Star-Bulletin Sports


Hawaii's Jennifer Warnock, left, and Melody Torres headed for the finish line at yesterday's Division B race.

UH sailors just
miss NCAA title

Old Dominion holds off Hawaii
for the women's sailing title

By Grace Wen

This time a change in head gear couldn't turn the tide for the Hawaii sailing team.

On the third and final day of the 2002 Intercollegiate Sailing Association women's championship, UH coach Andy Johnson sported a different hat than the one he had worn the previous two days.

Gone from his head was the red hat that he had worn since the Wahine's 23-point turnaround at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Association championships. In its place was a navy blue Minnetonka Yacht Club cap that almost did the trick.

Old Dominion fended off a late surge by ninth-ranked Hawaii to capture its third national championship with a final score of 168 points. Spurred by a supportive crowd, the defending national champion Wahine came back from a 27-point deficit at the start of the day, but couldn't quite catch the Monarchs. The Wahine finished with 177 points, followed by St. Mary's with 195 points.

"I'm really proud of these guys," UH coach Andy Johnson said. "There's only one team better in the country and defending a national championship is pretty hard to do. We came real, real close."

Blue skies and shifty 10-20 knot tradewinds greeted sailors at Keehi Lagoon yesterday. Hawaii's comeback was almost perfectly scripted. Before the final races, Johnson told the Wahine that they would need perfect sailing and the Monarchs would need to have problems to pull out the win.

It almost happened.

The Wahine started with two first-place finishes by All-American skipper Molly O'Bryan and All-American crew Sarah Hitchcock. Old Dominion's B division helped too with two double-digit finishes that allowed the Wahine to close the gap to two heading into the final two races of the day.

But the Monarchs' A division team sailed to a 1-2 finish to increase Old Dominion's lead to 12. Skipper Sally Barkow and crew Cara Gibbons-Neff won the A division with 62 points.

The Wahine made up some ground after skipper Jennifer Warnock and crew Melody Torres took third in race 17. Old Dominion's B division struggled most of the day, but skipper Corrie Clement and crew Anna Tunnicliffe got over their nerves for a third-place showing in the last race to clinch the title for the Monarchs.

"The competition was very close," Old Dominion coach Mitch Brindley said. "Hawaii's girls were obviously strong and incredibly tough to beat. They're good sailors. They would have put up a good fight no matter where it was.

"It was a lot more exciting that way. We might run out of Tums by the end of this, but we had full faith and confidence in the girls."

Despite finishing second, O'Bryan was proud of the Wahine's final efforts.

"We had a nice comeback," O'Bryan said. "We gave them a run for it. We didn't just let them walk away.

"It would have been nice to win my division. It would have been nice to win overall, but I had fun. I had a lot more fun sailing here than any other nationals I've sailed in."

The two time All-American concluded her Wahine career as one of the most decorated sailors in the program. Hawaii loses only four seniors from this year's team. Only one (O'Bryan) competed in the championships.

Note: Athletics director Hugh Yoshida and senior women's administrator Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano watched. Harry Dobelle, the son of UH President Evan Dobelle, helped with the scoring for yesterday's event. The team championship starts tomorrow at noon.

UH Athletics

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