Franko, Vulcans start off strong at PacWest finals

  • UHH photo Dustin Franko shot a 1-under 69 on Monday and was tied for the lead at the Pacific West Conference championship. UHH and Holy Names share the team lead, with Hawaii Pacific only a shot behind. The tournament runs through Wednesday.

UH-Hilo men’s golfer Dustin Franko told the Tribune-Herald earlier this season that he and his teammates would “bring the heat” when it mattered most, and he personally backed up the talk Monday.

Franko shot a 1-under 69 at the Waikoloa Beach Course to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the Pacific West Conference championship, which featured a tie at the top between the Vulcans and Holy Names.

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After reeling off five consecutive pars, Franko birdied his final whole, the par-5 11th. Hawaii Pacific’s Keita Okada and Ray Kim also shot 69s, and UHH’s Andrew Otani was among four golfers one shot off the lead.

“The boys did well,” Vuls coach Earl Tamiya said in a release. “It’s a good start.”

Franko had four birdies and three bogies in his round, while Otani had five birdies.

Noah Lau turned in a 73 on it, Junghwan Willis Lee was at 74 and Nicholas Gomez shot a 75.

At 6-over 286, the Vuls and Hawks will begin the second of three rounds a stroke ahead of HPU. Academy of Art was at 13-over.

In the girls competition, Kaelyn Uchida carded a 5-over 75 and was tied for seventh, while fellow Waiakea alum Tia Kualii was another shot back. Tori Hironaga (80) and Kasumi Goto (89) rounded out the scoring for UHH (40-over 320), which was 23 shots behind the leader, Dominican.

“I am pleased, we shot well today,” Vuls coach Jim DeMello said in a school release. “That is a good first day for us.”

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Aubrey Corpuz of Holy Names was the first-round leader at 69. Two shots back was Domincan’s Lauren Parayno of and defending champion Dominican Anahi Servin of Academy of Art was among two golfers 2-over.

Point Loma (307), Biola (313), Holy Names (316) and Academy of Art rounded out the top five.

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