Pac-Five girls get in it to win it


POSTED: Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Pac-Five girls enjoyed their first trip to the party so much, they ended up being the party.

The Wolfpack finshed first at the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Canoe Paddling Championships at Keehi Lagoon yesterday. Making its first appearance in the state tourney, Pac-Five finished the half-mile course with a time of 4:15:54, followed by Kamehameha (4:20:54) and Baldwin (4:21:37). Kamehameha won the boys title and Kalaheo took the mixed.

“;I didn't even know this was possible,”; said Pac-Five senior Takara Sights. “;Before the race, I didn't even care if we'd finish last because we finally made it to the states. But, oh my God, we did it. We went out there and put everything into it. One of our assistants, Coach Sam, told us, 'You better not have smiles on when you come in.' We tried, but in the end, that didn't work out.”;

The Wolfpack had to win the hard way. In the morning two-heat preliminary rounds, the top pair of schools in each qualified for automatic berths into the finals. Defending champion Punahou and perennial favorite Kamehameha won their heats. Both were heavily favored because no other teams have won the girls event since the inaugural tournament in 2002. Pac-Five finished third in the opening round and had to go through the semifinals, where the girls placed first in their group. During that race, head coach David Ahia saw some possibilities. He talked to the girls and they applied their strengths in the final.

“;We thought if we could get to the turn first, we'd be in a good position,”; said Ahia. “;The wind conditions were just right because we're a strong up-wind crew. When I saw them make the turn, I had a good feeling.”;

Ahia's task is especially difficult because Pac-Five is a collection of smaller schools that ordinarily couldn't compete.

“;The scheduling can be a nightmare at times,”; said Ahia. “;Each school has its own schedule, proms and other events at different times. But they really found a good chemistry and worked well together.”;

The crew members of the winning team were Sights, Haeli Barrett-Moore, Claire Gordon, Maryna Feldberg, Raven Howser and Kahala Scneider.

The Kamehameha boys crew won its first title since 2006 with a time of 3:39:69, followed by Mid-Pacific Institute ( 3:42:39 ) and Seabury Hall ( 3:44:48).

The Warriors added a third state championship to their credit, edging 2007 champion MPI in a hard-fought race.

“;There is no sport that relies more on teamwork than paddling,”; said Kamehameha captain Kaumaka Fu. “;It was a tough race out there and everyone earned their spot, but it all came down to who did their best. Today, it was us. My boys were awesome.”;

Kamehameha head coach Kalama Heine used the upset in the girls event to psyche his team. The Warriors won their preliminary race for a trip to the finals but used the Pac-Five upset as a cautionary tale.

“;I told them that they did a good job to qualify, but anything can happen in the finals,”; said Heine. “;I told them just do what they do in practice and they did a great job. They pulled away from the field in the end and I'm happy for the boys.”;

Kalaheo made sure it wasn't an all-ILH affair by winning the mixed event with a time 3:47:31. The Mustangs were followed by Kamehameha (3:48:96) and fellow Oahu Interscholastic Association school Nanakuli (3:52:60). Mustangs head coach Julian Wicker said his team's victory was hard fought.

“;They've been working hard all season and we told them to leave it all out on the water the last half-mile, and they did,”; Wicker said. “;They reached inside themselves and put everything they had into it and they did it. I'm really excited for them right now.”;