Kamehameha-Kapalama has pretty much dominated state canoe paddling since its inception in 2002, but there is still one thing left to accomplish that nobody has done before.
The boys crew will be going for its third straight title, it has won back-to-back three times but never completed a three-peat. The ILH champions go in knowing that the ILH has won the race in each of the last five years.
The First Hawaiian Bank Canoe Paddling Championships are scheduled for Saturday at Kahului Harbor on Maui.
The Kamehameha-Kapalama girls will be looking to repeat and the mixed crew will try to regain the title it lost to Punahou last year after winning the previous three years.
To further illustrate the success of Kamehameha’s program, nine paddlers have won three or more gold medals in state history, led by Tyler Meditz’ five. His record is safe for one more year, as the canoes are full of up-and-comers.
Most gold medals in state paddling championships:
5-Tyler Meditz, Kamehameha
4-Azariah Distajo, Kamehameha
4-Ruckus Lindsey, Kamehameha
3-Lori Nakamura, Kamehameha
3-Makana Bruhn, Kamehameha
3-Iams Fu, Kamehameha
3-Iisha Fu, Kamehameha
3-Savili Bartley, Kamehameha
3-Tressie Ostermiller, Kamehameha
Here are the medal winners for each year. You may have to zoom in after you click the links to the PDFs. Feel free to report any errors in the comments.
Kyle Galdeira offers a glimpse of what to expect tomorrow:
Kamehameha, Punahou and Pac-Five have combined to win 12 of the 13 state championships in Hawaii history with the Warriors claiming seven crowns during that stretch and the Buffanblu and Wolf Pack notching three and two victories. A model of considtency, Kamehameha has finished within the top three at all 13 state regattas except one (2008).
The lone exception to the ILH’s streak of success came in 2013 when Seabury Hall upset the Warriors to win the girls’ title; now, the state field will be competing in what Kamehameha coach Kehau Meyer described as the Spartans’ home waters.
“Anything can happen when you race against programs like these with great coaching staffs and the right blend of girls,” said Meyer. “Anything can happen; it’s great for the sport to have this level of competition.”
Castle represents the OIA’s top challenger after winning its first league crown since 2007 at the OIA championships two weeks ago at Keehi Lagoon. The Knights are seeking the first-ever state title by an OIA school in girls’ state competition.
“I don’t count anybody out, and it’s humbling to go into someone else’s home turf,” Meyer said. “I’m excited to see what happens and I really want to see some good paddling.”
Kamehameha’s boys have won four of the last five state championships; their lone runner-up finish during that span came in 2012 when Punahou eked out a victory over the Warriors in Hilo Bay by less than two tenths of a second.
The Warriors have won their titles in bunches, having claimed six state crowns on three two-peats.
“Hats off to Kamehameha, I salute them,” said longtime Punahou coach Rocky Higgins whose crew included three juniors and three sophomores. “They came back after losing two in a row, and I thought ‘Man, this is a great moment for us, we’re on our way.’ They rallied and really dialed in; it came down to another epic battle between Punahou and Kamehameha.
The Warriors will face a stiff test from OIA champion Kaiser, as well as Radford, which went undefeated in the OIA West, and Kalaheo, which completed an undefeated OIA East campaign and came up just short of adding to its run of four consecutive OIA titles.
And, of course, the youthful yet talented Buffanblu are poised to put an end to Kamehameha’s run.
“I just told (Kamehameha’s coaching staff including skipper Napali Woode), ‘Jeez, can you at least allow me one ILH championship? But, I told my guys, if you measure your success by only winning, then you’re going to have a rough life. You have to rally, come back and do it again.”
Kamehameha is believed to hold the record for the fastest time recorded by a high school crew in Keehi Lagoon (3:32.73 in the 2011 state boys’ championship race), while Punahou established the record for the fastest ½-mile effort with a blistering 3:29.605 posted at the 2012 HHSAA championship prelims in Hilo Bay.
After winning its second consecutive OIA mixed division title — the school’s second of three canoe paddling titles in program history — two weeks ago, Kaiser appeared both talented and confident enough to challenge its ILH counterparts for state gold.
However, as was the case when they finished third in the state last season, the Cougars will be hard-pressed to overcome the dominance of late by Kamehameha and Punahou.
The Buffanblu ended the Warriors’ run of three consecutive mixed titles and beat Kamehameha by nearly four seconds last year in Keehi Lagoon.
Punahou is favored, albeit slightly, to repeat after claiming the ILH mixed title nearly two weeks ago, but will face a test from Kaiser, Kalaheo, Kamehameha as well as Seabury Hall and Kamehameha-Maui—both of which are expected to be well prepared to navigate the home waters of Kahului Harbor.