That was fun.
It’s not often that little quirks in fundamentals lead to championship-level performance, but that’s exactly the case with St. Francis seniors Isabel Villanueva and Toni Silva. The two finished first and second in the Civilian Air Marksman/HHSAA air riflery state championships on Tuesday. (See the story in Wednesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, subscriber content.)
Their coach, Delwin Dang, knows shooting well. But he allowed for their slightly different shooting styles because, well, they worked. Villanueva finished with a 548 total and Silva tallied a 545. The two teammates could’ve flip-flopped positions on another day, that much they easily acknowledge.
Villanueva’s health condition (linear scleroderma) makes physical activity a challenge. She wanted to participate in some kind of sport. Air riflery was in its infancy at St. Francis during her freshman year. She can pull a trigger, but she can’t make a fist. Even with the ache and pain of holding her rifle steady, Villanueva adapted and thrived.
Really, she’s a hero. She’ll never ‘fess up to that, though. Her coach, Dang, was so proud of his shooters. When I finally interviewed him, the tears fell. He admires these kids, and behind me, I could hear someone choke up while watching him weep tears of joy.
I didn’t dare turn the camera away.
Some photos below from the championships at Blaisdell Center.