HIGH SCHOOL BOWLING
Ajimine repeats, Kanda shocks in state bowling
HILO » A lot of good things can happen in sixth grade. For Justin Kanda, the best may have been a trip to Hilo.
Summoning his memories of that keiki tournament as an 11-year-old, Kanda stunned the field at Hilo Lanes yesterday to capture the individual boys title at the 50th annual ILWU State Bowling Championship.
The Roosevelt senior led the boys field with a nine-game total of 1,817 pins, 21 ahead of his nearest competition. Kanda's style and delivery -- he's a southpaw -- were perfectly suited for the wooden lanes. The facility is a throwback to where scores are computed manually, not electronically. The lanes required a throwback mentality, as well.
"On Wednesday, we got to practice on it. Some of my teammates hated it," Kanda said of the lanes. On wooden lanes, oil absorbs more fully, rendering "big ball" styles ineffective. "I knew I didn't have to throw strikes. This whole game was about spares."
He did just that until the final game. That's when he racked up a 234 to secure the victory, boosted by eight strikes. Left-handers have a cleaner angle on the lane since the righties wear down that side over the course of several games.
"By the fifth frame of my third game, I felt I could do it," said Kanda, whose season high was a 290 at Pearl Harbor. That facility, like Hilo, has wooden lanes. Kanda placed fourth in the recent Oahu Interscholastic Association championships.
Kalani's Dara Ajimine became a two-time state girls champion by amassing 1,747 pins. Ajimine won the title by one pin, even though she has a preference for urethane lanes.
"I changed my balls and position on my approach," she said. "I kept changing my position because the lane kept changing. It was so hard."
Ajimine won last year's state title in Lihue, where the surface is urethane. Her mental preparation was the same.
"My dad (Brian) said to focus, worry about my game and concentrate on my team," she said.
Mililani captured the girls team championship.
Ajimine placed third in the OIA championships. Last year, she was 11th in the league.
Hawaii Baptist also benefited from the retro traction. The Eagles practice at Fort Shafter, where wood prevails over urethane. They won the boys team title for a fourth time, including three of the last five years.
"Practicing at Fort Shafter gave us a huge advantage," coach Greg Hayashi said. "After our first or second session, our coaches noticed that the lanes here are almost exactly the same. If you try to force your ball on the lane, you'll just get frustrated."
HBA's boys previously won state crowns in 1996, 2003 and '06, all under Hayashi. This time around, they trailed front-running Mililani by 145 pins after Wednesday's first six games. The Eagles made up a 90-point deficit to second-place Kalani after the first game yesterday.
"We didn't tell them," Hayashi said. "We just said, 'Go bowl.' "
Kanda's final three games yesterday were 202 and 188 to go with the 234. He rotated among his three 15-pound balls: a Hammer Black Widow Pearl, Scorchin' Inferno and Intense Inferno. The latter two are made by Brunswick.
Ajimine also used a trio of balls: a Lane One Uranium, Roto Grip Venus and Columbia 300 Classic. All three are 14-pounders.