Unorthodox, but precise: Villanueva, Silva

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.

From left: Isabel Villanueva, coach Delwin Dang and Toni Silva.
From left: Isabel Villanueva, coach Delwin Dang and Toni Silva.
Mid-Pacific won the girls team title.
Mid-Pacific won the girls team title.
Darren Nirei of Hawaii Baptist won the boys individual title.
Darren Nirei of Hawaii Baptist won the boys individual title.
Punahou captured the boys team title.
Punahou captured the boys team title.

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