Bittersweet MIL Championship Win for Seabury Girls
By Rodney S. Yap
The Seabury Hall girls track team had just won its second Maui Interscholastic League championship in three years with a school-record 150 points.
The Spartans won every individual track event and nine of 16 total events Saturday, April 27, at the Yamamoto Track & Field Facility.
A crowd of about 2,000 witnessed Seabury’s dominance in the sprints with Alyssa Bettendorf sweeping the 100, 200, and 400. They witnessed Seabury’s dominance in the distance events with Dakota Grossman sweeping the 800, 1,500 and 3,000. And they witnessed Seabury’s dominance in the hurdles and triple jump, too, where Christy Fell won the 100 highs, 300 intermediates and the team’s only field event.
So why the tears at the end of the meet?
Well, they did not finish the 4×100 relay. But that’s not why.
Fell was seeded second in the long jump at 15-11, but fouled all three of her attempts in the trials and did not qualify. She could have got eight more points and would have finished with a meet-high 38 individual points.
But that’s not why half of Seabury Hall’s eight-member team was crying in the infield following the girls’ victory in the 4×400 relay — the last event of the evening.
MIL officials ruled Seabury Hall interfered with another team’s runner following a pass in the exchange zone and was disqualified for the violation. The decision costs the Spartans 10 points and the MIL meet record of 4 minutes, 10.35 seconds, set by King Kekaulike in 2009.
The Spartans ran an unofficial 4:07.50, well below Na Alii’s record from four years ago.
In 2011, the Spartans won their first MIL girls team title, but missed the 4×400 record by .5 one-hundreds of a second — clocking a 4:10.40.
The bittersweet victory weighed heavy on the coaches, too.
“We’re a really good team and we’re still a state contender,” said Seabury’s Bobby Grossman. “If we just do what we’re going to do we probably would come out of it with the runner-up trophy, and you would think that would be pretty good for us, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re not racing for second place. We did that once already.”
Seabury Hall finished second to Punahou at the state championships two years ago. The Spartans scored 64 points, 2.75 points behind the Buffanblu.
“I think there’s been some extra pressure put on some individuals that maybe are not ready for it,” said Grossman of his all-underclassmen team.
The heartache was double for Seabury Hall’s Dakota Grossman, who earlier in the night missed breaking the 1,500-meter run record set by former Spartan Tia Ferguson in 2004. Grossman was timed in 4:44.47 and Ferguson’s record is 4:44.39.
“She was pushing to try and break it, so there was some disappointment there, because it was only eight one-hundreds of a second,” said the proud father and coach of his junior daughter, who was undefeated in everything this season until the 4×400 relay.
On Sunday, after a full night’s rest, Dakota Grossman mince no words about her dismay.
“It was definitely devastating,” said the six-time state champion runner. “Even though we had been winning all night I felt like we took a big loss. It was really hard to enjoy the team title in the end because everybody was so upset with the 4×4 and it was just frustrating when you put so much effort into it. Especially after everybody had already done three races and we tried really hard and it was just like it was all for nothing.
“I can’t really explain it but it was definitely horrible to get disqualified right at the end. The girl who kind of messed up and got us disqualified is just going to have to use this as a learning experience. I’m not going to hold it against her, because she is kind of new, but it was definitely frustrating.”
The older Grossman added: “Dakota knows what’s at stake and what she wants out of it. She has the most invested.”
Seabury had its hands full all night.
Fell did have a big night, establishing personal best in the 100 hurdles, where she narrowly beat Baldwin’s Sanoe Anguay, 15.84 to 15.97. In the 300s Fell PR’d at 49.13 and she won the triple jump in 34 feet, 3.25 inches. King Kekaulike’s Brooks Carillo was second at 33-8.25.
“I was happy for Christy, she did really well,” Coach Grossman said.
Bettendorf won the 100, but needed a surge over the last 10 meters to beat Baldwin’s Amber Kozaki, 12.53 to 12.75.
“I think some of our younger girls are learning that you have to keep progressing and that you have to do it, regardless if you have the competition, you have to do it at practice. We have to do that over the next week and I’m hoping that we mature a little. I don’t think we’re mature enough right now to win states, unless something happens over the next two weeks.”
Seabury Hall went 1-2 in the 400 with Bettendorf running an impressive 59.23. She was pushed by freshman Ally Smith’s 60.51. Smith, Grossman said, ran the fastest 400 split in the 4×400 race.
The Spartans also went 1-2 in the 1,500, with Kiana Smith finishing behind Dakota in 5:12.18.
The Spartans swept the 1,500, for a maximum 24 points, with Grossman (2:21.66), Ally Smith (2:25.40) and Kiana Smith (2:26.17).
Other girls double winners were Kozaki in the pole vault (13-0; new meet record) and long jump (17-3.75). Maui High’s Christina Lotulelei won the shot put with a personal best of 39-10.5 and broke the meet record in the girls discus with a throw of 137-7.
The girls other standout performance came in the high jump where Kamehameha Maui’s Raven Poepoe matched her season’s best 5-2.