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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

HOMEGROWN REPORT
Boxing became whole new ball game


By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Air Force's Bailey Ball earned All-America honors after placing third at the National Championships. "It was my first time and I loved it," said Ball, who hopes to graduate in May but is not ruling out boxing again.

BILL EVANS | USAFA/DenMar Photo Services

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Bailey Ball

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Bailey Ball knows how to roll with the punches.

After winning a state wrestling championship as a Lahainaluna senior back in 2006, Ball took his talents to the Air Force Academy. But it wasn't on the wrestling mat where Ball would make his impact for the Falcons, it was in the boxing ring.

"Every freshman has to take boxing as a P.E. class here," said Ball, a senior who competes at 139 pounds. "I got a good grade in that class and I enjoyed it and it kind of snow-balled from there so I figured I'd go out for the team."

Ball joined the Falcons as a sophomore in 2008 and compiled a 5-2 record.

"It was actually kind of an easy adjustment for me coming from wrestling because I already had that one-on-one mentality and I knew what kind of focus you need," Ball said. "I pretty much enjoyed it from the start. I get such an adrenaline rush from it, more than I got from wrestling."

Ball went on to compete in the finals of the Wing Open and was twice named Boxer of the Week that year.

He credited long-time Air Force coach Eddie Weichers for his success.

"He's really passionate about the sport and he's always got your back, he's always supporting you," Ball said. "It was such a big help to have him in my corner because he's seen anybody and everybody from all experiences levels. He's seen people with wrestling backgrounds like me, and he knows how to mold you into a boxer. He's helped me a lot in developing me as a boxer."

Weichers has produced more than 280 National Collegiate Boxing Association All-Americans and more than 100 individual national champions since he began coaching the Falcons in 1976.

"He's got a ton of experience in the sport of boxing and it shows and he's the main reason that boxing is so successful here at the Academy. I love him, he's a great coach," Ball said.

In his junior year, Ball went 4-2 and reached the semifinals of the Wing Open. This season, Ball won the NCBA West Regional late last month and placed third at the National Championships last weekend in West Point, N.Y. He earned All-America honors for his accomplishments.

"I wanted to win that was the goal but, I lost a split decision in the semifinals to a Navy kid," Ball said. "It was a close fight. I felt like I was the winner, but it didn't roll that way."

Still, Ball said he will treasure the experience of fighting at the nationals.

"It was my first time and I loved it," he said. "The crowd was great and it was just cool to be able to travel and fight some place different."

Ball expects to graduate in May with a degree in behavioral science, but won't close the book on his boxing career just yet.

"I don't know what the future holds for me. I guess it depends on what opportunities came along, but if something comes along and I get to fight again, I'll take it," Ball said. "I love competing so I'm not going to count anything out, we'll see what happens."

TRACK & FIELD

• Wyoming's Kekoa Chavez (Hilo '05) won the men's 400-meter run at Saturday's Colorado Invitational in 48.53 seconds and was eighth in the 200 (22.29). Teammate Larissa Edwards (Ka'ū '08 of Pahala) was fifth in the women's 100 hurdles in 14.82. Colorado's Javen Correia (Maryknoll '08 of Wai'anae) was fifth in the men's 110 hurdles (15.18) and ran on the fifth-place 4x400 relay team. Matt Nakamoto (Hawai'i Baptist '09 of Honolulu) of Northern Colorado was 46th in the 3,000 (9:44.48).

• Chelsea Machida (Maui '07 of Kahului) of Linfield (Ore.) won the women's high jump by clearing 5 feet, 3 inches at Saturday's Pacific (Ore.) Luau Meet. Pacific's Jenna Matsumoto (University High '07 of Kailua) was second in the 400 hurdles (1:10.82) and third in the 100 hurdles (16.68). Teammate Julia Naumes (Kohala '09 of Kamuela) was fifth in the shot put (32-9 3/4) and discus (89-4). Murphy Busek (Waiākea '07 of Mountain View) was second in the men's shot put (45-10 3/4), third in the hammer throw (150-10) and 10th in the discus (112-3) for Pacific. Pacific's Casey Nishimura (Mid-Pacific '06 of Hawai'i Kai) was sixth in the men's 1,500 (4:13.54) and teammate Ryan Terao (Punahou '08 of Kāne'ohe) was fifth in the pole vault (13-0 1/4;).

• Idaho State's Bryce Jenkins (Leilehua '09 of Wahiawā) finished 14th in the men's 1,500 (4:08.24) and 16th in the 800 (2:03.56) at Saturday's Utah Classic.

• Darthmouth freshman Joy Piotrowski (Punahou '09 of 'Aiea) placed fourth in the women's long jump (16-6) and second in the triple jump (34-11 3/4) in a tri-meet against Vermont and Middlebury Friday.

