Kamehameha keeps Punahou from a sweep at state paddling

The Kamehameha boys paddling team celebrated a close win over Punahou to win the state title. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

The Punahou girls repeated as state champion and the Punahou mixed crew ended Seabury Hall’s three-year title reign.

The race distance for each division was a half-mile, with a turn at the midway point.

The Kamehameha boys finally got the better of Punahou, which swept the ILH season. The league had races of 3-6 miles.

“It was a quick transition to go from long distance to short distance,” Manatad said. “The last (ILH) race was 6 miles. Throughout the season we do half-mile runs just to get ready.”

In the boys race Saturday, the Buffanblu had a wide turn that allowed the Warriors to gain the lead. It was a battle until the very end, with Kamehameha crossing in 3:46.12 and Punahou finishing in 3:46.44. Hawaii Prep was third in 3:49.20.

“We came out of the turn right with Punahou and we knew we needed to pick it up,” said Warriors senior Austin Keale Sunn. “We picked up our stroke rate and tried to stick together as much as possible.”

The other Kamehameha boys final crew members were Papakaiaokanalukai’oli Foster-Blomfield, Stryder Garrett, Conor Higgins and Punia Pale.

The Punahou girls won easily in 4:13.26 and were followed by Kapaa in 4:25.61 and King Kekaulike in 4:25.93.

“We all had that same goal, so having that trust in each other and that drive to train hard every day really allowed us to come together,” said Buffanblu senior Pomaika’i Ogata. “We loved each other and we put it all out there and all the energy and passion allowed us to do as well as we did.”

Punahou coach Becky Fardal said she relied heavily on Ogata and fellow senior Kaya Lee to lead the crew.

“They’re a special crew,” Fardal said. “I put it on my seniors, Pomai and Kaya, to bring everyone together and that bond made the difference this year.”

Ogata and Lee also were on last year’s Punahou state champion girls crew.

The other Punahou girls final crew members were Phoenix Clarke, Mehana Leafchild, Dillyn Lietzke and Ayla Sprecher.

The mixed final, the last of 15 races Saturday, allowed the three boys on Punahou’s winning crew a chance a redemption.

Punahou finished in 4:03.80 and was followed by Hawaii Prep in 4:14.69 and Kamehameha-Maui in 4:19.36.

Gabriel El Hajji, Trevor Hemmings and Aukina Hunt also were on the Punahou crew, which lost to Kamehameha in the boys final.

“As a team we performed really well together,” said Hemmings, a senior. “We had a good start and a good turn and in the second half we just brought it home. In the prior boys race, we lost so we were a little angry about that. We had to finish it off with a win.”

The other three Buffanblu mixed team members — Leafchild, Lee and Lietzke — also were part of the winning girls crew.

“It was a really good race,” Leafchild said of the mixed final. “We had a super awesome crew. Everyone was just blending super awesome together and we were just having fun.”


  1. Chocolate Chip February 5, 2019 4:21 pm

    Ke Akua. Ohana. Kamehameha. IMUA! WARRIORS!

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