Seabury Hall ‘Leaves It All on the Track’ at State Meet
By Rodney S. Yap
Seabury Hall didn’t need more motivation, but that’s exactly what Saturday’s one-point defeat to Punahou will be for the next 365 days.
The Spartans’ “Magnificent Seven” did not fade away under the bright lights of the big stage. Instead, the all-underclassmen girls team from Olinda welcomed the road trip by battling ILH powerhouse Punahou School tooth-and-nail through 16 events.
The Buffanblu scored 28 of their 69 points in the final two events to narrowly escape the upset-minded Spartans. Seabury finished with a Maui Interscholastic League all-time high 68 points in finishing runner-up to Punahou at the Island Movers State Track and Field Championship for the second time in three years.
“Sometimes its better to lose by 20 than one, but I’m proud of them,” said Seabury Hall head coach Bobby Grossman. “We participated with everything we had today. . . . I told the girls before the meet that I wanted them for to leave it all on the track today, and they did just that.”
Two years ago on Maui, Punahou squeaked by the Spartans, 66.33 to 64.
Five of the team’s seven members qualified for the finals and four competed in four or more events.
“Dakota did eight events in two days, and the hardest events you can do,” Grossman said of his daughter, who earned her seventh state title in three years with her win in the girls 3,000 run. “Alyssa (Bettendorf) did five and five, and Christy (Fell) did five and three today, and Ally (Smith) did three and three, with the four (400) and eight (800) back-to-back and the 4 x 4 relay. And we got big points from our freshman high jumper (Amy Ozee), she finished tied for second in the state, that’s huge.”
Grossman finished second in the 1,500, despite breaking the meet record of 4 minutes, 38.83 seconds set in 1999 by Victoria Chang of Punahou. Hawaii Prep Academy’s Zoe Sims broke away from Grossman over the last 70 meters and was timed in 4:36.22 to Grossman’s 4:37.23.
Smith, only a freshman, later pushed Grossman in the 800 as Seabury enjoyed a 3-4 finish with Grossman coming in at 2:20.19 to Smith’s 2:20.84.
“Dakota comes back 20 minutes later after running the 1,500 and 800 and wins the 3,000, so I was proud of her and I was happy about that. She got her win at least.”
“I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t win today but it’s a lot better than we have ever done,” said an emotional and physically spent Dakota after the meet. “I’m just proud of everyone on this team and it’s been the best experience of my high school career. We all had to suck it up and do multiple events today and we did a lot better than we’ve ever done so it turned out pretty good.”
About her win in the 3,000, she said, “I wanted to win at least one race today, so getting second and third really kind of motivated me.”
Coach Grossman said: “I wanted to do it this year so we could repeat next year, but we’ll be fighting again. We want it on Maui next year, so we can put on a big show. I’m happy for the girls.”
Bettendorf certainly made a name for herself — finishing third in the 100 (12.81), 200 (25.56) and second in the 400 (57.22) — as one of the premier female sprinters in front of a jam-packed John Kauinana Stadium at Mililani High School and a live television audience across the state.
“I’m feeling happy because I had no idea this was going to happen,” Bettendorf said. “At the beginning of my training I just wanted to do well in the MIL and I wanted to do my best. I never expected to do well in the finals of the state championships, so this is a little crazy.
“I was feeling really good about the 200, because that’s the one I’ve really been training the most for. I was a little bit disappointed but it was a really, really close race. I just wanted to try my best because that’s all I can do.”
Bettendorf made the final outcome close when she moved Seabury from last place to fourth, running the anchor leg of the 1,600 relay — the meet’s final event.
The MIL’s other two state champions were Baldwin’s Amber Kozaki in the girls pole vault (13 feet) and Maui High’s Christina Lotulelei in the girls discus (139-2). Lotulelei also placed second in the shot put (40-11.50) and Kozaki was sixth in the long jump (16-2.50).
“It feels good,” said Lotulelei, who finished sixth and fifth, respectively last year. “I always wanted to be first place ever since last year. I reached my goal now, I’m really happy.”
In the discus, Lotulelei improved on her top throw from the trials.
“I knew I could throw farther and today I threw farther,” she said of her personal best effort. “Coach Ryan (Ishizu) told me to just let all out, so I did.”
In the shot put, Lotulelei said her big throw was her first on Saturday.
“I almost fell out (of the ring) and I had to catch myself and I stayed in.”
Now, Lotulelei says she has bragging right over her brother, Totauhelotu, who graduated from Maui High last year and finished fifth in the shot put and seventh in the discus at state.
“Now I get to tease him.”
Of her record-setting vault, Kozaki said: “It feels really good to do it at states, when it matters. I don’t think I was jumping at 100%, by my coach (Linden Wada) has been helping me so much. He always tells us, ‘No expectations, just execute.’ I was just thinking whatever happens, happens, you can’t really control what happens.”