FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jordeen Koizumi, left, is the defending OIA champion. Seiko Santos finished second at the state tournament a year ago.
Chargers strike it rich
Koizumi and Santos give Pearl City two of the best bowlers in the state
When Jordeen Koi-zumi releases her bowling ball down the right side of the lane, chances are it will hook into the pocket for a strike.
Afterward, as she is swarmed with congratulatory high-fives, chances are even better one of those is from Seiko Santos.
Whether bowling for Naval Station juniors, the Leeward bowling club, or the Pearl City high school team, Koizumi and Santos have developed a special bond through bowling.
"We're like sisters," Koizumi said.
The top two senior bowlers from Pearl City are preparing for tomorrow's Oahu Interscholastic Association championships, where Koizumi will look to defend her title from a year ago.
Koizumi enters the tournament as the regular-season leader with a 205 average. Santos, who finished second at states a season ago, finished third with a 190 average.
"Those are like the boys' averages," Pearl City coach Larry Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues is in his 14th year as girls bowling coach and has set the bar pretty high for his varsity squad.
Since he took over, the Chargers have advanced to the state tournament every year and never finished lower than third.
This year's squad already qualified for states by finishing in the top two of the Western division.
Mililani finished ahead of Pearl City despite losing 2-1 to the Chargers in their only regular-season meeting.
"We gave away first place, I thought," Rodrigues said.
Both Santos and Koizumi bowl year-round, and each took part in the USA Junior Gold Championships over the summer in New York.
Just less than 1,000 girls participated in the tournament, which served as a tremendous learning experience for both bowlers.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pearl City's Jordeen Koizumi and Seiko Santos are preparing for tomorrow's OIA championships and next week's states.
"It was so intimidating," Santos said. "Everyone was so big compared to us."
The tournament was held on professionally styled lanes, making the oil patterns tricky to figure out. Each lane was oiled differently, making each shot different to read.
The lane conditions were a far cry from anything seen in Hawaii.
"It was nothing like the Hawaii house shots," Santos said. "It wasn't easy."
Both Koizumi and Santos also got to see the sights, including a trip to Niagara Falls and Canada. Santos also got to spend time in New York City, but Koizumi passed on the opportunity.
"I didn't want to pay the extra money," Koizumi joked.
Things were fine and dandy for the two soon-to-be seniors as they returned home seemingly poised for a big year in the OIA.
Rodrigues had high hopes for this season with five seniors returning. Santos and Koizumi were coming off impressive state tournaments in which they finished second and fifth, respectively.
But to his shock just prior to the season, Santos came up to him and said she didn't feel like turning out for the team this year.
"I just didn't feel like bowling," Santos said. "Maybe I got burned out."
Koizumi was eventually the deciding voice in getting Santos to return.
"I just told her that she wouldn't want to regret it later in life," Koizumi said.
Sporting her custom-designed bowling shoes, Santos stuck with the sport she has played "forever" and has made the year an enjoyable one for their coach.
"They are just so fun to coach," Rodrigues said. "Jordeen is quiet, but rugged and holds her own. (Seiko) is just a lot of fun."
Santos also brings her own style to the bowling game. She owns four different bowling balls that all have pink inserts.
She also has four different pairs of specially made bowling shoes. Her favorites are a pair of Nikes that she bought from a store and then had fitted into a bowling shoe.
"I just want to be different," Santos said.
The state bowling tournament will be held in Hilo next Thursday and Friday, and no matter what happens in the OIA championships, both Koizumi and Santos will finish their high school careers on the Big Island.
Since bowling is such a mental game and expectations are high for both, the pressure to succeed increases every day.
But these two even-keeled seniors seem to have a grasp on how to handle it.
"We're just going to eat, sleep, and have fun," Koizumi said.
Just like sisters would.