Mililani squads again ones to beat
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kyle Sakamoto
The Mililani boys and girls track and field teams will bring talent, depth and recent success to this week's O'ahu Interscholastic Association championships.
The Trojan boys have won four of the past eight titles, while the girls have claimed seven of nine.
First-year boys coach Marshall Ochi credits previous coach Shane Akamine and his staff for building the program.
"They brought a lot of structure and brought that tradition and that sense of pride in the Mililani community," Ochi said.
Ochi said Mililani started the season with a combined 120 boys on the junior varsity and varsity teams. He added 25 will be competing at the OIA championships, and 14 qualified for the HHSAA state championships on Maui on May 18 and 19.
"I'm fortunate to be in this situation and that tradition has already been installed," Ochi said.
Dane Matsunaga, in his sixth year as coach of the Trojans girls, likes to remind his team of the past as a motivational tool.
"A lot of times they really don't know about the tradition," he said. "The seniors are a little bit more aware of our tradition and success we've had.
"We try to remind them of the kids that have come before us, and to keep it going. Nothing is guaranteed. You have to earn it. It's not going to be given to them."
At the Western Divisional meet April 14 at Mililani, the Trojan boys won by 24 points despite not having two of their top sprinters.
D'Andre Benjamin won the 110-meter hurdles (15.0) and 300 hurdles (40.58), while Kawika Ornellas took the 100 (11.1), Nick Ogata claimed the 800 (2:06.13) and Cameron Daugherty won the pole vault (13-0). Mililani also won the 4x400 relay (3:36.5).
Sprinters Demetrius Thomas (left ankle) and Ikaika Payomo (left hamstring) were unavailable for the divisional meet, but are ready to go for the OIA championships.
"We have all the people we need to win it, and I think we're going to do good," said Thomas, a sophomore.
Thomas and Payomo are helping each other to get faster.
"Me and Demetrius, usually we work on takeoffs because every race is won right at the start," said Payomo, a senior. "I try to work with him on his technique, he tries to work with me on maintaining my speed and all that."
Daugherty, a junior who is hoping to clear 14 feet, joined the track and field program just last year. He is one of many underclassmen.
"This is a great program," Daugherty said. "We have a lot of young athletes this year. A lot of them have come a long way. Some of them looked hopeless in the beginning. We're going to have real good competition the next few years."
At the Western Divisional meet, the Mililani girls won by 115 points behind seven first-place finishes. It was the Trojans' 22nd consecutive title.
Courtney Senas won the long jump (16 feet, 1.25 inches) and triple jump (32-10). Ciara Quarles took the 400 (1:01.52), Nicole Painter won the 1,500 (5:19.1) and Kristin Ali Keith claimed the 3000 (11:33.2). Three Trojans tied for first in the pole vault (6-feet), and Mililani also won the 4x100 (50.9) and 4x400 (4:15.3) relays.
Sprinter Britney Stephens, a senior co-captain, is taking the cautious approach as far as the OIA championships.
"I'm not going to be overconfident and say anything that would give us bad luck," she said. "But I'm pretty confident in the team. We have a lot of pretty good girls. I'm hoping we can do it again this year."
Senior distance runner Kelli Ishihara, the other co-captain, added: "We have a lot of strong runners that have the heart and want to be here."
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at email@example.com.