BIIF paddling: Cougars in control at season-opening regatta

  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Keaau's boys crew (Chaz Olson, Etmi Jally, Xavian Alisa-Sells, La’akea Nakoa, Taylor Andrews, Sypris DeMello) won its race in 3:41.86.
  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Keaau's girls crew (Jonay Enriques, Kyle Fabiani, Lexie Prudholm, Liana Prudholm, Adelaide Stebbins, Cother-Mckeague La’a) won in 4:35.99.
  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Keaau's mixed crew (Chaz Olson, Kyla Fabiani, Brandon Kuhns-Lono, La’akea Nakoa, Liana Prudholm, Kyla Vallente) won in 3:51.88.

Be it one-man, two-man, six-man long distance or six-man regatta, rarely does a handful of days go by when Keaau senior Liana Prudholm isn’t putting a paddle in the ocean.

“It’s calming,” Prudholm said. “It’s nice to be in the water and away from everything.”

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And with choke work comes choke results.

The placid conditions were near perfect Saturday morning at Hilo Bay, especially so for the Cougars, who swept all three races at a season-opening BIIF regatta.

“A lot of the kids have committed to doing long distance and one-man since the summer time,” Keaau coach Grant Kaaua said. “The kids looked great. They are ready to go.”

The results made Keaau eager to find out how the West Hawaii crews fared Saturday at Kailua Bay. The Cougars had a six-year streak of winning at least one BIIF gold medal snapped last season, and the first all-schools regatta is on tap next Saturday in Kailua-Kona.

Keaau used a different steersman in each race, proving in part that the system works.

“We asked some people to step up and do something that’s not their thing, first nature,” Kaaua said. “I tell them they are on a train, they just need to jump on the train and go for the the ride.”

Under that analogy, Prudholm and Chaz Olson were two of the conductors.

“(Chaz) put in work,” Kaaua said.

Kyla Fabiani, La’akea Nakoa, Prudholm and Olson pulled double duty, with Olson handling stroker duties in the boys and mixed races.

“The girls (race) was comfortable, the mixed I feel like we could have done a lot better,” Prudholm said. “I feel like we can grow a lot in both of them.

“I was just relaxed. I’m not really nervous since I’ve gone through it so many times.”

In the girls race, Keaau – Jonay Enriques, Fabiani, Lexie Prudholm, Liana Prudholm, Adelaide Stebbins, Cother-Mckeague La’a – finished in 4 minutes, 17.91 seconds. Pahoa (4:35.99) was second, with Kamehameha (4:42.00) third and Hilo (4:42.69) fourth. The Cougars’ boys (3:41.86) – Olson, Etmi Jally, Xavian Alisa-Sells, Nakoa, Taylor Andrews, Sypris DeMello – finished ahead of Hilo (3:53.16), Kamehameha (3:55.31) and Waiakea (3:55.76). Keaau’s mixed crew – Olson, Fabiani, Brandon Kuhns-Lono, Nakoa, Liana Prudholm, Kyla Vallente –won in 3:51.88, followed by Kamehameha (3:58.22), Pahoa (4:04.73), Waiakea (4:06.41) and Hilo (4:16.36).

And with that, the Cougars will hit the film room to fine-tune ahead of the next regatta. Kaaua will show the highlights – and lowlights– on the big screen at school for everyone to digest.

“By the time we get back to the water, we’ve gotten better already,” Kaaua said “We look at form, angles, steering and ‘What was that!’ We make it fun. We’ve had some great bloopers in the past. Guys falling out of the canoe. We make it light.”

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No matter the mood, Prudholm likely can be found on the water.

“It’s just fun when we all work together,” she said.

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