Pac-Five girls win state paddling debut
• Photo gallery: State paddling
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Pac-Five made its First Hawaiian Bank Girls Paddling State Championships debut a truly memorable one, winning the title by 1 1/2 boat lengths yesterday at Ke'ehi Lagoon.
Kamehameha won its third boys crown in the past six years, and Kalāheo captured its first mixed crew championship.
"We were so happy just to be here ... to win it all is unbelievable," said Pac-Five's Nicole Faildo, a senior who attends Hawai'i Baptist. "I still can't believe it."
The Wolfpack won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division II title, but were seeded third among ILH teams in the state championship regatta, behind DI Kamehameha and Punahou.
"We had a good week of practice, our times were good, so I was hoping it would carry over into today," said Pac-Five coach David Ahia. "Even though it was our first time coming to states, I thought we had a good chance."
After placing third in their morning preliminary heat, Faildo said things were still "iffy," but after winning their semifinal heat, senior stroker Takara Sights (La Pietra) said "we knew we could finish at least second (in the finals) for sure."
Ahia said leading at the quarter-mile turn was a good sign.
"That's something I stressed to them, because we're stronger going downwind," Ahia said. "When we made the turn in first place, I thought we had a good shot to hold off the others (down the stretch). I'm so proud of the girls — just to get here was big, but to come away with the title ... it's amazing."
The winning time was four minutes, 15.54 seconds. Kamehameha (4:20.50) was second, followed by Baldwin (4:21.37), Kaua'i (4:22.88), Punahou (4:24.36), Seabury Hall (4:25.11), Kamehameha-Maui (4:25.39) and Kalāheo (4:28.12).
Besides Faildo and Sights, winning crew members were Halei Barrett-Moore (University High), Claire Gordon (UHS), Maryna Feldberg (La Pietra), Raven Howser (La Pietra), Kahala Schneider (La Pietra) and Alyssa Rodehever-Nojima (Hawai'i Baptist).
"It blew my mind," said Sights, who has 31 others in her senior class at La Pietra. "They'll be pretty excited for us back at school."
In the boys final, Seabury Hall led after the turn and looked like another upset possibility, but Kamehameha overtook the Spartans with about 250 yards to the finish line and held off a late charge by Mid-Pacific. The Warriors won in 3:39.69, about half a boat-length ahead of the Owls (3:42.39).
Seabury Hall (3:44.48) ended up in third, followed by Kealakehe (3:47.24), Nānākuli (3:50.30), Castle (3:54.53) and Waialua (3:55.53).
"We knew Mid-Pac was going to challenge us, because they've challenged us all year," said Kamehameha senior stroker Lokiao Paoa. "We had to keep it up (down the stretch) and push even more."
Warriors coach Kalama Heine said the ILH rivalry with MPI was good preparation for the state meet.
"It was great battling with Mid-Pac — we were first or second all year," Heine said. "It made us better. We have five seniors and one junior, and they really wanted this. They did it with hard work and determination."
Besides Paoa, members of the winning crew were Parker Smith, Kalai Stern, Raven Pokini, Nainoa Kau and Kaumaka Fu.
The Warriors' mixed crew almost won as well, but came up just 1.65 seconds short behind Kalāheo (3:47.31). Nānākuli (3:52.60) was third, followed by Punahou (3:53.50), Seabury Hall (3:54.37), Kealakehe (3:56.73), Kamehameha-Maui (3:58.36) and Pāhoa (3:58.62).
Kalāheo senior Torin Luis said the Mustangs used eight different stroke versions in the final race.
"We were a little nervous, but once we got out there, we felt right at home," Luis said.
Besides Luis, members of the winning crew were Kaoru Lovett, Barak Argov, Michael Borges, Nick Herrera, Courtney Wemple, Ameet Argov, Jenna Cates, Summer Zuidema and Taylor Soldat.
Conditions at Ke'ehi fluctuated between ideal and slightly windy.
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadvblogs.com.