By Rodney S. Yap
The Baldwin High School boys track team is looking to make a positive impression Friday when it competes at the Honolulu Marathon Association Invitational at the Kamehameha Schools Kūnuiākea Stadium Track.
According to coach Gary Sanches the Bears are taking a 12-member team that includes several of the state’s best performers in their respective individual events. The one-day meet appears to have drawn the best talent from across the state as athletes from all five leagues are represented in the 32-event schedule.
Sanches said the competition is stacked in the boys division and will serve as an early preview to the upcoming state championships next month on the Big Island. Unfortunately, the team’s departure hurts the Victorino Ohana Invitational set for Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, here at the Satoki Yamamoto Track & Field Facility.
“It’s just too bad that it’s the same time as the Victorino meet,” said Sanches. “We usually take a trip this time of year to go to the Punahou Relays or something. For us, the Victorino meet it a casualty of circumstance.”
Sanches said his team returns to the Valley Isle on Saturday and plans to participate in the relay finals of the Victorino meet.
Baldwin’s strengths are spread out — from the pole vault where Tyler Feitiera is the top entry at 13 feet, 6 inches, second only to Kihei Charter’s Lucas Zarro (14-0), to the the 1,500 where James Pearson is seeded second at 4 minutes, 17.51 seconds. The team’s nucleus, however, is the sprints.
As it stands, Baldwin has three of the top eight times in the 100 meters. The Bears sprint quartet of Ryne Yokouchi, Aaron Marzan, Vetekina Malafu and Keelan Ewaliko ranked No. 1 in the 4×100 relay at 43.3. The next best relay team is Kamehameha Kapalama in 44.41.
Sanches said he would be disappointed if his 4×100 relay team did not collect blue ribbons on Friday.
The state’s top sprinter and arguably the fastest human in Hawaii, senior Devin Jenkins of Kapolei High School, is listed as the top entrant Friday in the 100 (10.34) and 200 (21.44). Jenkins is the state’s defending champion in both races. His 10.34 is a converted hand-timed 10.1 recorded earlier this year. If the mark is non-wind-aided, it would rank No. 1 in the nation according to the latest high school boys list complied by Track & Field News. The next best time is 10.40 by Abraham Hall of South Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie, Texas.
Saint Louis School’s wide receiver Jeremy Tabuyo is battling his way back from injury and ran 11.24 in his season debut last week. He finished second to Jenkins at state last year in 10.84.
Malafu is also the state’s premier 110-meter high hurdler in 14.90, and teammates Abraham Reinhardt (15.50) and Feitiera (15.60) are ranked fourth and eighth, respectively. Feitiera is also seeded fourth in Friday’s 300 intermediate hurdles, right behind defending state champion Aaron Cox of Waipahu.
Meanwhile, Reinhardt is seeded fourth in the triple jump (41-3) behind teammate Vili Tolutau’s 41-7. Ewaliko is seeded third in the long jump (21-0.25) and Malafu fifth (20-9).
After all is said and done, Baldwin’s best individual mark/time thus far this season is from Utah-bound football standout Pasoni Tasini in the boys discus where his 172-10 is more than 12 feet better than the next best throw. Tasini is also No. 2 in the shot put (51-5.5).
Baldwin coach Anthony Perry said Tasini is familiar with Kapalama’s throwing rings.
“He threw there as a sophomore at state,” Perry said. “It’s very similar to Maui, the only difference is Maui produces a constant wind compared to inconsistent gusts at Kapalama.”
Perry said Tasini has matured in both ring events and consistently throws 170 and 50-feet plus in both disciplines during practice. His discus mark was ranked 17th in the nation just two weeks ago.
“He’s starting to mentally understand throwing. His problem is he trys to hard. He has to relax on his spin and his getting more consistent at that.”
In addition, Perry said Miki Fangatua and BJ Wilhelm-Ioane both routinely throw in excess of 160 feet in practice. Fangatua established his PR last week at 156-10.
Also making the trip to Oahu is Maui High’s distance ace Nicola Perez-Garreaud, who is seeded No. 1 in the 1,500 with his record-breaking 4:16.20 from the Kamakea Meet last Thursday.
On the girls side, Baldwin’s dynamic duo of Amber Kozaki and Kristine Felix are scheduled to participate in next week’s Punahou Relays. The pair are ranked 1-2 in the girls pole vault, respectively, not to mention the long jump where both have landed marks of 17-feet plus or the 100 meters where Felix set a new meet record (12.30) at Kamakea.
Altogether, six new meet records were established at the Kamakea Memorial Meet and one other — boys 100 — was tied by Malafu, Ewaliko and Seabury Hall’s Jay Braun at 11.10. Braun also set a new mark in the 200 (22.40).
Kozaki set a new mark in the pole vault at 12 feet. Teammate Alesha Martin’s 37-1 toss set a new record in the shot put and the Bears’ 400 relay team of Yokouchi, Marzan, Malafu and Ewaliko was clocked in record-breaking fashion at 43.30.