Mililani principal Fred Murphy made the best of a bad situation at the state track meet.
Led by Murphy, three seniors from the Trojans’ Oahu Interscholastic Association championship track team — Kaleo Pogue, Hamilton Howard and Jaratt Kaopuiki-Ota — were given a mini-graduation ceremony, complete with caps, gowns, lei and diplomas during Fridays trials. By qualifying for and running in the finals Saturday at Keaau High on the Big Isle, the three were unable to attend their school’s graduation ceremony at Aloha Stadium the same evening.
“I thought the way they handled it, it was really well done,” Howard said about Murphy and other Mililani staffers’ choice to give the athletes something to remember about high school graduation day. “It was in front of a pretty decent crowd. They were cheering and giving us a round of applause. It’s not the same exact feel of a real graduation, but it’s the best they could have done with what they had.”
Hamilton, Pogue and Kaopuiki-Ota — along with sophomore Ryan Chang — broke the school record in the 4×100 relay (42.87 seconds), placing second in qualifying Friday. They eventually placed fourth (42.90) in the finals on Saturday.
“They (Murphy and the other staffers) came over, did the ceremony with them in their caps and gowns, announced the kids’ names and handed them a big diploma,” said Nate Aragaki, one of two Mililani head track coaches with Dane Matsunaga. “They all shook hands and everybody who was there took pictures and they sang the alma mater.
“They got to run and probably did about as well as they could do. They were disappointed they didn’t win, but you can’t win all the time. Their finals time was just a hair off another school record. They all ran pretty good races and all in all, it was good for them and exciting.”