MIL shows depth on range, box | News, Sports, Jobs
WAILUKU — As the Maui Interscholastic League track and field season approaches its halfway point, Keegan Gantala stepped up to a 9-inch improvement in the pole vault to move him up the state rankings.
Sophomore Kamehameha Schools Maui jumped 12 feet, 9 inches at the Yamamoto Track & Field Facility on Friday night, putting him closer to Mililani’s senior Stephen Chezik, who posted a height of 13 feet last week.
“It felt good. It’s always the goal to get better at every meeting and we just have to keep evolving and doing our best every week.” Said Gantala. “I’m just focused on perfecting my technique and trying to get better overall and I feel like my teammates and coaches are really pushing me to get better.”
St. Anthony senior Trevor Tanaka, who jumped 12-3 on the windy Friday, is No. 3 nationally with a grade of 12-7, according to Athletic.net, which is most — if not all — times and grades this season has from Hawaii‘s prep leagues.
“We pay attention to a lot of these people and that’s why we strive for the top every weekend,” Gantala told the state rankings.
Pole vaulting is just one of many track and field events where MIL student athletes are currently among the best in the state.
Baldwin’s Joseph Randolph, who ran a 10.78-second 100 at Friday’s MIL Meeting No. 4, continues to lead the state in the Boys 100 and 200 with previous personal record times of 10.77 and 21.98, respectively.
The second best boys are from the Oahu Interscholastic Association — Kanoa Mahiko from Kaiser (10.91 out of 100) and Emanuel Carter from Waianae (23.01 out of 200).
Baldwin also has a handful of athletes in the top five who could earn the team crucial points at next month’s state meeting, including senior Justin Kahalewai, who is third in the state in the 110-meter hurdles with 15.91.
Baldwin’s 400 relay also has the fifth fastest time (44.55) as they continue to practice baton handovers in each practice session to make necessary improvements.
Still, many coaches said rankings could “change drastically” Over the next few weeks, athletes across the state will get in better shape and improve their skills.
“I think we’re at a point where we’re definitely optimistic; We’re always approaching the end of the season where we want to train smarter, not necessarily harder because that’s where injuries come in, so we have to look for ways to sharpen them without having to shed them. ” said Bears coach Derek Dahilig. “The next five weeks will be crucial for us.”
In Friday’s field events, Baldwin’s Ezra Laga threw a 159-4 discus to improve his No. 1 state ranking.
Laga is also third in the shot put at 46-5.
“Ezra had an excellent year” said Dahilig. “So we lean on these guys.”
Randolph and Baldwin’s teammate Antone Sanches were also neck and neck in the triple jump, posting marks over 41 feet that put them 1st and 2nd in the state.
The Baldwin boys won back-to-back state team titles in 2012 and 2013. Before that, no MIL boys’ team had won a state trophy since Maui High in 1995.
“It’s always on our minds, but we want to take care of other things first, like MIL champions, and then focus on who we are.” said Dahilig.
Sabers senior Ethan Takara’s personal best of 6-3 in the high jump holds steady at the top of the state rankings. The next highest mark is 6 feet from Jordan McQueen from Kapolei and Balen Rigg from Punahou.
“I’m just focused on doing a lot more as states roll around to make sure I put a cushion between me and the runners-up.” said Takara, who attempted a 6-4 on Friday night but just missed the mark to finish 6-2. “But at the moment I feel good. I think I’ve improved a lot over the season, although maybe my height doesn’t show it – my form is getting a lot better to set me up better for those future heights.”
Seabury senior Kaylee Volner is in contention for two gold medals at the state meeting – she’s No. 1 in both the girls 1,500 and 3,000 with times of 4:55.73 and 10:29, respectively.
Volner, the state runner-up in cross country, knows the runners from Mililani and Punahou will still have stiff competition.
“It’s definitely been a very exciting season, I’m just so grateful to be out here,” said Volner. “It’s always a new learning experience and I just look forward to the conditions and to keep pushing my times to get better. … It’s just a good and competitive atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, King Kekaulike freshman Ja’lyn Deichert, who did not compete Friday, still leads the state in the Girls 100 with a 12.61 she scored at last week’s MIL No. 3 meeting. Her mark is just ahead of Konawaena’s Caiya Hanks, who ran a 12.65 during the Yamamoto Invitational on Maui.
Hanks leads in the 200 with 26.31, but Deichert is close behind with 26.39 and Na Alii teammate Tori Zackious has the third fastest time.
In field events, King Kekaulike senior Heather Pease is No. 2 in Hawaii with a 113-2 discus throw.
“We have a team full of phenomenal athletes,” said Na Ali coach Jesse Henderson. “We don’t put any pressure on them to do anything special, it’s just do their best and go and have fun.”
* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected]