Mililani girls win relay despite agony of baton drop

Mililani’s 4×400 relay team overcame adversity to win at the state meet. From left to right are: Mackenzie Reed, Amber Gilbert, Ryanne Navarro and Imani Johnson. Courtesy of Dane Matsunaga.

You’ve heard the saying, “They dropped the ball.”

In this case, it was the baton that fell and it almost dearly cost the Mililani girls 4×400 relay team. Somehow, despite the mistake, the Trojans barely qualified for the finals, where they put the error in the past and won the event.

During the state track meet trials Friday at Keaau on the Big Island, the pass from the Trojans’ third runner to the anchor did not go well. As a matter of fact, it stayed on the ground for 11.3 seconds, according to Mililani coach Nate Aragaki.

“We timed it and that’s how long it was on the ground before she picked it,” Aragaki said. “(Co-head coach) Dane (Matsunaga) was yelling, everybody was yelling for her to pick it up. The Seabury Hall team passed them and the Kamehameha-Maui team was right there. They managed to get second (4 minutes, 16.62 seconds behind Seabury Hall’s 4:09.74).”

But that was just the first of four heats in the trials and the team did not think they had a real good chance at making the six-team final.

“They had the top time going into trials,” Aragaki said about his four Trojans. “They were thinking, ‘We just have to qualify.’ Then things started crashing down. They had to wait for the next three heats. It was raining, so none of the other teams ran that fast and they didn’t find out they qualified (sixth out of six teams) until the announcement came. They thought they were pretty much out of it. They were crying and trying to console each other.”

In a driving rain during Saturday’s finals, the Mililani girls of junior Imani Johnson, sophomore Ryanne Navarro, freshman Amber Gilbert and sophomore Mackenzie Reed (the first through fourth legs) took advantage of their second chance and blazed to a 4:03.91 time for the victory.

Watch Reed finishing up the victory here.

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