Hawaii Grown Report

Jan Ikeda, of Maui, has won two conference singles and three conference doubles championships at Northern Colorado.

Leaving behind a legacy

Hawaii athletes have made a big impact
on Northern Colorado tennis

UNIVERSITY of Northern Colorado tennis players from Hawaii have won 35 North Central Conference singles and doubles championships since 1992.

The best of the bunch graduated this month and, for now at least, the well is dry.

Jan Ikeda, a 2000 Baldwin High graduate, "probably is the best, the most talented, of all the Hawaiians we have had," says Rosemary Fri, who started Northern Colorado's women's tennis program 41 years ago and has been its only coach.

Ikeda played No. 1 all four years and compiled a career record of 67-41 in singles and 63-35 in doubles.

But she almost didn't make it to the second semester of her freshman year. "I was very, very homesick," Ikeda said. When she went home to Maui for Christmas in 2000, "I didn't want to come back because I was cold and I missed everything at home."

But she returned because, "I had a responsibility to be here. I had a commitment. It would kind of have been a failure if I didn't come back," she told a reporter in Greeley, home of Northern Colorado, last year.

Good thing, for her and for the Bears' tennis teams.

Ikeda won two conference singles championships and three doubles crowns with Jodie Sato (Mililani '99), whom Ikeda credits for helping her overcome her homesickness.

"If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't have stayed," Ikeda says. Sato graduated last year and works at a bank in Greeley.

Ikeda, team captain this year, was No. 1 in the North Central Region in NCAA Division II singles and No. 3 in doubles in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. Nationally, Ikeda was 20th in Division II singles.

"She has marvelous ground strokes, her return of serve is excellent, and nobody can believe she can hit with so much power because she is so small (5-foot-1, 105 pounds)," Fri said.

"She just loves to hit it hard."

Ikeda was the ITA regional champion last fall and finished seventh in the Division II nationals.

"Jan has a classic volley, nice timing and a good mid-court game," Fri says. "She is solid all the way around."

The only trouble with Ikeda, her coach says, is "she is so friendly. She wants to visit with everybody. It's hard to get her to focus."

But Ikeda says she has learned that in the important matches, "you've got to play your heart out every time."

Ikeda did not get to defend her conference singles and doubles championships or go to regionals or nationals this spring because Northern Colorado is making the transition from Division II to Division I in all sports.

She was named to the second team on the NCAA Division I all-independent team, picked by coaches and sports information directors, but is ranked in Division II.

Fri hopes that Ikeda will have time next year to help coach while earning her elementary teaching credential in Greeley.

But for only the second time in the last 14 years, Northern Colorado apparently will have no players from Hawaii.

"We lost out to San Diego on Sierra Dunn (St. Anthony) and missed another good prospect in recruiting this year," Fri laments. She says Lezley Imai-Okamoto (Baldwin '94), an eight-time conference champion for the Bears from 1995-98, is trying to prime the pump on Maui.

SHORT LOBS: "The first year is just really tough on all the Hawaii students," Fri said. There are 97 students from Hawaii at Northern Colorado this year who are receiving reduced tuition under the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). They pay an average of $7,866 less than the usual out-of-state tuition. ... Northern Colorado has the most Hawaii students under WUE of any college in the state.

Northern Colorado's Hawaii Legacy

All championships are North Central Conference titles:

Player Years Notable Achievements
Donna Aratani 1983 Member of a team inducted into the UNC Hall of Fame
I.B. Hur 1992-94 Won four singles and four doubles championships
Kris Ibarra 1992-94 Won three singles and three doubles championships
Lezley Imai 1995-98 Won four singles and four doubles championships
Jodie Sato 2000-03 Won four singles and four doubles championships
Jan Ikeda 2001-04 Won two singles and three doubles championships


Kapolei’s Chun tries
for Olympics

Clarissa Chun of Kapolei won the Olympic Trials challenge tournament yesterday and will compete today for one of four berths on the U.S. team when women's wrestling makes its debut in the Olympic Games in August.

