By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Lindsey Kimura is far too modest to call it a warning shot, but that’s essentially what she fired to start the season.
From there, she never wavered.
The Waiakea junior has had the steadiest hands in Big Island Interscholastic Federation air riflery.
Just don’t ask her how. That’s not something that Kimura can put her finger on.
“I really don’t know,” she said. “Before I was an underdog, and all of a sudden my score really went up. Being able to shoot this high and being able to have the highest average is such a surprise to me. It’s weird. I’m actually good at something.”
Better than good, actually. Kimura topped all the boys shooters, too.
At the BIIF championships today at Kamehameha, her greatest competition figures to come from, as usual, her teammates: Karise Kuroda, Kellie Iwasaki and Crystal Rances.
“My friends, my teammates are right there up with me,” Kimura said. “I have no doubt in my mind that they have a chance of beating me. I’m not superior in anyway. I’m just glad to prove myself for once.”
Karyl-Lin Yamakawa and Jamie Ikeda finished Nos. 5 and 6 during the regular season — good enough to be a front-runner at any other school — but at powerhouse Waiakea that relegates them to spectator status at BIIFs. They’ll rejoin their teammates in the lineup Tuesday at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament at Kamehameha.
“This season is the season of our ladies. A seasoned crew. It’s the girls turn,” coach Terence Moniz said.
Tyler Aburamen is the top-seeded boy, leading a Waiakea team that will feature four shooters making their first appearance at BIIFs. Aburamen averaged 262, but he’d like to see that rise to around a 270 today.
“Season went OK, I guess,” he said. “I could have done better.”
Nobody has performed better than Lindsey Kimura. She set the foundation for her season with a 268, easily a personal best, and went on to distance herself from the field with an average (264) almost nine points higher than that of Iwasaki and Kuroda.
“That’s a big gap,” Moniz said. “That’s a huge gap.”
If Kimura keeps it up today, the BIIF title will stay in her family. Her sister Megan won her second straight title last year, edging Kuroda by a point as a senior. Lindsey Kimura and Iwasaki were just four points back in a tie for third.
“I started air riflery because of (Megan), but we’re a lot different,” Lindsey Kimura said. “I try to be cool (like her) going into the competitions. People look at me and think I’m calm. For this weekend, I’m kind of nervous. I really am.
“The coaches are really good about keeping us sane and preparing us for competition and states, so when we do get there it’s not that big a deal.”
And the Warriors support system is as strong as ever. Waiakea Gym is a popular place to be during nighttime practices. There are parents everywhere, and recent graduates help run the show, including defending BIIF champion Brandon Lau.
As Moniz puts it: “The machine just keeps on rolling, and the gears have been lubricated this year even more so.”
If Kimura or Iwasaki, the defending state champion, don’t continue the legacy, then perhaps Kuroda will. The junior missed out on a BIIF title last year by a matter of milimeters.
“I tried too hard, so now I’m having fun with it and shooting way better,” she said. “Not trying to stress myself out with shooting a number.”
Kuroda shoots left-handed, so she and and her good friend Kimura get a face-to-face look at how each is doing. Kimura noted that neither of them is all that laid-back or reserved, seemingly important traits for their sport.
“I’m an active person. I can’t play golf, I need to be running around, I need to play tennis,” Kimura said. “Karise is the same way. She plays soccer. This is totally opposite for us.”
The boys leaderboard during the regular season was tighter than the girls. Aburamen finished ahead of teammates Justin Joe Gray, who fired a BIIF-best 273 on Oct. 11, and Abraham Sylvester. Kealakehe’s Matt Silva was fourth, keeping the Warriors from taking the top six spots. Waiakea’s Brentson Kinoshita and Cody Yamada tied for fifth, but Yamada will get the nod in Waiakea’s lineup today.
Silva’s third-place finish at BIIFs last year is the highest of any returning shooter, but Aburamen said Waiakea has designs on the top four spots.
“We plan to sweep,” he said.
Hilo’s Caryn Okamoto used a late surge to finish with the seventh-best average, as did Konawaena’s Michael Raiano. They’ll both participate at states provided a shooter ranked below them doesn’t win today. First shot is 10 a.m.
1. Lindsey Kimura, Waiakea 264
2. Karise Kuroda, Waiakea 255.33
3. Kellie Iwasaki, Waiakea 255.33
4. Crystal Rances, Waiakea 252.6
5. Jamie Ikeda, Waiakea 252.33
6. Karyl-Lin Yamakawa, Waiakea 251.33
7. Caryn Okamoto, Hilo 250
8. Kealapua Bernabe, Kamehameha 247.33
9. Mary Kimura, Waiakea 247.33
10. Maileen Nakashima, Waiakea 245
1. Tyler Aburamen, Waiakea 262
2. Justin Joe Gray, Waiakea 259.67
3. Abraham Sylvester, Waiakea 257.33
4. Matthew Silva, Kealakehe 251.33
5. Brentson Kinoshita, Waiakea 250.67
5. Cody Yamada, Waiakea 250.67
6. Michael Raiano, Konawaena 249
7. Edgar Barclay, St. Joseph 245
8. Cameron Gomes, Konawaena 244
9. Tre Soultz, Waiakea 242.33
10. Reyn Mukai, Waiakea 241