What happens when a journalism teacher who coaches track and field takes on the task of a short preseason due to a global pandemic?
Coach Brook Nasser shared her perspective about her Kalani Falcons as they enter the final weekend of their brief season. With no Oahu Interscholastic Association championships and no state championship meet, Saturday’s event at Kaiser Stadium will be the finale.
“Despite a short season and coming off a year of limited to no activity, Kalani athletes have had tons of PR performances over the past four weeks. This coming meet at Kaiser is our last of the season, and we’re all looking forward to it. Even though there are no championships this year, the kids train hard and give 110 percent week after week. Track isn’t a sport where you can take it easy or sandbag because every Saturday, you have to line up against seven other athletes,” she said.
Freshman Cadence Kasprick won the OIA middle school cross country meet in 2019.
“Cadence didn’t train much over the past year, so she came into the season having to rebuild her foundation. However, she’s such a strong, natural athlete that she makes giant leaps every time she runs. She has PR’d at every single meet. She is on our 4×100 and 4×400 team, and runs the 800, 1,500 and 3,000. She does it all,” Nasser said.
Sophomore Jessica Phung transferred to Kalani from the mainland and often ran at the school track with her father.
“Jessica did train over the past year, and it shows in her performances. But what is exciting about Jessica is her mental toughness — she’s a true competitor, and she isn’t afraid to push herself. Last week we gave her the option to not run the 3,000 so she would be fresh for the 4×400, but she ran it anyway,” Nasser said. “Many young athletes do not yet have the emotional muscle to go hard and be uncomfortable, but she is not afraid to stretch her boundaries. She has also PR’ed every single week.”
Senior Kady Okamura is a reliable leader.
“Kady has stepped up this year as a captain and role model. She leads team warm-ups and reaches out to the new athletes to make sure they learn the drills and techniques. She hasn’t PR’ed this year, but she has stepped into leadership roles on our relay teams. She’s just so tough, and I know if I put her anchor on the 4×400, she’ll do whatever it takes to reach the finish line first,” Nasser said.
The coaching staff has high hopes for freshman Taina Tanuvasa, a junior.
“Taina, unfortunately, has been injured for most of the season, so her first meet was last week. I’m happy she’ll have another chance to throw on Saturday,” Nasser said.
Tanuvasa qualified for states in the shot put and discus as a freshman with a PR of 114-8 on Maui.
The sprint crew is led by Ryan Kaneko.
“Ryan is our top female sprinter this year. She has tied her PR in the 100 meters — a time that would qualify her for OIA Championships in a typical year,” Nasser said. “I’m expecting a big PR on Saturday at Kaiser. She also tried the long jump this year and is learning it quickly. One of the best things about Ryan is she’s up for anything. She never complains, and she always says yes.”