Even when you’re as good at collecting gold as Chenoa Frederick is, some moments shine brighter than others.
At the 2018 state track and field championships, Kamehameha teammate Saydee Aganus’ title defense in the 100-meter hurdles came just before Frederick’s race in the 100 dash, an event she won silver in the year before. Aganus hit a hurdle late in her race, settling for silver, and had tears in her eyes her eyes when she approached Frederick.
“I love Saydee, and I was very proud of her regardless,” Frederick said. “She was crying and wanted me to win this race, if not for me and my family, than win it for her.
“My heart was pounding, because I needed to win this for Saydee. When I finally did, that was my favorite moment of my high school track and field career.”
She had many to choose from – even if her near-historic run was prematurely cut short.
Warriors coach Manly Kanoa is left yearning for the next “wow moment.”
Frederick won the maximum six gold medals at the 2018 BIIF championships, then followed up with three more at the state meet. As a junior, Frederick claimed four state golds, including one in the high jump, an event she had just started to pick up.
“There were a bunch of wow moments that we were ready for,” Kanoa said. “I think what I’ll miss the most is the wow moments that we weren’t ready for. It was fantastic to be wowed by one athlete year after year. I was waiting for this year’s wow.”
It might sound cliche, but it’s true: It took a pandemic to finally slow Frederick down.
The state high school track and field season was the only one of eight spring sports never to get off the ground because of COVID-19. That cost Frederick a chance to soar into the Hawaii history record books. She finished with eight career golds, one off the career mark held Heidi Freise, Prestine Foster and Zhane Santiago.
“I was really ready for track season,” Frederick said, “my goal was to go 6 for 6 at state. I wanted to establish myself as the most decorated track and field athlete to come out of this state. I was ready for that and my body was kind of ready. I wouldn’t say I was 100%. I would say I was at a solid 90%.”
She never lost the triple jump in three state championships and holds the meet record, and along with 100 she’s also the two-time champ in the long jump. Last season on Maui, she became the first female to claim all three jumps and the 100.
In other words, the odds of her reaching not just nine career golds but 10 or more were decent.
But who’s counting?
Not Frederick. Not anymore.
“When everything happened, it didn’t register,” said Frederick, who was just coming off the soccer season when spring sports were canceled. “Everything happened so fast, I didn’t realize the severity of losing my senior season. After a few weeks, it hit harder.
“I really thought about it though and I talked to my parents (David and Liliha Frederick), and they helped me get through it. This is an opportunity to let my body get 100% and get ready for my next step. I really look at it as a blessing in disguise.”
Those next steps will come at the University of Hawaii after she signed with the Rainbow Wahine earlier this month.
At one point during her sophomore season, Frederick was the second-ranked triple jumper in the nation, so she’s been fielding offers from college recruiters for more than two years. She said she had a slew of enticing scholarship offers to attend college on the mainland, but the pandemic caused her to shift her focus closer to home so the transition would be easier.
Frederick said she lost some scholarship money by opting for UH, but it helped that she was elected to the HHSAA Hall of Honor on Monday, an award that comes with a college stipend.
“I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but I was very grateful,” she said. “That $2,000 really helped me.”
Frederick owes her speed and agility, she said, not just to her parents but to her soccer roots. She picked up the game as a 4-year-old, and “by the time I was 10 or 11 I was playing with the boys. That really helped.”
Now that her high school career is pau, a secret can be revealed. Frederick can be beaten, though it may take a four-legged animal.
Besides watching her diet, these days she’s stays in shape, in part, but running with her two dogs.
“Sometimes I have to drag them, and sometimes they drag me,” she said. “It just depends on the day.”
Waiakea’s boys had a bevy of bodies to replace after last season’s 30-point victory over Kealakehe in the BIIF championships, but coach Tim Carigon said he was encouraged by preseason practice.
“We were pretty excited with who came out and trying to fill some of those holes,” Carigon said. “Throwers always give us points and we would have been strong in the distances.”
Among others, he looked for big seasons from Ethan Correa (discus, shot put), pole vaulter Deylin Okinawa and runners Kederang Ueda and Elijah Carigon. The younger Carigon had a chance win a third BIIF title as a senior after previously helping the Warriors’ cross-country and soccer teams to championships.
“I think it would have been a banner year,” Tim Carigon said. “Chenoa’s last year, HPA’s boys would have been strong, and I think the team race would have been a four-way race, not just us and Kealakehe like last year.”
One of Waiakea’s best state threats on the girls side was hurdler Malu Kekuawela, a recent grad, and the 4×400 team of Sydirah Aricayos, Aiyanna Fourshey, Taysia Rocha and Jadyn Clark would have been fun to watch, Carigon said. The Warriors finished sixth in the state last season.
One of the sentimental favorites in 2020 would have been recent Kealakehe grad Leann Hamilton, who finished second in the state in the 800 as a junior.
With Frederick gone, things should open next season for at least a pair of senior sprinters: Hawaii Prep’s Bella Police and Konawaena’s Caiya Hanks. In 2019, Police scored a rare win over Frederick, beating her in the 200 for BIIF gold.