Kealakehe girls pool their talents
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
There was never any mention of winning a state title among the Kealakehe girls swim team.
Nobody had thought of it. Realistically, the seven-member squad was a longshot, particularly since Punahou came into the event with 45 state titles.
"Realistically, I didn't think we had a chance," Kealakehe coach Steve Borowski said. "One event after another, kids would move up a point here, point there."
Midway through Saturday's Local Motion/Hawai'i High School Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships at Kamehameha-Hawai'i, the announcer read off the point standings. Then toward the end of the race, Kealakehe's Alyssa Foo and Madison Hauanio finished first and second in the 100-yard backstroke. A state title was more than within reach then, and a third-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay gave the Waveriders the state title, the first state title in any sport in the school's 12-year history.
"It's such a small team, David-Goliath kind of thing," said Borowski, whose team finished with 48 points to Punahou's 43. "Everything was right. The kids were ecstatic."
Borowski coached the Punahou boys and girls to state titles from 1974 to 1986, which includes members of the current Punahou coaching staff. He looked at the results after Friday's preliminaries, dummied the point standings, and had Kealakehe in second behind Punahou. Punahou did win the boys championship.
In the girls finals, there were higher than expected finishes. The Waveriders won the 200 medley relay with Foo, Hauanio, Jade Morton and Kelly Jernigan. Hauanio, a freshman, then won the 200 individual medley. Foo and Jernigan went second and fourth in the 100 fly. The "B" team of Jernigan, Malia Santos, Ashley Hauanio and Morton were third in the 200 freestyle relay.
"Everything was right, we could make no mistakes," Borowski said. "The kids got better in all the events all the way to the finals. That's what made the difference."
Kealakehe wasn't even expected to win the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship either, but a Waiäkea disqualification put the Waveriders ahead, with about 10 swimmers for that meet.
The Waveriders also swim for Borowski's Kona Aquatics club team and most of them have been together for years. Having a small team did work to Borowski's benefit as he was able to individually taper their workouts leading up to the league and state finals. But the focus was more on improving individual times than winning a title it had never even come close to.
"We had never even been second before," Borowski said. "We never talked about being state champions."
His son, Logan, was on Hawai'i Prep's winning 200 medley relay team, won the 50 free, was third in the 100 fly and was on the second-place 200 free relay team.
About the only thing that didn't go right for coach Borowski was his choice of attire for the meet. Long pants and a celebratory dunk in the pool didn't go too well together.