Stephany Lee of Salt Lake reached the final of the challenge tournament in Indianapolis but was pinned by two-time world champion Kristie Marano of New York.

Chun, a 1999 Roosevelt High graduate, will wrestle her long-time nemesis, fellow USA team member Patricia Miranda, in a best-of-three series today for the United States' 48 kg (105.5 pounds) berth in the Olympics.

Yesterday Chun defeated Sara Fulp-Allen of El Granada, Calif., 5-3 in overtime in the challenge final. Chun won when she got Fulp-Allen on her back 33 seconds into the overtime, in which the first score wins.

Chun has been a member of the U.S. team and resident of the Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs for nearly two years, but has never beaten teammate Miranda, a Stanford alumna.

Chun won her first two matches in the challenge tournament by scores of 12-2 and 13-2 to reach the final. Lee won her first two matches 9-5 and 4-2.

Marano, wrestling 20 pounds above her normal competition weight because there was no other Olympic option for her, was much faster than Lee. She led 9-0 when she pinned Lee 34 seconds into the second round.

Three other Olympic Trials qualifiers from Hawaii were eliminated on Friday, all in the same 48kg (105.5 pounds) division as Chun.

Kapua Torres (Kahuku '03) and Katie Kunimoto (Castle '99) both won two and lost two.

Kristen Fujioka (Castle '01) lost two straight. In her first match, Fujioka was leading 7-0 but made a mistake and was pinned.

Debbi Sakai (Mililani '03), the sixth Hawaii wrestler to qualify, decided not to go to Indianapolis for the trials.

Format for the trials is a challenge tournament among all qualifiers except the No. 1 seed. Winner of the challenge tournament wrestles the No. 1 seed in a best-of-three series.

Kaleo Eldredge (Baldwin '01) squeezed California into the NCAA regional final today at Lincoln, Neb.

Eldredge, California's center fielder and clean-up batter, put down a squeeze bunt in the first inning yesterday to bring home the Golden Bears' first run in a 2-0 victory over host Nebraska.

In three regional games, Eldredge is batting .500 (3-for-6) and has scored or driven in three of Cal's eight runs. The Golden Bears, seeded No. 1 in the region, have a 49-11 record.

For the season, Eldredge, a junior, is batting .355 (55 for 155) in 57 games.

She is demonstrating the rare combination of speed and power with a .548 slugging average and stealing 16 bases in 17 tries.

Perhaps her greatest value and most impressive statistic is one not normally reported. Eldredge has struck out two times in 190 plate appearances -- a strikeout avoidance percentage of .9895.

Pau at Pacific: Center fielder Nicole Inouye's career at Pacific (Calif.) ended yesterday when the Tigers were eliminated from the NCAA Division I regional at Stanford, losing 1-0 to Southern Illinois.

But before they bowed out, Inouye and her teammates ousted 16th-ranked Fresno State and her former high-school rival, Mitzi Ing (Iolani '00) 6-1 on Friday.

Inouye (Sacred Hearts '99 of Aiea) went 4-for-12 during the regional.

Ing also is from Aiea and also started all season in center field. She batted .270 (48 for 178) in 66 games as Fresno State went 48-20.

After a rough start, Inouye finished the season batting .233 (20x129) in 53 games. She got better as the season progressed and hit .304 (17x56) in 20 Big West Conference games, including three home runs.

Pacific finished 36-23.

Cal State-Fullerton junior Kurt Suzuki (Baldwin '01) is among 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench award to college baseball's best catcher.

Fullerton clinched the Big West championship on Friday. Suzuki entered this weekend leading the Big West by a landslide in hitting (.443), on-base percentage (.545), slugging (.716) and RBI (63).

His career average to .398, six points off the school record .404 by Mark Kotsay.


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