't as easy as last year. I had to really believe I could win. I came out here this morning thinking that I needed to just focus only on having fun golfing. I knew I had a chance to come back because I wasn't that far from her (Sakamoto).
"Toward the end though, it was more pressure. I felt like I had to try harder and make my putts. The last hole was tense, but I played for par. If I didn't believe, she (Sakamoto) would have tied the score."
Maluenda said that he too had to believe in his mind that he could win.
"This was really a difficult win for me. But I kept the ball in the fairway and that was my key to winning," said Maluenda. "I just tried to take it one shot at a time. The experience of playing (recently) in Washington was really valuable and helped me to feel I had a chance to win."