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Punahou captures boys title


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POSTED: Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Punahou claimed the Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys canoe paddling championship yesterday, winning its fifth of six races this season in the waters off Magic Island.

The Buffanblu's senior-laden crew got off to a strong start, and led the entire way to finish the nearly 6-mile course in 49 minutes, 26 seconds. Mid-Pacific (50:46) was the next crew to cross the line, followed by Kamehameha (50:54) and Saint Louis (52:09). Punahou's winning crew included Eric Wong, Andrew Anderson, David Kalani Mench, Jimmy Field, Alex Loomis and steersman Connor Carey.

"It's a great senior group, they made the commitment and it really paid off," Punahou coach Rocky Higgins said. "Today they wanted to finish strong, and show what they're all about."

The course ranged from Magic Island's rock pile to two buoys fronting the Waikiki Wall, back parallel with the shore to Kewalo Basin, back toward Diamond Head to the channel marker fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and finished at Magic Island near the Ala Wai Canal's mouth.

Higgins made sure Carey was aware of the tide level, and advised him that the boat would move more efficiently and encounter less friction if the steersman traveled far outside the surf break to start the race, and close to it heading toward Kewalo Basin.

"Everybody pushed up front so we could get out ahead, and it was a long race so we had to conserve energy coming back downwind," said Carey, a senior who is still making his way back from a serious accident suffered prior to his junior year. While hiking near Makapu'u, Carey fell about 30 feet and broke both ankles, an arm, and compressed two vertebra in his spine.

Punahou finished the season with a near-perfect 34 points, followed by Mid-Pacific (25), Kamehameha (17), Saint Louis (14) and Maryknoll (5).

The top four crews advance to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association/First Hawaiian Bank Canoe Paddling Championships at Maui's Hanakao'o Beach Park on Feb. 7. In last week's HHSAA's executive board meeting, the OIA forfeited two of its state tournament berths due to teams dropping out of regular-season competition. The ILH and Big Island Interscholastic Federation each picked up one of the berths, making it possible for four ILH teams to enter the state regatta for the first time in the race's eight-year history.

"They have their work cut out for them," said Higgins, who also coached Punahou to the inaugural boys state paddling championship in 2002. "You've got to (prepare for) great paddling from across the state. We're going to savor victory here, but when you go on to states, it's a whole new ballgame."

The Buffanblu also claimed the mixed division race, which includes crews made up of three boys and three girls from each participating school. Punahou finished in 54 minutes, 37 seconds, and its crew included: Lindsey Morgan, Victoria Morgado, Caitlin Faulkner, Taylor Caster, Kayne McCarthy and Nicholas Sumner.

Kamehameha (55:21) finished second, while third place went to Maryknoll (56:11).

After winning all but one race, the Buffanblu mixed crew led the ILH with 34 points, followed by Kamehameha (26), Maryknoll (15) and Pac-Five (11). The top three crews advance to the state tournament.

Kamehameha was set to try to win the ILH girls championship today in its final league regatta of the season. The race is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. at Magic Island.