The most hyped matchup in last year’s state track and field championships was Seabury Hall’s Alyssa Bettendorf vs. Diamond Briscoe of Pearl City.
This year the big races will happen in girls hurdles.
Hawaii Prep’s Emma Taylor, a junior, will be going for her third straight gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles on Saturday on Maui, but it will be anything but a coronation for the three-sport star who is participating in her third state event of the year after volleyball and a state crown in soccer.
She will run up against Iolani’s Lindsey Combs for the third straight year.
Taylor beat Combs by nine-tenths of a second in the event last year after beating Kauai’s Kawehi Louis Diamond by three tenths in 2013. Combs finished fourth as a sophomore that year.
The dope sheet says to expect anything. Taylor’s quickest time this year is 14.94 seconds. Combs has put up a 14.95.
Baldwin sophomore Kaitlin Smith is behind them at 15.12 this year after finishing eighth last year.
Kahuku’s Zhane Santiago set the record of 14.55 in the trials in 2011, beating her closest competitor by a half second. With Taylor and Combs pushing each other, there is no telling how low they can go.
As good as that race might be, it could be just a warmup for the second hurdles event when Taylor and Combs will go at it again.
Taylor is the reigning champion in the 300 hurdles while Combs is the 2013 champion. It is the only race this year that will pit two gold medalists against each other.
Combs, a senior, figures to have a edge this time, her best time in 2015 was a blazing 43.40 seconds while the best Taylor has been able to do is 44.66. Taylor beat Combs by eight tenths of a second in last year’s state meet and fell short to her by .56 in 2013.
Other athletes trying to repeat as gold medalists include:
>> Iolani’s Kamuela Borden in the boys shot put despite trailing Kamehameha’s Alema Kapoi on the dope sheet.
>> Baldwin sophomore Kaitlin Smith in the long jump. Smith is seeded second behind Kamehameha’s Meagan Kualii by more than a foot.
>> Kayson Smith-Bejgrowicz of Kamehameha, who is not only the top seed in the triple jump but the only returning state placer.
>> Kainoa Tom of Baldwin in the boys pole vault, whose best effort this season is three inches past Bubba Maclean‘s record of 15-03 for St. Anthony in 1997.
>> Lahainaluna’s Emerson Liburd in the 110 meter hurdles, but Kapolei senior Tristan Centeio has matched him this year with a 14.55 time.
>> Kaeo Kruse of Kamehameha is more than 10 seconds faster than any other boy in the state in the 3,000 meters and is expected to add his second straight gold.
For a little blast from the past, here is every gold medalist in the history of the state track and field championships along with record holders: