KEAAU – At a BIIF track and field meet earlier this season, Waiakea coach Tim Carigon was adamant: Not only was Kealakehe the boys favorite, he said, but the Warriors were not even trying to chase a title.
Some five weeks later at Saturday night’s championships, Waiakea senior Magnus Namohala-Roloos was equally as adamant: This was not his show. He was but an ensemble character, he felt, albeit with a very big role and three gold medals.
“Everyone contributed, even at practice,” Namohala-Roloos said. “We gutted it out to win a championship.”
Obviously, somewhere between then and now, the Warriors not only learned how to catch up, but surpass the competition, and their penchant for both was on display at Paiea Stadium.
Waiakea’s first boys crown since 2016 was highlighted by Cheyn Tam-Switzer’s comeback win in the 200-meter dash, which was perhaps the race of the day. Tam-Switzer sped from third to first in the final foray to beat a talented field in a personal-record of 22.72 seconds.
“That was just adrenaline,” Tam-Switzer said. “I brought all the adrenaline up and somehow pulled it out. Once I caught up to them, I had confidence I was going to do it.”
“Words can’t explain how I feel right now. It feels amazing all of our boys pulled together.”
The Warriors dethroned Kealakehe and kept the Waveriders from the team sweep they coveted, but there was no stopping Kealakehe’s girls, who captured their firts BIIF championship behind middle distance runner Leann Hamilton, who won two gold medals and two bronzes. The junior was the second-most prolific girls point-scorer at the meet behind Kamehameha’s Chenoa Frederick.
Hamilton’s coaches have a nickname for her: LeAnimal, because she eats them up.
“When someone is hurt, we help everybody stay healthy,” she said of the team element of the sport, “because if someone misses their event, that’s 10 point we could lose.”
Namohala-Roloos, who won the 800 and 1,500 and ran a leg of the 4×400 relay victory that punctuated the festivities, was named boys athlete of the meet.
“I’m just in shock that I actually performed like this today,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it, not these results.”
The 800 has been his all season and he PR’d in 2:01.75, and he did the same in finishing strong in the 1,500 (4:21.36).
When Namohala-Roloos finds that last gear, he has a way of making some of his competitors look like they’re running in quicksand.
“I actually surprised myself,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that last kick, but I figured it was my senior season, I might as well give it all I’ve got. I might as well go out with a bang.”
Carigon marvelled that none of the four runners in the final relay specialize in the 400. Tam-Switzer is a sprinter, Namohala-Roloos does middle distance and Eric Cabais-Fernandez and Elijah Carigon run distances.
Cabais-Fernandez took home the only BIIF record of the day, repeating as pole vault champion with an effort of 14 feet, 6 inches. Teammate Deylan Okinaka (13-6) earned silver.
“Eric gets a BIIF record, and he came in unhealthy for the 4×4 and ran a 52 split, we can’t ask for more from this guy,” said Tam-Switzer, who was third in the 100.
Kederang Ueda won silver for Waiakea in the 3,000, and was second in the 400, finishing behind Kealakehe’s Kainoa Raymond. With a PR of 51.31, Raymond gave the Waveriders their only boys gold of the day. Waiakea’s 124 points were 30 ahead of Kealakehe, with Kamehameha in third at 67.
Kealakehe coach Duke Hartfield entered feeling better about his girls team’s chances, and watching Hamilton cruise around the track only reaffirmed the notion.
Hamilton repeated in two events, the 800, which is her signature race, and the 1,500, where she bided her time after Hilo freshman Xoch Gervais started fast. Hamilton finishing strong in 5:00.82, her best time all season. Hamilton was third in the 3,000.
“I was so happy to have competition,” Hamilton said of Gervais, “but I was super nervous for the 1,500, because all the year she’s run when I didn’t run and I’d run when she didn’t run. Today was the our first race where we ran together. I would have never run 5-flat if I didn’t have competition.”
She’s rarely nervous in the 800. Her best time this season ranks fourth in the state, and she’s confident heading to the HHSAA championships on Maui, where she’ll skip the 1,500.
“The goal is to get gold,” she said. “I think I can do it because all my competition is running the 1,500, and I should be fresh.”
Hartfield could herald this as a true team victory after Kealakehe (102) finished 14 points head of Waiakea, with Hawaii Prep (77) in third.
Anastasia Tuifua won gold Friday in the shot put, and Kealakehe got 11 points in the discus, including Myra Liufau’s bronze. Staci Lovell won bronze in the pole vault, as did Saidah Muhammad in the 200, while Crystal DeLos Santos claimed silver in the 300 hurdles.
DeLos Santos and Muhammad also were part of medal-winning relay squads, silver in the 4×1 and bronze in the 4×4, a team that also included Hamilton.
“Saidah Muhammad ran the 200 with a really sore leg,” Hartfield said, “and she sucked it up and got third place. You need that to win.
“Just a really good effort in field, running and throwing, that’s what it is.”
Many competitors stay away from the 300 hurdles, but not Konawaena junior Tyler Johnson, who swept both hurdling events with PRs (16.18 in the 110, and 41.42 in the 300).
He’s been the man to beat in the 300 all season, but his 110 victory was more of a surprise.
Afterward, he spoke like a veteran coach.
“The way I see it, the (300) is really only a miserable race if you think of it as a miserable race,” he said. “Really it’s kind of a fun race, a lot of mechanics, a lot of thinking, a lot of trust in yourself.
“If you can’t trust yourself, you can’t trust the race. You’ll stutter, you’ll lose you steps, then you’ll confidence. It can do downhill like a stack of dominoes.”
It never did for Johnson nor Konawaena girls hurdlers Kiyomi Watanabe and Jayda Flenory, who won the 100 and 300, respectively. Flenory looked to be in trouble late, but she passed DeLos Santos in a PR of 48.37.
Jadyn Hanks also PR’d to win gold for the Wildcats, taking the 400 in 1:01.83, and Hanks, Watanabe, Melina Ramirez and Caiya Hanks teamed to win gold in the 4×100. Their 50.73 ranks third in Hawaii.
Hilo didn’t have enough depth to contend for a team title, but a Viking reached the top of the podium five times.
Riley Patterson ran sub-11 100 dashes on consecutive days, including a 10.93 PR in the final that cracks the top five in Hawaii and is one of the fastest all-time in the BIIF. Patterson won silver in the 200 for the second year in a row.
After fading to a bronze finish in the 1,500, Gervais looked formidable in winning the 3,000, and a pair of first-year competitors struck gold with PRs, Guyson Ogata in the long jump and Glory Medeiros in discus.
In the boys 3,000, Steven Chung appeared fresh when he crossed first, pumping his fist at at the finish line.
• Cody Ah Nee won Keaau’s lone gold, capturing the shot put, and HPA’s Justin Lina, Michael Hughes, Ted Kim and Dean Connors raced to victory in the 4×100 with a 43.68, the best time in the league this season.