Hawaii Grown Report

Senior Mark Oda, left, will be joined by his brother Luke on the Santa Clara water polo team next season.

Local athletes
making waves

Competitors from Hawaii find water
polo success at varying levels

Water polo is bubbling these days, from the U.S. Olympic teams to high school graduates.

Goalkeeper Brandon Brooks (Punahou '99) denied two successive shots in the final 1:35 yesterday as the U.S. men's Olympic team dealt Russia its first home defeat in 25 years, 9-6, in Moscow.

Brooks, a two-time All-American at UCLA, had nine saves in the game. Team USA will complete an Around-the-World-in-24 days pre-Olympic Games training tour today in Moscow.

Aaron Chaney (Iolani '75), who will referee in the Olympics, is on the trip with Team USA.

The U.S. Women's Olympic team roster will be announced Wednesday, but former UCLA All-American Maureen "Mo" Flanagan (Punahou '99 of Hawaii Kai) will not be included. Flanagan, a defensive standout, was the second-to-last cut by the U.S. coaching staff. The USA is reigning world champion.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps sophomore Annie Richardson (Punahou '02 of Maunalani Heights) was named first-team All-American in NCAA Division III by the American Water Polo Coaches Association.

Richardson led CMS to third place in the Division III national championships, and was the team's leading scorer this season with 89 goals. "She can set, guard, drive, shoot from outside -- play anywhere she wants," Claremont coach Tim Settem said.

"She brings intensity, intelligence, confidence -- everything that every coach desires -- and does it on a daily basis, without complaint. She has taken us to the next level."

Richardson, a biology/pre-med major, also was chosen to the national coaches' All-Academic team.

FIVE HIGH SCHOOL senior boys were chosen on the 127-player California-Hawaii All-America team picked by the Pacific Water Polo Coaches Association and have made college commitments.

They are:

» Iolani goalie James Street (fifth team), headed for UC- Santa Barbara. Besides playing water polo, Street is a National Merit Scholar semifinalist.

» Punahou's Billy Brady (sixth team) is headed for Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. His strength, says Punahou coach Ken Smith, is his anticipation from defense to offense.

» Iolani 2-meter man Damon Jones (seventh team), was appointed to the Air Force Academy. Jones, highly regarded for his defensive skills, was a repeat selection.

» Iolani utility player Luke Oda (eighth team), will join his brother Mark at Santa Clara. Luke Oda won an Outrigger Foundation Duke Kahanamoku Scholarship. Versatility is considered his best asset. Mark, a senior next season, is seventh on Santa Clara's career steals list.

» Punahou shooter/setter Arik Look (honorable mention) will play for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in Southern California.

Street and Brady were co-players of the year in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, which is the only league in Hawaii that sponsors boys water polo.

Thirteen players from Hawaii have been selected first-team All-America, including Brooks (1999) and C.J. Smith (2003), a freshman at UCLA. Brooks went on to be a two-time college All-American at UCLA.

In the pool: Robin Cornuelle (Punahou '02) helped Middlebury College to its best-ever season and was chosen to the All-New England club conference team.

Kamaile Crowell and Avery Cavanah, who led Punahou to the first state girls water polo championship this month, will continue their careers at UCLA and Harvard, respectively. Teammate Jennifer Hohl plans to walk on at Hawaii.


Takata takes shot
at Athens

Taylor Takata gets his shot -- a long shot at that -- at the Olympic Games on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Takata, a 2000 Iolani graduate from Wahiawa, is ranked No. 4 in USA Judo's 60 kilogram (132-pound) division. Only the winner of the U.S. Trials at San Jose State's Event Center gets a ticket to Athens.

Takata has lived judo since he accepted the invitation of USA Judo to move to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in May 2001. His "judo day" starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends about 11 p.m.

He took his only extended break when his younger sister Summer was killed in a car accident near their home late last year.

In judo's complicated rating system, Takata has 8 points, compared to 22 for No. 1-ranked Taraje Williams-Murray.

His work is cut out for him on Saturday.

"There are a lot of good people at my weight," Takata says. He knows his chances are slim this year, but says "I'll try to stick with it through the 2008 Olympics. My ultimate goal is to win the Olympics."

Takata turned 22 in April.


It was a huge week for UCLA junior Chris Lam, who was home-schooled in Palolo.

With Lam at No. 4 singles, the Bruins reached the final match of the NCAA team championships before falling to Baylor 4-0. He moved on to the individual championships, where he was ranked 60th, but lost in the first round.

But that disappointment was assuaged somewhat Friday when he was named to the Pac-10's All-Academic first team. Lam has a 3.56 grade-point average and is majoring in business-economics.

Earlier he was named second-team on the All-Pac 10 coaches' team.

Lam led UCLA in singles victories this year with 35. He was ranked 18th -- highest ever by a player from Hawaii -- by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association after the fall season.


Michigan senior Vera Simms made a courageous effort to qualify for the NCAA Division I championships yesterday, running the 400-meter hurdles at the Mid-East Region meet even as she is recovering from mononucleosis.

But Simms (Mililani '00) did not get past the preliminaries at LSU, placing 11th in 1 minute, 0.19 seconds.

She was ranked fourth in the region with a time of 58.21 seconds in March, but got so ill that she could not defend her two-time Big Ten championship two weeks ago.

Though one of her dreams -- making the NCAAs -- will not be realized, another looks like a certainty. Simms has been awarded a post-graduate scholarship in her major of engineering.

The only other athlete from Hawaii in a NCAA regional yesterday also did not qualify for nationals. Arizona State's Jana Pintz (Kailua '01 of Waimanalo) placed 14th in the javelin in the West regional at Northridge, Calif., at 143 feet, 9 inches.

Pintz never threw the spear before this spring, after she transferred to Arizona State from Adams State in Colorado, where she played softball for two years.

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