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Kalaheo dominates OIA paddling


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POSTED: Sunday, February 01, 2009

Kalaheo's lone Oahu Interscholastic Association paddling championship prior to this season came in 2004 when Julian Wicker was a senior on the school's victorious boys' squad.

But, with Wicker now coaching the Mustangs program, Kalaheo added two more titles to its cache as both the varsity boys and mixed-gender (three boys, three girls) crews capped undefeated seasons in their respective divisions at the OIA canoe paddling championship regatta yesterday afternoon at Keehi Lagoon.

“;It's pretty much all them, we (coaches) can only guide them so far—they want to win,”; said Wicker of his program. “;To see them before races preparing, and now getting the championship, they remind me a lot of myself in high school.”;

The Kalaheo boys crew completed the mile-long course in 7 minutes, 50.17 seconds, and the defending state champions held off ensuing finishers Kaiser (7:57.01), McKinley (8:01.08) and Nanakuli (8:05.90) in wire-to-wire fashion. The victorious crew included: Alex Guillaume, Shawn Reed, Nick Seegar, Kaoru Lovett, Barack Argov and Wade Applebaum.

“;It was a good race—we trained hard all season, and didn't take anything for granted,”; said Guillaume, a senior and four-year stroker. “;Everybody (in the OIA) trains hard ... but we train harder.”;

The mixed crew from Kalaheo followed suit, and the group with five seniors navigated the course in 8:28.95. Reed, Guillaume and Seegar raced with the mixed crew along with Shelby Singlehurst, Courtney Wemple and Chelsea Kahalepacole-Bizick.

“;We pushed out of every turn. I'm pretty sure that was our best run,”; said Kahalepacole-Bizick, the crew's steersman. She noted that taking wide angles on each turn allowed the boat to keep its momentum. “;When you have three turns in a race, it's all about getting out.”;

Nanakuli finished runner-up to Kalaheo by nearly 10 seconds, while McKinley (8:46.39) and Castle (8:47.76) were in the hunt.

Anuenue claimed its second consecutive OIA girls crown and fifth in the past six years. The Native Hawaiian immersion school in Palolo dominated the race in 9 minutes, 5.62 seconds, finishing nearly 20 seconds ahead of Nanakuli (9:25.48).

“;It's awesome—from the beginning, these girls were kicking all the way to the end,”; said Na Koa girls coach Byron Martinez. “;It's all about keeping these girls together, and mentally as one.”;

Anuenue's crew consisted of Kawehi McShane, Kahoku Keola, Kaleihiwa Naauao, Awapuhi Koanui-Kong, Kaulahea Crawford-Kapanui and Kehaulani Kelii. According to Martinez, the crew kept its stroke rate at around 70 per minute on the downwind legs, and slowed the count when heading upwind in order to employ a longer, powerful stroke to counter the wind's resistance.

While it failed to notch a victory on the afternoon, Nanakuli was rewarded with the Tesoro Cup for its stellar overall season, which included regular-season titles in the OIA West boys, girls and mixed divisions. The award is given to the school with the highest cumulative point total, including both regular season and championship races in the boys, girls and mixed divisions.

“;It was a rough day for us, but to win this prestigious award, it's a real privilege to be associated with it,”; said Nanakuli head coach Ryan Van Gieson.

The top nine crews from both the boys and girls divisions, and the 10 top mixed-division clubs from yesterday's championships earned berths to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association/First Hawaiian Bank Canoe Paddling Championships at Maui's Hanakao'o Beach Park on Saturday.

“;It's going to be a whole new ballgame,”; said Van Gieson of the fact that state races are 1/2 mile in length. “;It's a shorter sprint, so we need to get quicker and stronger. We've got a lot of work to do.”;