HIGH SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD
Buffanblu boys pull out 29th
WAILUKU » In a meet veteran coaches called one of the most exciting they'd seen, Punahou's boys prevailed for its first state championship since 2002 and 29th overall.
No records were broken, as most times were relatively slow at muggy War Memorial Stadium, but the drama was high as three teams still had a legitimate shot at the trophy going into the final three events.
The Buffanblu -- with solo wins by victorious 4x400 anchor Zach Coronas in the 200, 400 -- won with 65 points. Baldwin was second with 54, Kamehameha third with 49.5 and Mililani fourth with 46.
Punahou led Baldwin by one point going into the 3,000 meters, but Chris Burniske scored six points for the Buffanblu with a third-place finish to put his team in position to win with a safe, conservative effort in the 4x400 to end the meet.
But that wasn't Coronas' plan.
"We knew the situation, but it didn't matter. We go for the win every time," said Coronas, who blasted a 48-second split on the anchor leg.
Ben Strand, Carlo Liquido, Tobie Reuwijk and Coronas won it in 3:23.62.
"Once I gave him that baton, I knew we would win," Reuwijk said.
Punahou coach Mike Pavich was sweating the outcome to the end.
"It was very scary," Pavich said. "But Coronas was unbelievable, to win the 2, the 4, and come back like that in the 4x4."
Baldwin coach Gary Sanches was proud of his team.
"We p.r.'d in a lot of events. It just wasn't enough," said Sanches, who has coached track 43 years and called this one of the most exciting meets he's been a part of. "There was no dominant team, and that made it interesting."
Punahou hurdles assistant Walter Thompson has coached the sport in Hawaii since 1964 and called it the most thrilling meet he's witnessed.
"After yesterday (when Punahou's Matt Tsujimura was injured in trials), I thought we were dead," Thompson said. "The other schools and leagues are catching up and that makes it very exciting."
Sanches said Burniske's third-place in the 3,000 was the turning point.
"He really came through for them," Sanches said. "That six points made a big difference."
Halfway through the meet, Kamehameha led with 34 points, followed by 28 for Baldwin, 24 by Mililani and 20 for Punahou.
Baldwin moved to the top with Joey Amescua's victory in the 800 meters (1:56.32), giving the Bears 48 points to second-place Kamehameha's 42.
Mililani then got 10 points for D'Andre Benjamin's win in the 300-meter hurdles. But the Trojans nearly lost eight points when Cameron Daugherty was disqualified for having tape on the back of his hand. Daugherty taped his hand because of a blister on his palm.
An appeal of the protest was upheld, and Daugherty was second to Erik Rasmussen of St. Anthony. They both went 14-9, but Rasmussen won on misses.
Benjamin also won the 110 hurdles (14.82), anchored the winning 4x100 relay (43.16) and took fourth in the long jump.
Punahou, with Coronas winning the 400 (49.47) and 200 meters (22.42), jumped into contention, and held the lead after Coronas' victory in the 200.
Reece Alnas of Kamehameha-Big Island was a double-winner in the long jump (21-10) and the high jump (6-4).
Keoni Ucker of Christian Liberty won the 1,500 meters in 4:10.99, with his brother, Nick, passing several runners down the stretch to finish second. Keoni was chasing the record of Punahou distance coach Todd Iacovelli. Iacovelli ran 4:05.79 in 2002, the last previous time the Buffanblu won the state title.