Ewaliko Highlights Baldwin’s Win at Yamamoto Meet
By Rodney S. Yap
He was considered a work in progress last year, and finished the season a state champion in the 200 meters.
The mind-boggling amounts of raw energy and determination unleashed from his 6-foot, 180-pound frame is remarkable. To witness the power and eventual top speed he manufactures every time he runs, have turned track-and-field skeptics into fans.
His all-out, take-no-prisoners approach breathes life into a sport that could use a kick in the pants.
“He’s a lot better than last year,” said Baldwin High School coach Gary Sanches. “He’s figuring this out.”
Welcome to the sport of track and field, according to Keelan Ewaliko.
It’s been four months since the three-time Maui Interscholastic League Offensive Player of the Year has thrown a pass or scored a touchdown, but few are concerned. Fans of University of Hawaii football welcome the work in progress as Ewaliko prepares to play for the Warriors next fall.
Even better for his gridiron admirers, now they can see his face when he runs away from the competition. Although track is a relatively new sport to the multi-talented senior, the winning result is no different for the two-sport star.
Ewaliko is currently the state’s best in the 100 (10.79), 200 (21.89) and boys long jump (21-10). He also anchors Baldwin’s 4 x 100 relay (43.10), also ranked No. 1 by MileSplit.com Hawaii going into the last week of March.
The transformation of the quarterback to the sprinter was on display Saturday, March 23, in the finals of the Yamamoto Invitational at War Memorial Stadium.
Minus the football uniform, fans watched Ewaliko, now 20 pounds of muscle heavier than a year ago, capture gold medals in the boys 100, 200 and 400 relay, while setting meet records in the 100 and 200.
His winning non wind-aided time of 10.88 seconds in the 100 was impressive, but not as spectacular as his runaway victory in the 200 at 21.89. Ewaliko lowered his personal-best time by almost .25 tenths of a second and led the next three finishers — Kamehameha Maui’s Jamal Jones (22.50), Baldwin’s Aaron Marzan (22.59), and Maui High’s Mario Fernandez (22.83) — to also run personal best times.
“I was focused and very motivated coming into tonight’s finals,” Ewaliko said. “I told myself I was going to win every event I raced in. I was going to win the 100, we were going to win the 4 x 1 relay and I was going to win the 200. That was just my drive, to win, go hard and do my best.”
Part of Ewaliko’s motivation and determination comes from the fear of losing. It served him well on third-and-long on the football field throughout his career and it continues to aide him over the final 60-70 meters of the 200.
Ewaliko ran down previously unbeaten Jay Braun of Seabury Hall in the 200 finals at the MIL championships last year and again at state when he overtook the meet’s defending champion in Kapolei’s Devin Jenkins.
“I don’t know why I do that, it’s just a habit I have, I keep looking over my shoulder.”
Ewaliko reacts to thoughts of losing by turning it up notch, like a turbo boost a car delivers when the button is pressed.
“You can’t teach that,” Sanches said of Ewaliko’s top gear. “You either have it or you don’t. He’s just a gamer and he knows how to compete.”
Marzan’s view of Ewaliko in the 400-meter relay is the same as the 100 and 200, until he hands off the baton to his classmate on the last exchange. Ewaliko accelerates through the exchange zone when Mazran calls to complete the pass without the baton slowing down.
Once the baton exchanges hands, Marzan yells encouragement to his anchorman. The Bears have been almost unbeatable in the 4 x 100 relay over the last two seasons with Ewaliko. On Saturday, Abraham Reinhardt started in place of Dylan Leigh, who was out sick, and Gerard Nakamura ran the second leg en route to a winning time of 43.64.
Until Ewaliko’s rookie season last year, Baldwin had never won a state boys track and field championship. They go to Mililani Stadium in May in hot pursuit of a repeat performance.
Baldwin rolled up 191 points to easily win the boys team title Saturday over runner-up King Kekaulike (84) and Maui High (80)
Other top performers in the boys division were:
* Jake Jacobs of King Kekaulike ran a state best 51.23 in the boys 400. The state’s silver medalist in 2012 has a PR of 50.02.
* King Kekaulike’s Jason Agapay won the long (21-8.25) and triple (42-3.75) jumps.
* Baldwin’s Tyler Feiteira was voted the meet’s Most Outstanding Male Performer by the participating coaches. Feiteira rebounded from a fall in the high hurdles to win the 300 intermediates (40.85). He also earned second-place finishes in the pole vault (13-9), and long jump (21-6.75)
* Baldwin’s Miki Fangatua had season highs in the shot put (50-6.5) and discus (153-9).
* Baldwin’s James Pearson had a strong showing in winning the 1,500 (4:24.29) and 3,000 (10:07.43).
* Reinhardt posted the state’s top time in the 110 high hurdles (15.16) in only his second race of the year.