By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
MILILANI, Oahu — It was the last chance for Hawaii Prep senior Zoe Sims to race in her signature event, the girls 1,500 meters, at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state track and field championships on an overcast and windy Saturday, the setting for a brilliant record run.
The 1,500 meters is one of 32 events, but it is different and quite meaningful, at least, for Sims and Seabury Hall junior Dakota Grossman, because of their shared history, a tale of who will be fastest on the next brightest day.
Sims was not only the fastest, finishing in 4 minutes, 36.22 seconds, but her time set a state meet record, at the Mililani High track. Grossman tailgated her to the end, placing in at 4:37.22, which also broke Victoria Chang’s old state meet mark of 4:38.83, set in 1999.
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation did itself proud in that event. Hilo junior Carmen Garson-Shumway was third in 4:42.19 and will have a target to shoot for next season when both she and Grossman will compete in their last runs.
“For me, it’s about chasing my personal best,” Sims said. “The record and competition help push me. When I have pain or doubt, those goals help. The medal and record are nice, but I feel really good that I pushed myself the hardest. I’m grateful for Victoria Ching for setting a record for me to try and beat.”
The 800 went even better for the BIIF. Sims earned her second gold and Garson-Shumway took silver.
Grossman entered as the 1,500 as defending state champion, beating Sims by a whisker last year, 4:43.53 to 4:43.78. In 2011, the tables were turned when Sims defeated Grossman, then a promising freshman, by less than a second.
Then there’s underdog Garson-Shumway, who was third last year and fifth as a freshman, throwing her best times to make it a three-horse race.
“It’s exactly where I finished last season,” she said. “I’m happy that I ran with a good group of girls. That makes it fun and makes me a better runner. My only goal was to set a personal record.”
Garson-Shumway’s best was a 4:46 last year at states. She lowered her PR by four seconds. She walked off with bronze, but had the big smile of a first-place winner.
On Oct. 28, 2010, Grossman stamped herself as a distance runner to watch. She not only won the 3-mile state cross country title as a freshman, but absolutely dominated, smoking Punahou runner-up Elli Brady by more than 10 seconds, equivalent to a 10-0 TKO baseball score.
She won the state championship the next season by a wider margin, finishing in 19:27 to Brady’s 19:47. Sims placed seventh both times.
Then the cross country venue rotated to HPA’s campus, an advantage for Sims that made no difference at all to Grossman, who defeated Brady for a third time in her motivated senior year by nearly nine seconds.
Sims was fifth, clocking in at 21:00, almost a minute behind Grossman, who has a chance to go down as one of the greatest cross country runners in state history due to her wide margins of victory.
“I think it’s the build. Dakota is lean and tall, the perfect build for a long-distance runner. But anything can happen on any given day. It’s part luck and part skill. That’s what makes sports great. Competition is about pushing each other.”
But track is a different animal; there are no hills.
The 1,500 is based on cardio and extended sprint speed, two requirements that fit both Sims and Garson-Shumway. They were second and third, respectively, at the 800 last year. As a sophomore Sims was second in the 400, a race where raw speed comes into play.
Grossman doesn’t compete in the 800, an event for racehorses. She won the 3,000, designed to test one’s endurance and lung capacity, as a freshman and sophomore — a much better fit with her programmed cross country background.
And among the BIIF competitors, it’s always a friendly competition, no matter where a meet is held.
“We warm up and cool down together at BIIF meets,” Garson-Shumway said of Sims and other league runners. “I like the challenge to push myself and compete with them. They’ve become really good friends and I’m proud of them. They’re like my extended teammates.”
Konawaena senior Ua Ruedy’s chase of a gold in the 300 hurdles ended before the finals when she was disqualified in the trials. She was ranked No. 1 and was the state runner-up last season.
HPA freshman Emma Taylor took gold in the 100 hurdles in 15.23 seconds, a big slice of redemption after her fall at the BIIF championships and a crawl for fourth.
“The lesson I learned is to finish the last hurdle before focusing at the end,” she said. “It felt really good and I was behind for most of the race. I had to push at the end.”
She stands a lot shorter than the rest of the eight-member field. She’s about 5 feet, 5 inches, making her leap and stride between the hurdles a little tougher. Her BIIF counterpart, Kamehameha junior Casey Poe is 5-9, has the long legs built for the event, but took fifth.
“I think it was my speed between the hurdles,” Taylor said. “I don’t have the best technique like some of the other girls who have been doing it for a couple of years. But my objective was my speed between the hurdles.’”
After she cleared the last hurdle, that speed came in handy. Taylor crossed the finished line in first place. Then she walked off with gold.
In the 300 hurdles, Taylor won silver.
Hilo senior Josh Kirkpatrick whipped the discus a personal best 158 feet, 1 inch on Friday during the preliminaries. His throw was good for second after Kauai High’s McKenna Lopez-Estabillio reached 163-01 on his third and final throw in the finals. (First-day field event results carry into the finals.)
“My last throw I knew my release was bad,” said Kirkpatrick, who had a foul on his final throw. “I thought my PR was all right. I was throwing farther in practice, in the 160s.”
It’s Kirkpatrick’s first state medal. Last year, he threw the discus in the 120s, an exact number he didn’t care to remember. After taking second at the BIIF championships in both the discus and shot put (the latter an event he didn’t qualify for at states), Kirkpatrick saw the value in his state silver medal.
“I was expecting to throw good,” said Kirkpatrick, who also paddled for the Vikings. “The key was not being intimidated. It feels good. It’s better than nothing.”
Kealakehe senior Avery Hardie-Jordan sprinted to second in the 100-meter dash, clocking in at 11.17 seconds behind Baldwin senior Keelan Ewaliko’s 11.05. The gold medalist and speedy Bear is headed to the University of Hawaii on a football scholarship.
“It’s an honor to run with these guys, the top athletes in the state,” Hardie-Jordan said. “I’m stoked about the silver. I usually start slow, and I wanted to keep up with the guys off the block and be right there.”
Ewaliko also won the 200 (22.16), with Hardie-Jordan third.
Ka‘u senior Marley Strand-Nicolaisen never grabbed a medal of significant color before at states. She had to work hard to win silver in the long and high jumps, running between the two events — held at the same time — four times, the length of a football field.
In the long jump, she soared to 16 feet, 10 inches. For the high jump, Strand-Nicolaisen cleared 5 feet to tie for second.
For good measure, Strand-Nicolaisen also won silver in the triple jump, reaching 35-1.75 to hold off Hilo’s Mehana Sabado-Halpern.
“It’s a great accomplishment and I’ve never placed for my years in high school,” she said. “It’s a great way to go out.”
Christian Liberty junior Kekoa Mundo struck silver in the 400, finishing behind King Kekaulike’s Jake Jacobs.
In the girls l,600 relay, Hilo claimed silver while HPA won bronze.
A handful of BIIF officials made the trip over, including Myron Isherwood, the overall field referee. He started officiating in 1962 and has been officiating at the state championships every year since 1988.
Other officials were starter George Ikeda, Bob Martin, Jaime Guerpo, Joel Peralto, Adams Agtarap, Jordan Rosado and Winona Hai-Kelly.
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