Buffanblu bounce back
from costly relay mistake

For a brief period, it looked like Punahou's girls' hopes for a seventh Hawaii High School Athletic Association track and field title in eight years died when they faulted in the 4x100 relay at yesterday's trials.

Most coaches doped the Buffanblu to battle Mililani and Iolani to the end in tomorrow's Island Movers Track and Field Championships at Kamehameha's beautiful Kunuiakea Athletic Complex. But after a 1-2 baton pass out of the zone, Punahou lost a crucial potential 10 points.

But, in typical Buffanblu fashion, as the trials wore on, middle-of-the-pack athletes turned in personal bests and positioned themselves to score points (and take them away from rivals) few could have predicted. By the end of the day Punahou was back in the hunt.

The best example of the Buffanblu's depth was sophomore Katie Craigie in the 800 meters.

She entered the meet with the 17th-best time in the state, but won her heat with a personal best of 2:24.84, good enough for the second-best qualifying time.

"I really surprised myself. The 1,500 is my main event, and this was supposed to be just another race," Craigie said. "I feel like that relay was a bad loss for us, but with everyone participating we still have a chance to win the meet."

Especially with Pippa Macdonald. She was right behind Craigie's time, running 2:24.96 in her heat. But the three-time defending state champion in the 800 wants to make it eight years in a row of state half-mile championships for herself and her older sister, Eri.

Macdonald also qualified in the 100 and the 200, setting herself up for a possible state triple no one can remember ever being accomplished. Macdonald already turned heads last week by winning the 100 and the 800 at the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships. It's sort of like leading a football team in both touchdown catches and sacks.

"It's pretty much the only combination I can do because I don't recover well, so it would be hard for me to do the 1,500 and the 800, so it was process of elimination," Macdonald said. "It just kind of happened."

Speaking of sister acts, Chun Mei and Mei Li Nickles of Mililani are poised to score heavily in all the jumping events and the 100 hurdles. How many of the five events they win -- and if the Trojans can take the 4x100 relay -- will determine if Mililani can loosen the ILH's seven-year stranglehold on the girls' title.

But Punahou and defending state champion Iolani qualified 1-2 in the 4x400, while Mililani was 12th. If the meet is close at the end, the Buffanblu or Raiders will win.

As for the boys, host Kamehameha will win its first state title since 2000, barring a barrage of bungled baton passes and freak injuries.

Nick Frazier has an outside chance to sweep the sprints, though King Kekaulike's Matt Linder will likely prevent that. Frazier qualified first in the 200 (22.57) and 400 (50.15) and second to teammate Travis Beyer in the 100 (11.27 and 11.33).

Another Warrior to watch is jumper Waika Spencer, who qualified third in the long jump (21-6), second in the triple (43-11) and cleared the 5-10 qualifying height in the high jump.

"Both his ankles were sprained from jumping, the long jump two weeks ago and the triple jump at ILH (championships last week). But he's recovered well and he's at about 95 percent," Kamehameha coach Sam Moku said.

The best race tomorrow could be between Kamehameha's Sam Wescoatt and Iolani's Patrick Morrissey in the 800. Wescoatt upset Morrissey in the ILH championship last week. They qualified first and second yesterday, Wescoatt at 1:58.98 and Morrissey at 2:00.08.

Kahuku's undersized Jarrod Avegalio could be the individual star of the boys meet. He flung the discus 174 feet yesterday, and is capable of besting Ed Ta'amu's meet record of 181-11 tomorrow. But the team glory will probably go to Kamehameha.

"It's pretty much going the way I expected. No surprises," Moku said late in yesterday's trials. "Our guys pretty much came out and did what they had to do. We're in pretty good position, but Maui and Punahou are still on our tails and we have to perform on Saturday."

The complete lists of qualifiers will be in tomorrow's Star-Bulletin.


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