Hilo’s Gianna Yokoe among new stone-cold state champs in air riflery

Hilo’s Gianna Yokoe adjusted her rifle on her way to winning the girls individual state title in air riflery. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

It isn’t common, a sister and brother winning state championships.

Gianna Yokoe liked that idea, so she withstood the pressure and rallied to win the girls individual title at the Civilian Marksmanship Program/HHSAA State Air Riflery Championships at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall on Tuesday.

“I kind of liked the noise. I feed off the energy,” she said of the excitable audience during the championship round. “My brother (Guy) won in 2016. It seems unreal.”

Guy made the trip to Oahu to support his alma mater and his sister. Gianna Yokoe’s score after three rounds was 540. The championship round tally — 10 shots from standing position — bumped her final score to 631.9.

“I believe my score was 547. She kicks my butt, my score,” Guy Yokoe said. “I’ve been away at college. That would be hard of me to coach her. I helped when I could but it wasn’t much.”

The boys team championship chase was a thriller. Moanalua won its third state title in four years, edging defending champion Mid-Pacific by the slimmest of margins. Na Menehune and the Owls were tied in the final tally, and tied in the first tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker came down to the team scores for the final 10 shots of the previous round — kneeling position.

Chase Nakata (551), Alec Fong (535), Aidan Fong (528) and Alexander Paul (521) earned the title for Moanalua.

“With our families, our student-athletes, our athletic director, we have a lot of support,” Moanalua coach Bruce Yonesaki said.

Yonesaki wasn’t involved with air riflery as a student at Kaimuki High School. He took an interest much later.

“I’m in law enforcement, my primary job. When my son was in the program, I thought that they needed some help. I talked to the coach at the time, offered my help. I started out as a volunteer for two years while my son was on the team,” he said.

He later became the girls coach, and now the boys’ coach. The training he received in law enforcement carries over to an extent.

“A lot of it is mental, so there’s quite a bit. It’s a mental, disciplined approach. Making good decisions. Certain breathing techniques, but most it is mental. Knowing when to take the shot, not to take the shot. Focus on the fine details,” Yonesaki said. “That’s the difference when you’re competing at the highest level.”

MPI did have at least one major highlight as Michael Tam captured the boys individual title. Tam led at the end of three rounds by four points, and then held on in the championship round to edge Cade Aihara 639.8-637.1.

Sacred Hearts coach Carlton Lum was in a nostalgic mood after the Lancers won the girls team championship with a score of 2,118 points, 12 ahead of runner-up Pearl City. Morgan Harrison (542), Quinn Lum (531), Sun “Judy” He (529) and Anna Sakai (516) brought the trophy back to Sacred Hearts, which is also the ILH champion. The Lancers had 20 bulls-eyes out of 20 shots in prone position.

The seniors, seven in all, came up as freshmen, practicing eight months in a row each year. They earned their coach’s trust.

“The easy part was giving them the authority to make decisions. They pretty much told me who they wanted to shoot each match. They called the strategy. They discussed it among themselves. They’re very independent,” Lum said. “I have a lot of confidence in this group. They were on a mission. I just got out of the way. I guess you’d call me our gatekeeper.”

Sacred Hearts’ Quinn Lum took aim during the Civilian Marksmanship Program/HHSAA State Air Riflery Championships. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Lum credited the support of the school and, especially, athletic director Ryan Hogue.

“He is totally behind us,” he said.

With a strong JV team coming up — that squad won the ILH JV title — Sacred Hearts is in position to battle for titles in upcoming years. Lum doesn’t think about a potential dynasty.

“Dynasty? I don’t really know what that word means. All the ILH teams, and you saw all the outer islands, every team is competitive. Any day, anybody can win. I don’t think we would be a dynasty,” he said. “We try our best.”


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