Punahou’s Guieb makes arduous comeback

Punahou's Riley Guieb rehabbed for sixth months and is now enjoying every second of his senior season. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Punahou’s Riley Guieb rehabbed for sixth months and is now enjoying every second of his senior season. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Sometimes fans take for granted what athletes go through just to get on the field of play.

Let Riley Guieb‘s story be a reminder of the persistence needed to fight through a long battle with injury.

The right-handed senior pitcher for the seventh-ranked Punahou baseball team almost didn’t make it out to the diamond this season, but there he was on Saturday making a statement in a big game — a 5-4 victory over No. 4 Saint Louis in nine innings. It was the Buffanblu’s second straight upset; on Friday, they dispatched No. 2 Kamehameha 7-3 and are now headed to the Interscholastic League of Honolulu postseason tournament with a boatload of momentum.

“My rehab was about six months,” Guieb said about his elbow injury. “I was supposed to get Tommy John (elbow) surgery. I shouldn’t even be pitching, but luckily I found a way to do it. It was long and grueling.”

But how, exactly, did he do it?

“My doctor, Calvin Oishi, looked at my scans and Pat Ariki and them at Spots Medicine (Hawaii) rehabbed me back and fixed my form in some ways. Dr. Cal gave me the OK and we worked together with Sports Medicine to make sure I was ready to come back. I’m really confident now.”

Guieb clasped his 10 fingers together with no space to give an idea of what a healthy elbow ligament looks like. He then parted his fingers, creating more space in a loose fashion to give a picture of what his ligament may look like.

“Mine is probably like that,” he said. “It’s a high-grade tear in the elbow. I don’t know if I’m 100 percent, but I’m 100 percent mentally and that can overcome any physical thing. I just try my best. My arm feels good after games. I’m enjoying it every second I can and if it gives out, it gives out and I’ll be OK with it. I’ll have surgery or call it quits. Right now I feel great.”

Punahou (9-5) will continue an unfinished game against Maryknoll (1-13) on Tuesday before starting the league tournament on Friday. The Buffanblu hope to snare a state-tourney berth.

“(On Friday and Saturday), we showed that these are two teams (Kamehameha and Saint Louis) we are capable of beating,” Guieb said. “It just shows we have a good team overall. We try to come out with as much fire and intensity as possible every game. We’re a team that feeds off that energy, so bringing that energy to the games helps us to perform the way we do. Closing was my role last year and it is again this year. Being in those spots — no outs and bases loaded — I feed off that.”

In the extra-inning win over Saint Louis, Punahou trotted out seven pitchers before going to Gueib for the final two innings. And they were in good hands. He earned the win by pitching two scoreless frames, allowing two hits and striking out three.

Cole Cabrera, the Buffanblu center fielder who is being scouted by the majors, is a fan of his fellow senior.

“Riley is a bulldog,” Cabrera said. “He did so much rehab coming back to make it to his senior season. He’s our guy and he continues to show that he’s a competitor and we need him.”


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