Punahou girls, Iolani boys
win ILH kayak team titles


Monday, Nov. 11, 2003

>> The name of the Punahou kayaker who finished third in the ILH boys distance final Saturday is Cole Scott. In an article on B10 yesterday, his name was reported as Scott Cole.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

Expectations met and expectations exceeded.

So went the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's kayak championship races on the Ala Wai Canal yesterday.

Kamehameha Schools senior Elena Bryant finished the season undefeated, winning the girls 250-meter sprint title, while Iolani School senior Robert Wada -- hoping just for a medal -- won the boys sprint.

And, as the VanLier Ribbink family went, so did the overall titles. Iolani senior Peter VanLier Ribbink took the 2,000-meter distance race to help the Raiders claim the boys team title over defending champion Punahou. His sister, Halli, a junior at Punahou, won her 2,000-meter race as the Buffanblu successfully repeated their girls title.

The Iolani boys team finished with 34 points, with Mid-Pacific second (63), Punahou third (67) and Kamehameha fourth (108). The Punahou girls team, which placed 2-5 in the sprint race, had 37 points. Kamehameha was second (59), Mid-Pacific third (69) and Iolani fourth (107).

"It's a fulfillment of everything we've worked for the past few years," Raiders coach Eric Chun said. "The last two years, we narrowly missed the championship. The kids who were involved with that are seniors this year. They're solid paddlers and we were lucky. It's a team you don't have every year.

"Robert Wada was a surprise. Someone asked me before the race what I thought. Told them that (Iolani's) Landen (Buckley) and Mike (Self) had traded off winning and that Chris (Punahou's Chapman) would be tough to beat. I told them that Wada was the wild card."

The boys' sprint race was the wildest of the day, with 1 1/2 seconds separating first place from fourth. In what came down to a photo finish, Wada edged out Chapman by 24 hundredths of a second (1:00.55 to 1:00.79). Buckley was third in 1:01.23 and Self fourth in 1:02.05.

"It was crazy at the end," said Wada. "I thought I got third. I wasn't expecting it. I thought Chris or Landon had won. I would have been happy with third, just to have a medal. It was a big surprise."

Bryant's victory came as no surprise to those who watched her dominate this season. After finishing fifth in the ILH championships the past two years as a distance paddler, she switched over to sprints this season.

"My only goal this year was to win every race," Bryant said. "It was hard to stay focused, it being championship day, but I kept telling myself, 'I've got to win. It's my last year.'

"It was a tough race. The girls are all so good and there was a headwind coming back. But the Ala Wai is my second home. I love it."

Bryant also paddles on the Ala Wai for Kamehameha's outrigger canoe team and is a member of the Hawaii Canoe-Kayak Team, made up of Hawaii's elite young paddlers.

Yesterday, Bryant won her heat, then easily won the final, finishing in 1:07.83. Punahou's Mele Carr was second in 1:10.66 with Buffanblu teammate Lauren Gratten third in 1:11.96.

The girls distance race wasn't as close, with Halli VanLier Ribbink pulling away over the final 500 meters to win by more than eight seconds (10:41.76). Kamehameha's Makana Bruhn took second (10:49.87) with Mid-Pac's Laura Vollert third (10:58.48).

Halli VanLier Ribbink led from the start in the 34-boat race, keeping to the middle of the canal, which was running better than the outside lanes. Her brother Peter watched as she made the turn at 1,000 meters, remarking that "she doesn't look like she's working that hard, but she's in control."

"My dad (Steve) told me to pick it up at the last turn, and I did," Halli VanLier Ribbink said. "I do better against the wind and the wind was against us coming back.

"I'm happy that we finally got our (family) wins. I've messed up the last two times."

She finished third in last year's 3,000-meter title race at Keehi Lagoon while her paddling team lost in a photo finish to Kamehameha last spring for the ILH outrigger canoe championship. Her brother won the individual kayak title and was in the Raiders' winning canoe last spring.

Peter VanLier Ribbink edged close friend and teammate Ian Smith in the distance final by over three seconds (9:19.06-9:22.20). Punahou's Scott Cole was third in the 35-boat race in 9:54.60.

"All I tried to do was stay one step ahead of Ian," VanLier Ribbink said. "It's been pretty much like this season: Me, Ian and, 30 seconds later, someone in third."

"It's a friendly rivalry," Smith said. "We had wanted to split up, but it was better for the team that we both do the distance race. Peter had a good lead at the start, but I thought maybe I could catch him at the last turn. He's very good in the wind and he took off."


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