Punahou favored again in water polo
With 10 state swimming medals including six golds among four players, it is not difficult to see why Punahou girls water polo coach Ken Smith says, "our strength is in our swimming speed."
Or why the Buffanblu are the colors to beat in the fifth season of Interscholastic League of Honolulu water polo. Punahou won the previous four titles.
The other teams in the league are Kamehameha, Pac-Five and 'Iolani. The ILH is the only league in the state with a sanctioned water polo season. An informal public school league exists, with players from five O'ahu Interscholastic Association schools.
Annie Richardson, Katie Flanagan, Daya Mau and Kristen Simunovich all juniors won at least one gold medal each for Punahou's state champion swimming team. Richardson was last season's ILH water polo co-Player of the Year as a sophomore and Simunovich is this year's ILH swimmer of the year.
Tiana Johnson, a two-event state meet medalist last year who stayed out of swimming this year because of shoulder problems, and goalkeeper/captain Ashley Wayman are Punahou's only seniors. Wayman splits time in goal with junior Meagan Fawcett.
'Iolani, under new head coach Mark Cornish and led by Tiffany Yee and Brianne Castillo-Huang, has given Punahou the most problems in the past, even forcing a playoff in 1998.
Pac-Five goalkeeper Jessica Isaacs is considered the best in the league and gets plenty of chances to prove it.
Naona Ferriera, Keala Hironaka and Malia Tallett lead Kamehameha.
The ILH season opens tomorrow at Kamehameha with Punahou vs. Pac-Five at 4:45 p.m. and Kamehameha against 'Iolani at 6 p.m.