Signing day brings back fond memories for Onosai
The years have gone by too quickly, but Joe Onosai remembers one of the biggest days of his life.
"I signed my letter (of intent) at home in KPT (Kuhio Park Terrace)," said Onosai, who signed with the University of Hawaii 25 years ago after a standout career at Pac-Five.
Onosai, who switched from fullback to offensive line and was later drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, was one of the spectators at the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance press conference last week. The Word of Life assistant pastor and athletic director watched one of his seniors, Aaron Tipoti, sign with California.
"Going to a smaller school helped me to get more experience," said Tipoti, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound defensive lineman who also plays basketball. "It's easier to get one-on-one help."
Nearly 50 student-athletes signed their letters of intent, and with the help of Mayor Mufi Hannemann, they did it in style at Mission Memorial Auditorium, next to Honolulu Hale. The event began several years ago in a spartan setting, but the same face -- belonging to PIAA executive director Doris Sullivan -- has been there to guide the process for hundreds of signees.
Sullivan, whose sons graduated from Damien and Saint Louis, charges nothing to help athletes. Aside from SAT preparation courses, PIAA's next event is the annual football combine held at Saint Louis.
Defensive tackle Ryan Eastman, one of Saint Louis' All-State selections, signed with Weber State after fielding some interest from UH. He will join former Crusaders Cameron Higgins and Zach Higgins. Cameron Higgins was the newcomer of the year in the Big Sky Conference.
"They want me to play right away," Eastman said.
Aiea's fleet-footed wide receiver James Buchanan became one of several signees with Valley City State (N.D.), an NAIA school.
"My parents said to look into all the situations and make sure they wanted me as a person, not just someone to fill out a jersey," he said.
Kaimuki has 11 players on the dock, most of whom are set to attend JCs in California and Arizona.
"Our coach recommended the schools. It's all thanks to him," running back James Bauer said of coach Darren Johnson.
Soccer standouts also sparkled on signing day. Punahou seniors Brittney Sanford and Erin Rementer signed with Loyola Marymount.
"We both fell in love with the campus and we had good 1-on-1 with the coaches," Sanford said. "We like their style of play. It's pretty soccer."
Sanford turned down an offer from Arizona State, while Rementer passed on Washington State, Navy and St. Mary's. They will join Nicky Hall (Iolani) and Katrina Chong (Hilo) at LMU.
Wildcats running wild
It's not just the Konawaena girls hoops team that has qualified for the state tourney. The Wildcats boys team knocked off Kamehameha-Hawaii 55-48 Monday night to secure the BIIF regular-season title.
Austonn Lazoff had 20 points and Kekoa Carvalho added 18 points and three blocks for the No. 6 Wildcats.
The tie-breaker game was played at Konawaena, a 120-mile drive from KS-Hawaii because their regular-season matchup was hosted by the Warriors.
Col. Ellison Onizuka Gym was sold out for the first time since Konawaena's successful stretch in the mid-1990s.
The BIIF playoffs start this week.
The future is now
The Glenn Nitta Invitational baseball tournament may have given fans a window into the future, perhaps more compelling since four-time defending state champion Punahou didn't take home the trophy.
Mid-Pacific won the title game over Iolani, 6-3. The Owls' Russell Doi was named tournament most valuable player.
Mililani defeated Kamehameha 3-0 in the third-place game. Punahou edged Pearl City 6-5 for fifth place, and Kaiser defeated Castle 6-2 in the seventh-place matchup.
The tourney also brought together potential draftees for MLB. Several players have already committed to universities, including Punahou's Harrison "Jeeter" Ishida to Arizona State and Paul Snieder to Northwestern.
Punahou's Zac Kometani, who is fielding more interest from recruiters and scouts, won the home run derby. The senior socked seven taters.
Though he didn't play in the tourney, another coveted prospect is Kamehameha-Hawaii's Kolten Wong, who was also an All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation selection at running back in football.