• Trevor Mau (Saint Louis '09 of Kāne'ohe) finished fifth in the men's long jump (22-11) for Northern State (S.D.) at Saturday's North Dakota State Bison Open.

• Ryan Camody (Mililani '08) of Slippery Rock (Pa.) finished second in the men's pole vault (4.15 meters) at Saturday's Slippery Rock Invitational.

MEN'S VOLLEYBALL

• Stanford senior setter Kawika Shoji ('Iolani '06 of Honolulu) had 70 assists, 11 digs, six kills, three blocks and an ace, and younger brother Erik Shoji (Punahou '08 of Honolulu), a sophomore libero, came up with a match-high 16 digs in a five-set win over Pepperdine Friday. Sophomore outside hitter Brad Lawson ('Iolani '08 of Honolulu) had 15 kills with five digs and junior outside hitter Spencer McLachlin (Punahou '07 of Honolulu) added 14 digs and eight kills. The Cardinal (18-5, 15-5 MPSF) remained at No. 1 in the latest AVCA Division I-II Coaches Top 15 poll, which was released Monday.

• BYU sophomore Futi Tavana (Kaua'i '06 of Kalaheo) had 13 kills, four blocks and an ace in a pair of sweeps over Cal Baptist last week. The Cougars (20-7, 14-6 MPSF) are ranked No. 2 in the AVCA Top 15.

• USC junior setter Riley McKibbin (Punahou '07 of Honolulu) recorded 65 assists, 10 digs, four blocks and a kill and his younger brother, freshman outside hitter Maddison McKibbin (Punahou '09 of Honolulu), added 14 digs with two assists in a five-set win over Pacific (Calif.) Friday. The Trojans (14-10, 11-9 MPSF) are ranked No. 6 this week.

BASEBALL

• Northwestern's Paul Snieder (Punahou '08 of Honolulu) batted 8 for 14 in a three-game series at Penn State last weekend. Snieder had two doubles, three RBIs, one run scored and he drew a walk to help the Wildcats take two games from the Nittany Lions. In Saturday's 3-2 win, Snieder picked up his third save of the season after pitching the 11th inning, including one strikeout.

• Southern Utah freshman shortstop D.J. Andrade (Damien '09 of Waipahu) laid down the winning bunt on a squeeze play in the bottom of the 11th inning of a 4-3 win over Centenary Friday. Senior first baseman Bucky Aona (Punahou '06 of Makakilo) batted 3 for 3 with two walks, an RBI and one run for the Thunderbirds.

SOFTBALL

• East Carolina senior outfielder Charina Sumner (Kamehameha '06 of Kailua) batted 2 for 4 with two RBIs and senior third baseman Cristen Aona (Punahou '06 of Kapolei) also drove in two runs in a 9-0 win over Hampton last Wednesday. Senior left fielder Marina Gusman-Brown (Pearl City '06 of 'Ewa Beach) had a double, RBI, two stolen bases and scored twice. Senior shortstop Kaui Tom (Kamehameha '06 of Kailua) had an RBI and freshman catcher Kai Clark (Kapolei '09) scored a run for the Pirates.

• New Mexico State junior first baseman Hoku Nohara (Kamehameha '07 of Waimānalo) batted 2 for 4 with a double and freshman designated hitter Tehani Ka'aihue (Kapolei '09) had a double and scored a run in a 6-2 win over Louisiana Tech Saturday.

WOMEN'S WATER POLO

• UC San Diego junior attacker Hanalei Crowell (Kamehameha '06 of Kailua) scored four goals in an 11-6 win over Sonoma State Saturday. Later in the day, Crowell had three goals in a 16-8 loss to San Jose State. She now has 30 goals, 31 steals and a team-high 37 assists this season.

• Occidental (Calif.) freshman center Nanea Fujiyama (Kamehameha '09 of Honolulu) scored three goals in a 7-5 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Saturday. Junior attacker Karie Nickle (Kamehameha '07 of Honolulu) had three assists and three steals for the Tigers.

GOLF

• Pacific (Ore.) junior Max Bonk (Hawai'i Prep '06 of Kamuela) won medalist honors at the Northwest Conference Spring Classic last weekend at the par-72 Links at Moses Point in Moses Lake, Wash. Bonk shot 1-under par 143 and birdied the second hole of a playoff to win the Spring Classic for the third straight year. He was named NWC Men's Golf Student-Athlete of the Week yesterday.

• James Madison (Va.) sophomore Nicole Sakamoto (Kalani '08 of Honolulu) was named Colonial Athletic Conference Women's Golfer of the Week for the third time this year last Wednesday. Sakamoto won medalist honors at the Tina Barrett Longwood Invitational in Farmville, Va. with a 2-over par 218.

Advertiser Staff Writer Stanley Lee contributed to this report.