Waiakea, Lady ‘Riders bowlers ready to roll with unbeaten marks
By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
The way Waiakea’s Tracy and Calvin Nakashima see it, anything could happen Saturday during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation bowling team championships.
That’s when a pair of league titles and 10 state berths will be on the line at Hilo Lanes. Action starts at 9 a.m. with the team semifinals and after a lunch break, resumes at 1 p.m. with the finals.
The BIIF boys and girls team champion will each be awarded five berths in the state championships, scheduled Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Leeward Bowl on Oahu.
Waiakea is the four-time defending BIIF boys and girls team champion.
The Warrior boys, under Tracy Nakashima, finished the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record. But he’s already cautioned his talented team about Saturday’s do-or-die situation.
“We’re confident going into Saturday, but we know we’re going to have to take it one game at a time,” Nakashima said. “It’s going to come down who spares and makes their shots count. If we want to finish the BIIF season undefeated, we’ve got to take care of business Saturday.”
In the morning semifinals, top-seeded Waiakea will battle No. 4 Konawaena while No. 2 Hilo takes on No. 3 Kamehameha.
Nakashima is looking for a balanced team effort.
“We need everyone to step up and bowl well,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a struggle no matter who we go up against. We’re going to have to earn it. But we’re confident and know what we need to do.”
Nakashima has four returnees to count on: sophomores Prayse Chung (160.24 per game average), Kylan Sakata (157.58) and Jhumar Martinez (160.50) and junior Garyn Hoota (151.96). All four are among the BIIF’s top 11 by scoring average and are headed to states as individuals. However, if the Warriors win the team title, a fifth Warrior will get a state berth, too.
“We’ve got a young team with experience, so that should help us,” said Nakashima, adding that sophomores Jayke Sakai and Taylor Matsunaga have provided solid support to the returning bowlers.
Waiakea’s John Kaipo was the BIIF boys champion last year as a senior.
Hilo, under veteran coach Damien Chow, is led by Kendrick Dacayanan, who led the BIIF with a 163.45 average during the regular season. The smooth Dacayanan started the season slowly and heated up as the competition grew tougher. In 22 games, he knocked down 3,596 pins.
Konawaena’s Stefan Kimura was close behind Dacayanan, averaging 161.46 in 13 games.
Waiakea’s Martinez and Chung were next. Keaau’s Erik Arnold (157.83) was fifth and Kamehameha’s Ryder Matsuyama (158.92) was seventh, a spot behind Sakata.
Calvin Nakashima, the longtime Warriors girls coach and father of Tracy, predicts an exciting girls battle Saturday.
In the semifinals at 9 a.m., it’s No. 1 Kealakehe vs. No. 4 Konawaena and No. 2 Hilo vs. No. 3 Waiakea.
The unbeaten Waveriders (8-0) are paced by Mika Parish, who led the BIIF with a 156.69 average during the regular season. Teammates Desiree Ichishita (141.54), Paulaine Gampon (130.58) and Tiffany Kurozawa (130.06) were also in the league’s top 15 in scoring.
“It all looks fairly even,” the elder Nakashima said. “Hilo is always tough. Our kids just need to think positive and have confidence in themselves. On Saturday, the team that bowls well will be the team that goes up to states.
“That’s great motivation for all the teams — if you win, you go as a team with five bowlers. I have seven returnees with experience, and that should help us.”
Waiakea’s top five bowlers have been juniors Kaelya Iwamoto (144.23 avg.) and Stephanie Aki (126.70), senior Zoe Kimura (132.14), and sophomores Brook Casiera (140.63) and Rikelle Sakoda (126.48).
Casiera is the defending BIIF girls individual champion. The league will send 14 bowlers to the state tournament — the BIIF individual champion, five members from the title team, and the top eight bowlers in the league by average.
The Warriors girls coach agrees with his son that “every spare in the tournament will count.”
“I have a lot of confidence in my team,” Calvin Nakashima said. “Last year, we were down 200 pins going into the final game and we won the championship. They understand what it takes to win. On Saturday, it’s going to come down to who has their game on.”
Tracy Nakashima agrees.
“The bowlers are going to have to make adjustments to the lanes,” he said. “They’re going to have to work at it. Maturity and experience will help, but it’s going to come down to who makes their shots count.”
Hilo is led by Kayla Okimoto (145.40), who holds the league’s fourth-best average, Caitlyn Price (142.14), Kanoe Brickwood (140.00), Britnee Brooks (135.72) and Riley Cabarloc (135.58).
Konawaena’s Madison Staup is second in a BIIF with a 153.25 average, and teammate Jordan Pond (150.64) is third.
The BIIF individual championships will be held Oct. 12 at Hilo Lanes.
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