Punahou’s Yamafuji sets Hawaii pole vault mark

Punahou sophomore J. Kai Yamafuji cleared a Hawaii state record 16 feet in the pole vault competition at the ILH track and field championships on Wednesday. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Punahou’s J. Kai Yamafuji pole vaulted higher than anyone in Hawaii history on Wednesday, according to his coach Tom Hintnaus and ILH track and field coordinator Jeff Meister.

Yamafuji, a sophomore, cleared 16 feet. A bit earlier, he had made 15 feet, 3 inches as did rival and defending state and ILH champion Logan Rubasch of ‘Iolani.

Yamafuji then went on to make 15-9 on his first try and 16-0 on his second attempt.

Yamafuji was immediately hugged by Hintnaus, a former Olympian after clearing 16-0. His personal best was 15-5 earlier this year.

“I got up (from the mat) and fell back down and when I got up,” Yamafuji said. “Coach was there congratulating me. I really couldn’t believe it.”

The state high school meet record is 15-3, set by St. Anthony’s Bubba McLean in 1997. Baldwin’s Kainoa Tom cleared 15-4 at the Punahou Relays in 2015.

Yamafuji and Rubasch, a senior who will attend Columbia on a track and field scholarship, will compete against each other again at the upcoming state meet.

The field events of the ILH track and field championships were held on Wednesday. All track events will be held Friday at Kamehameha.


  1. Stevo April 25, 2018 11:05 pm


  2. Phyllis Kerlin April 26, 2018 6:21 am

    Remarkable!!!! Go Kai Go!!!! With much love from one of your California Aunties, Phyllis

  3. Charles Lacaden April 26, 2018 9:58 am

    Awesome job young man!!! Congratulations!!!

  4. hwnstyll April 26, 2018 10:28 am

    It is too bad with the thousands of kids across the state that have been competing in track this year that this is the only coverage we see. Why Softball,baseball, golf, and volleyball all get more coverage is beyond me.
    Maybe a SA writer might want to go to a meet and see the young men and women competing their hearts out regardless of the weather.

  5. Jordan April 26, 2018 1:30 pm

    hwnstyll I couldn’t agree more. You want to see the best athletes in the state? they are at the track and field meets.

  6. Sammy Marumoto April 26, 2018 5:44 pm

    Oh my gosh!! Way to go!! I’m so proud!!!

  7. t&ffan April 27, 2018 5:44 pm

    agree with 4 and 5, why track and field meets not covered and results provided?

  8. Vee Miyake Yamafuji May 3, 2018 9:10 pm

    Hurray for Sportswriter Nick Abramo on his coverage of J. Kai Yamafuji’s 16’ record shattering pole vault. Thanks to the Star-Advertiser for publishing the full page story.

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