Star-Bulletin Sports


Raiders back on track

By Jason Kaneshiro

Earl Hedani knew it was coming, a moment 18 years in the making.

But the anticipation couldn't prepare him for the stunning, yet exhilarating chill of his first ice-bucket dousing.

Hedani, who has coached track and field at Iolani since 1974, absorbed the rite of victory yesterday after the Raiders clinched their first-ever girls team title at the Interscholastic League of Honolulu track and field championships at Punahou's Alexander Field.

On a day of personal and team bests for Iolani, senior Lauran Dignam won all five events she entered and broke two records to help the Raiders win the title.

Iolani pulled away late to finish with 105 points, while Punahou came in second with 84. Pac-Five finished third with 39.

"We just jelled as a team, we had nice sprinters, distance, field events," Hedani said "We had so many kids do personal bests. Everybody just stepped up. ... The main thing I told the kids was we're going to try to win but we're going to have fun and they did it."

Punahou won the boys championship by racking up 89 points to Kamehameha's 52 in a meet that saw eight records fall.

Dignam highlighted the girls meet with a virtually flawless day. She started by winning the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.2 seconds. She then led to Raiders to a come-from-behind victory in the 4x100-meter relay.

She continued her assault with record-breaking runs in the 400 meters (56.98) and 200 meters (25.06) and closed the day by anchoring Iolani's victorious 4x400 relay. With the exception of the 4x100, Dignam won by significant margins in each race.

"I just went in taking each race at a time," she said.

The team title provided a cathartic finish for the Raiders, who also got first-place points from Catherine Greenlee in the long and triple jumps and freshman Christi Morrissey in the 800-meter run.

"It means a lot actually," Dignam said of the team championship. "We've been trying to do it every year, but we couldn't. The field events did good, so that helped us a lot because you can't just do it with the running."

Punahou's Natalie Fujimoto broke one of the meet's oldest records in winning the girls shot put with a toss of 43 feet. She tied the previous mark of 42 feet, 912 inches set by Kamehameha's Deedee Akeo in 1977 in the trials on Thursday.

Lindsay Beimes of Kamehameha also set the girls pole vault record by clearing 10 feet. Punahou's Melanie Pearson and Iolani's Kathryn Nishimura also tied the old mark of 9 feet, 6 inches.

Pac-Five's Christal Cuadra joined the list of multiple-event winners with victories in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs.

On the boys side, all eyes were on Kamehameha's Brandon Ala.

Ala shattered the boys discus record with a throw of 196 feet, 11 inches -- more than 11 feet past the previous mark set 12 years ago by Punahou's Mu Tagoai -- in the trials. He fouled on each of his three throws yesterday, but his performance on Thursday was enough to beat runner-up Dane Uperesa of Punahou by more than 40 feet.

Although Ala fell short of his goal of breaking 200 feet, one of his practice throws startled a few of the girls pole vaulters on the opposite end of the field.

"My goal was to make them bring out two tape measures," Ala said.

Uperesa was happy with his second ILH shot put title and approached the discus much like a golfer in a tournament in which Tiger Woods is entered.

"I always try to improve," Uperesa said. "I knew it would be tough competing against Brandon because he's such a great thrower, but I just try to get personal records."

Jesse Lee added to Kamehameha's point total by winning the 300-meter high hurdles with a record-breaking time of 39.2 seconds.

But it wasn't enough to catch Punahou.

Todd Iacovelli led the Buffanblu by setting the meet record in the boys' 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:09.4.

Iacovelli, who will compete collegiately at Michigan, went into his final lap with 8:05 showing on the scoreboard clock and well on pace to pass the previous mark of 9:17.44.

"I was looking at the clock to know how far off I was and I felt I had some gas left with one lap to go," he said. "I'm confident in my kick, so when I saw it was 8-low I knew I had a good chance at it."

Iacovelli also won the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:15.21 and closed his ILH career with six league titles.

Although the Buffanblu boys celebrated their team championship yesterday, they'll keep a wary eye on Kamehameha in the state championships which open Thursday at Mililani High School.

"I'm sure Kamehameha didn't show all they had today," Iacovelli said. "Kamehameha is dangerous, they're very strong. We're going to be prepared for states and know it's going to be close. We don't plan on running away with states."

ILH Baseball Tournament

Mid-Pacific 5, Iolani 3: The Owls clinched the tournament championship and a state tournament berth with their victory over the Raiders.

Matt Inouye's three-run triple highlighted MPI's five-run fifth-inning rally. Justin Pate and Patrick McGuigan combined to keep Iolani at bay the rest of the way.

Mid-Pacific will play Kamehameha for the overall championship on ay 7 p.m. Tuesday at Aloha Stadium.

At Aloha Stadium

Iolani (10-8) 000 201 0 -- 3 6 1

Mid-Pacific (15-4) 050 000 x -- 5 7 0

Kahiwa Letman, Dustin Goto (2) and Kala Ka'aihue. Justin Pate, Patrick McGuigan (5) and Matt Inouye. W -- McGuigan. L -- Letman.

Leading hitters -- Iolani: Reed Tanaka 2b; Bert Mitsunaga 2-2, 3b, 2 RBIs; Travis Agustin 2b. Mid-Pacific: Inouye 3b, 3 RBIs; Ryan Basco 2-3, 2b.

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