HHSAA swimming championships: Waiakea record-breakers seek fun, fast times at states

  • RICK WINTERS/West Hawaii Today
    Waiakea's Korrie Tengan is the BIIF record-holder in the 200-yard individual medley and she'll also enter the backstroke at the state championships
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald
    Waiakea senior Mina Poppas is one of two BIIF swimmers who enters as a top seed at the HHSAA championships.

There were no restless nights of anticipation and no last-second pushes, just a nice surprise.

Waiakea senior Mina Poppas said breaking her own BIIF record in the 200-yard freestyle just kind of happened.

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It’s the 500 free where she still feels she has some unfinished business.

“I feel like everything has to line up for it to happen,” Poppas said. “Hopefully, I’m excited for states, to lower that time.”

She and Hawaii Prep senior Maile Lawson are the BIIF’s two top seeds at the HHSAA swimming championships, to be held Friday and Saturday at Central Oahu Regional Park.

Lawson ended a gold drought for Big Islanders at states last season and returns looking for a repeat in the her signature event, the breaststroke. Poppas is the only swimmer in Hawaii this season to finish in under 1 minute and 53 seconds in the 200 free, reaching 1:52.42 to lower her league mark at the BIIF championships Jan. 26 in Kailua-Kona.

Poppas set a league finals record in 500, but it wasn’t enough to break an 11-year-old overall league mark held by Kealakehe’s Krista Maier (5:03.28).

“I swam a 5:01 a couple of months before, so I knew I had it in me,” said Poppas, the second seed in the 500 behind Kamehameha-Kapalama’s Shaye Story, whose top effort this is season is 5:02.56.

“I feel like I’ll do better than last year,” said Poppas, who won a bronze in the 500 in 2018. “I really feel this is my last year, no pressure, just have fun. It’s nice to see all the people I’ve been competing with forever one last time.”

She has signed to swim at Division I Vermont has been able to avoid the burnout that sometimes slows other high school swimmers, crediting teammates such as Korrie Tengan for helping to keep the sport fresh.

Tengan, a sophomore, was busy setting league marks in Kona as well, outdueling Lawson, one of the most decorated BIIF swimmers of all-time, in the 200 individual medley (2:05.97).

“It’s definitely competition, but it’s definitely healthy because I’ve swum against her pretty often,” Tengan said, “and I don’t think I could have done it without her.”

She’s seeded second in 200 IM — University freshman Grace Monahan (2:02.02) is first and Lawson is third — and is fourth in the backstroke. After winning that event at BIIFs in 58.50, she has two more years to chase the league record held by 2018 HPA grad Kira Parker (57.43).

“I think the goal at states is just to have fun, and enjoy the experience since I’m only a sophomore,” said Tengan, who has been swimming with Warrior Aquatic Club since age 6. “I’m just looking forward to swimming with all the older swimmers and the challenge.”

On the boys side, the headliner is Kealakehe double BIIF record-holder Weylin Foo, who is seeded second in the butterfly and third in 200 IM. Both of his times are an eyelash from the top effortsin the state this season.

Fresh off setting a BIIF finals mark, Hawaii Prep’s Brock Imonen is third in the 500 free, and the other No. 3 seeds from the BIIF are Kealakehe’s Ku’uleionalani Patterson in the 50 free, and divers Sydney Patterson of Hilo and Jon Kuyper of HPA.

After states, Tengan will take one day off before starting water polo practice on Monday.

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Poppas will head back to the pool and prepare for graduation and her college career at Vermont, where she’ll be reunited with Parker, who hosted Poppas on her visit.

“Seeing the campus, meeting the team, I really felt like that’s what I want to do, that’s where I want to be,” Poppas said.

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