It’s been quite a ride for two Kaiser girls track and field standouts.
The Cougars’ Kristen O’Handley has a scholarship offer from Portland State, and teammate Tommi Hintnaus will walk on to Arizona State. Both were part of Kaiser’s fourth straight OIA team title Saturday at Pearl City’s brand-new track.
O’Handley had a huge night, breaking the OIA championship meet record in the high jump (5 feet, 5 1/4 inches), winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs and taking part in the winning 4-x-100 relay with Hintnaus and juniors Juliette Lum and Hannah Hollenbeck.
Originally, the same four relay girls were going to run the 4-x-400, but Hollenbeck was not feeling well and O’Handley decided to sit it out. Hintnaus and Lum joined two other girls and placed fourth.
Incidentally, Hintnaus and O’Handley were part of the OIA meet record 4-x-400 team (4:00.03) two years ago, the same year the Cougars went all the way and won the state championship.
Hintnaus also had a bright performance Saturday, winning the pole vault with a personal-best 11-7. The daughter of former Olympic pole vaulter Tom Hintnaus got an academic scholarship from Arizona State and will be working to get an athletic scholarship. She didn’t meet the pole vault 12-0 requirement for that, but she’s working on it and has another shot at the May 12-13 state championships at Keaau High on the Big Isle.
Hintnaus, who was tried and failed at an OIA record 12-1 pole vault, also placed second in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
“I’m getting up there,” she said. “I just gotta get a stronger plant.”
Of course, Hintnaus gets inspiration from her dad, but she also gets motivation from O’Handley.
“Dad taught me to always work hard and stay focused on your goal,” she said. “Kristen inspires me every day to be the best I can be in school, in sports and everything. She’s my best friend.
“I really wanted to go to a D-I Pac-12 school and Arizona State is amazing,” she added before saying she wish she had inherited her father’s height (5’10 1/2) and what she called “monkey arms.”
Hintnaus is 5-6.
Cougars coach Kevin Kruszona is amazed at how far O’Handley — who has been named the school’s Class of 2017 valedictorian — has come.
“Kristen is a diamond in the rough,” he said. “When she was a freshman, you just would never knew a skinny little redhead girl how much she’s improved with the help of her parents who took her to the gym in addition to the gym at Kaiser. She’s just been getting stronger every year.”
“Her and Tommi are role models for the rest of the team. They see what you’ve got to do to get to where they are, not just athletically, but also academically. Us coaches are very proud of them.”
O’Handley’s father also got her involved in track.
“Dad did it in high school and after high school and he liked it and wanted me to do it,” she said.
There seems to be a battle brewing in the 4-x-100 at states. Punahou clocked 49.64 seconds at the ILH championship meet, but Kaiser beat the Buffanblu in a preseason meet.
No time was available for the Kaiser’s OIA 4-x-100 win due to a timer malfunction. It was the only event of the night in which the timer malfunctioned.
A conspiracy so Punahou doesn’t know Kaiser’s time? No. But it is interesting that we don’t know the Cougars’ last result before states.
“The (Punahou and Kaiser) girls know each other and they all care for everybody and both teams will be competitive at the state meet,” Kruszona said. “I think we’re the only two teams under 50 seconds this year. Our girls are looking forward to that competition. They look at it as an opportunity, since Punahou (Alialani Yamafuji, Kealoha Scullion, Stevie Marvin and Kaylie Klausing) has the better time (so far).”
Kruszona gave props to two girls who stepped in for Hollebeck during Thursday’s trials to get the Cougar into the finals — Ginon Jones in the 4-x-100 and Maddison Corso in the 4-x-400.
ONLY ONE WINNER FOR BOYS TEAM CHAMPION MILILANI
The winning Mililani boys team had only one winner on the night — the 4-x-100 relay team of Kaleo Pogue, Jaymen Yadao, Ryan Chang and Jaratt Kaopuiki-Ota.
But to rack up the points, the Trojans relied on a pile of contributors:
>> Pogue placed second in the 200 and fourth in the 100.
>> Kaopuiki-Ota placed second in the 100 and third in the 200.
>> Tyler Stiles placed third in the 3,000.
>> Sean Dagan placed third in the pole vault.
>> Timothy Schiller placed fourth in the 1,500 and the 3,000.
>> Hamilton Howard placed fourth in the 400 and sixth in the 200.
>> Yadao placed fourth in the long jump.
>> The Trojans’ 4-x400 relay team of Pogue, Hamilton Howard, Rafel Soberman and Mic Chapur-Ferrera placed fourth.
“We kind of nickel and dimed it for the points,” Mililani coach Nate Aragaki said. Technically, Aragaki is head girls coach and Dane Matsunaga is the boys coach. Aragaki concentrates on distance and Matsunaga on sprints.
Mililani held a 61-56 lead over Leilehua heading into the final two events, the 3,000 and the 4x-400 relay. Stiles and Schiller added 10 points to the total to make it 71-56, wrapping up the win. The final count was 75-56 after the fourth-place finish by the 4-x-400 team.
AIEA’S MAMAI-LAGAFUAINA GETS PR ON LAST TRY
Aiea junior Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina already had a winning shot put throw of 41-8, but she stepped on to get a personal-best 42-10 3/4 on her final try.
A crowd of well-wishers erupted with cheers.
“It was kind of different seeing girls in my range of distance,” she said. “It took me a while to get used to that. My coaches and teammates helped me push to that PR. I would have been fine with the 41-8. I had nothing to lose.”
ROOSEVELT’S BRYANT GOES ON POLE VAULT ROLL
Every so often, there were cheers from the pole vault venue as two from Roosevelt – Jamir Bryant and Lon Okami – were battling with Mililani’s Dagan.
Dagan hit 11-0 and Okami did 11-6 before dropping out. Bryant kept going, clearing 13-3 easily before failing on his three tries at 13-6.
TORRES FIGHTS OFF TEAMMATE TWICE, MISSES RECORD
Kalaheo distance runner Avery Torres shook off challenges from Mustangs teammate Colby Otero to win the 1,500 and the 3,000.
It was super close until near the end in the 1,500 and Torres pulled it out by a little more than a second – 4:16.58 to 4:17.61.
Torres was gunning for a record in the 3,000, and he thought he might have had it when his coach told him he had a hand-held 9:00.00. The record is 8:59.99.
Torres’ official time was 9:02.66.
LEILEHUA’S BECKWITH UP AND COMING
Leilehua’s Aosha Beckwith is only a freshman and she missed tying the triple jump record by 2 1/4 inches. Beckwith placed first, though, and also took honors in the long jump and placed fifth in the 400.