HHSAA air riflery: Hilo High’s Gianna Yokoe is ohana’s latest shooting star

  • PARISH KALEIWAHEA photos/Tribune-Herald Guy Yokoe, the 2015 state air riflery champion for Waiakea, and 2019 champion Gianna Yokoe, with parents Garrick and Yvonne Yokoe.
  • PARISH KALEIWAHEA photos/Tribune-Herald Hilo’s Gianna Yokoe used a carefree attitude as a steadying force Tuesday to win gold at the state air riflery championships in Honolulu.

Hilo High’s Gianna Yokoe entered carefree, and she exited carefully attending to her hardware.

She just might start listening to her big brother more often.

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Yokoe surprised herself Tuesday when she claimed the HHSAA girls air riflery championship on Tuesday in Honolulu, but looking back, it all makes sense.

She’s the first member of the Vikings ohana to win a state shooting title, but she’s the second in her family, joining Guy Yokoe, who claimed a crown for Waiakea in 2015.

“It meant a lot for me to win states and take that with my brother,” Yokoe said. “I definitely had some rough moments this season, so to walk away as champ still has me in shock.

“My brother and I are pretty different personality-wise, but we both have the same drive. I think that’s why we both did well at states.”

HHSAA success not only runs in the family, but it continues to be a BIIF pattern as well. In the boys competition, Christian Liberty’s Adam Sako claimed bronze.

Yokoe is the first Big Island female to win states since Waiakea’s Kellie Iwasaki in 2011, but three boys have won in the past seven tournaments. Kamehameha’s Devez Aniol was first last season, and two years for before Guy Yokoe struck gold, Justin Gray did the same for Waiakea in 2013.

Unlike some of those conquests, the seeds didn’t even come close to holding this time.

Gianna Yokoe was the sixth-best shooter during the BIIF regular season and she was consistent at BIIFs, finishing sixth.

“During my BIIF season I cared too much about the outcome of each match,” she said. “At states I was simply happy to be there. I remember a few years ago when my brother won states he told me ‘you have to care, but not care’ at the same time. I guess that mindset really does work.”

Wonders, in fact.

Hilo coach Rayner Galdones said he wasn’t surprised by Yokoe’s title, especially after she stood first after initial position, prone.

“I knew she had it in her,” Galdones said. “After prone, we knew she was going to shoot a good score, it was just a matter of how good it was.”

Yokoe qualified for the eight-shooter finals in third but only two points behind first, then she surpassed Sacred Hearts’ Morgan Harrison and Kalani’s Sara Toma. Her 631.9 total bested Toma’s 630.5.

“I didn’t even think I’d make it to the final round,” Yokoe said. “The only pressure I really had was the pressure I put on myself. Although I think there was some outside pressure, I feed off of it, so it worked in my favor.”

Kamehameha had the largest contingent of BIIF shooters with seven, and two made the finals. Kanani Araki (621.1) was fourth and Nahulu Carvalho (618.5) sixth. Kylie Iwamoto (527), the BIIF champion, was 13th, holding off Keaau’s Dakota Muranaka (527), who was 14th with the same score because of fewer bulls-eye. McKenna Hewitt was a point behind in 15th for Kamehameha.

Kamehameha finished third in the team race behind Sacred Hearts and Pearl City.

Sako (636.7) was the only BIIF boy to reach the finals, and he made a charge to third, finishing 3.1 points behind the winner, Mid-Pacific’s Michael Tam.

BIIF champion Laiku Paleka (535) of Kamehameha was 13th, and Ryan Kim was 16th for Waiakea, which placed fifth.

Moanalua reclaimed the team title with its third triumph in four seasons.

Hilo’s Travis Puleo (531) was 17th, and spots 22-24 were occupied, respectively, by Waiakea’s Tyler Jeschke (526), Kamehameha’s Colby Terlep (525) and Waiakea’s Jonah Matsuura (525).

Also posting top-25 finishes for the BIIF on the girls side were Kamehameha’s Elena-Marie Waianuhea (21st, 522) and Kamehameha’s Briani Iyo (23rd, 521).

Gianna Yokoe will try to repeat next season to close the family legacy. She’s the youngest sibling.

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“I really want to thank my coaches, teammates, family and friends for supporting me throughout the season,” she said.

Everyone and their mother usually thanks their family, but for Yokoe it meant something a little different.

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