By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Their gymnastics background came in handy when they decided to give diving a try.
But Hawaii Prep swimming Mark Noetzel noted Hadley Beach, Kaili Yuen and Kate McGuiness still had at least one obstacle to overcome during the transition.
“They’re learning how to land on their heads instead of their feet,” Noetzel said.
More than happy these days not to land on their feet, Beach, Yuen and McGuiness figure to give Ka Makani a nice head start at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation swimming and diving championships at Kamehameha’s Naeole Pool.
The trials are at 3:30 p.m. today, while the swimming portion of the finals are set to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday. However, at 12:45 p.m., four divers, all from HPA, will get the festivities off to a start. Lawson Nerenberg is the only BIIF diver on the boys side.
Beach, Yuen and McGuiness are poised to give HPA a 21-point lead out of the gate, and Kealakehe coach Steve Borowski says that could be too much to overcome for the Waveriders, the two-time defending girls champions.
Noetzel doesn’t necessarily agree, he’s just happy high school diving is still alive on the Big Island.
“It’s significant for the sport,” he said. “We hope their interest continues.”
Beach, Yuen and Nerenberg have all qualified for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships. Last week at Hilo High, Beach (337.15 points) and Yuen (296.65) each surpassed the 28-year BIIF record for 3-meter diving.
The finals could come down to a question of depth.
HPA’s swimming roster is 20-plus strong, including Taylor Doherty and Katie Jefferson.
Kealakehe carries the star power at the top with Cara Jernigan and Leahi Camacho — the only returning defending girls champions — but Borowski isn’t confident his eight swimmers will be enough to churn out a team title.
“HPA is the favorite, unless there is something that happens,” he said.
On the boys side the past two years, Waiakea has used one Adam Hill gold and a bevy of depth to claim the team title.
Hill is back, and Waiakea coach Bill Sakovich could see a similar scenario unfolding this season.
“But we’ll have to get creative with our strategy,” hesaid.
Hilo’s Ryan Bisel, Jordan Kamimura and Cody Hamane are a threat to bring home four golds apiece, but the trio’s dominance wasn’t enough to overtake the Warriors last year.
The other returning BIIF champion is freestyle sprinter Jake Anderson of HPA.