By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Talk about friendly fire.
Waiakea’s Lindsey Kimura had just finished up a grueling day of shooting when she saw cause for concern. Unaware of anyone’s score, Kimura looked to her left and noticed that teammate Karise Kuroda was running out of time.
“She was going down to the very last second and I was freaking out,” Kimura said. “I was so worried (for her). I was holding my breath for her to finish.”
Kimura can exhale now. Her friend made it, and little did she know it at the time, but Kimura had just wrapped up the Big Island Interscholastic Federation air riflery championship.
The two juniors were inseparable Saturday at Koai‘a Gym from start to finish. They hung out before the finals started, they competed side by side and encouraged each other through the double portions of three shooting events, then they fittingly finished 1-2 atop the leaderboard.
Kimura shot seven bull’s-eyes in the final event (kneeling) to overtake Kuroda 519-513.
“We talk to each other through the whole thing,” Kimura said. “I was actually really nervous. Really, really, really nervous. We were trying to calm each other down. I thought we had the same score.”
Nobody was in striking distance of Waiakea’s Justin-Joe Gray. The junior continued the boys team’s strong legacy, leading from the start and pulling away.
Lindsey Kimura, meanwhile, extended a family legacy. Her older sister, Megan Kimura, a 2012 Waiakea graduate, was the two-time defending champion.
Kimura set the tone for her season with a personal best at Kamehameha to start the year. Competitors’ scores dropped a bit Saturday in muggy conditions, but Kimura, the top seed, was again the most consistent.
“I feel like I do well at Kamehameha for some reason,” she said. “I don’t know why.”
That could bode well for her at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships, which will be held Tuesday at Koai‘a Gym.
Waiakea’s Crystal Rances (505) was third, while Hilo’s Caryn Okamoto (505) kept the Warriors from sweeping the top four spots. Rances won a tiebreaker because she made more bull’s-eyes (8-5).
Waiakea’s Kellie Iwasaki (502), who will defend her state championship on Tuesday, was fifth.
“It’s up to us represent the Big Island,” Kimura said. “It’s not so much about winning (individually), it’s about getting the team scores. It’s a team effort when it comes to states.
Kuroda led after each of the first two events (prone, standing), but she finished BIIF runner-up for the second consecutive year. She lost on the final shot last year. This time, she got off to a bad start during kneeling.
“My first paper was junk, the second one I picked it up and did way better. I don’t think the time (had an effect).
“I didn’t screw up like last year. It’s OK.”
Waiakea has won each boys and girls team title since air riflery became a BIIF sport. And while the Warriors churn out quality shooters like few schools in the state, perhaps no participant has improved more than Gray.
While a lot of shooters failed to reach their average Saturday, Gray surpassed his with a 534.
“He was cool under pressure,” Waiakea coach Terence Moniz said.
In doing so, Gray filled a void for a Warriors squad that graduated all four of its shooters last season.
“I grew up. I felt calm and focused and followed our coaches,” he said. “The boys on the line were cheering each other on. It was a team effort.
“I had a couple of bad shots, but others made up for them.”
Waiakea’s Abraham Sylvester (514) and Tyler Aburamen (506) took second and third, while Konawaena’s Josiah Lerback (503) and Kealakehe’s Matt Silva (501) rounded out the top five.
Scores in prone, standing and kneeling positions with total and bull’s-eyes
Lindsey Kimura, Waiakea 183-155-181—519 (14)
Karise Kuroda, Waiakea 188-153-172—513 (10)
Crystal Rances, Waiakea 173-156-176—505 (8)
Caryn Okamoto, Hilo 180-156-169—505 (5)
Kellie Iwasaki, Waiakea 187-149-166—502 (7)
Kealapua Bernabe, Kamehameha 182-140-175—497 (7)
Jade Thomas, St. Joseph 156-154-164—474 (4)
Jessie Coney, Kamehameha 173-127-172—472 (7)
Raeoi Espejo, Laupahoehoe 169-145-157—471 (2)
Tori Koyanagi, Konawaena 171-148-144—463 (3)
Hannah Pavao, Kamehameha 172-132-158—462 (6)
Amelia Warnock, Hilo 159-136-166—461 (5)
Ashley Lynch, Konawaena 167-135-153—455 (0)
Nicole Kahoopii, Kamehameha 168-136-148—452 (2)
Liza Saludares, Hilo 166-136-147—449 (2)
Kamrie Koi, Ka’u 174-93-144—411 (5)
Janae Pacheco, Christian Liberty 156-118-129—403 (2)
Michelle Song, St. Joseph 158-102-128—388 (3)
Brianne Schlegelmilch, St. Joseph 152-100-118—370 (1)
Hinatea Otare, Kealakehe 131-102-121—354 (1)
Mia Gangwes, Ka’u 152-81-81—314 (2)
Maile Espejo, Ka’u 116-71-88—275 (1)
Justin-Joe Gray, Waiakea 186-166-182—534 (10)
Abrahan Sylvester, Waiakea 183-164-167—514 (8)
Tyler Aburamen, Waiakea 182-151-173—506 (7)
Josiah Lerback, Konawaena 184-157-162—503 (10)
Matt Silva, Kealakehe 184-141-181—501(11)
Cameron Gomes, Konawaena 174-156-161—491 (10)
Cody Yamada, Waiakea 175-154-152—481 (4)
Vernon Warnock, Hilo 177-141-161—479 (5)
Edgar Barclay, St. Joseph 170-144-157—471 (4)
Austin Ah Hee, Kamehameha 170-148-146—464 (3)
Michael Raiano, Konawaena 176-126-159—461 (6)
Robert Omija, Konawaena 172-127-159—458
Justin Raymond, Kealakehe 180-108-166—454 (7)
Wyatt Wilson, Hilo 174-125-126—425 (1)
Kahulali Reyes, Kamehameha 173-120-131—424 (3)
Sean Ichinose, Christian Liberty 174-104-144—422 (6)
Kahekili Donner, Kamehameha 174-127-117—418 (4)
Leysen Horiuchi-Okamura, Hilo 166-105-145—416 (3)
Alex Rapoza, Hilo 166-102-138—406 (5)
Rich Kuamoo, Kamehameha 147-117-107—371 (2)
John Lindenau, St. Joseph 150-60-102—312 (0)
(Bases on season average)
Tyler Aburamen, Waiakea
Justin-Joe Gray, Waiakea
Abraham Sylvester, Waiakea
Cody Yamada, Waiakea
Cody Silva, Kealakehe
Brentson Kinoshita, Waiakea
Michael Raiano, Konawaena
Edgar Barclay, St. Joseph
Cameron Gomes, Konawaena
Lindsey Kimura, Waiakea
Karise Kuroda, Waiakea
Kellie Iwasaki, Waiakea
Crystal Rances, Waiakea
Jamie Ikeda, Waiakea
Karyl-Lin Yamakawa, Waiakea
Caryn Okamoto, Hilo
Kealapua Bernabe, Kamehameha
Mary Kimura, Waiakea