KEAAU — Meagan Kualii and Harper Hottendorf each won a sprint, while Casey Poe and Mikela Cabel took turns one-upping each other in the hurdles. For good measure, the four Kamehameha athletes teamed up to capture the 400-meter relay.
At times, Saturday’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation track and field meet at Paiea Stadium looked like the Warriors’ own invitational. Or better yet for coach Manly Kanoa, an extension of practice.
“We want to show our parents a good time and let everyone know where it is we like to run,” Kanoa said. “These meets are not for them to race other schools. I think if they just race against each other in these meets, they’re going to be great.”
Each member of the Kamehameha quartet is well-seasoned and all are seniors except for Kualii, a junior.
“You’ve got kids that have experience from last year and went to states and competed really hard,” Kanoa said. “Led by Casey Poe, who’s basically done everything for our school for four years here.”
Poe is a two-time BIIF Player of the Year in basketball. The honor eluded her this past season, as did a third consecutive Hawaii High School Athletic Association championship and a fourth BIIF title.
But she’s still got one last chapter to add to her storied high school athletic career.
“Her experience helps her compete, but the athleticism has been what’s gotten her to this level in track,” Kanoa said. “With her, there’s no quit, and she’s all about the hard work and coming out and doing things the right way every day.”
Poe was one of four athletes to win two individual events, claiming the 100 hurdles (16.30 seconds) and triple jump (34 feet, 9.75 inches) at the second league meet of the season. Cabel finished second in the 100 hurdles but relegated Poe to runner-up by claiming the 300 (47.73).
“It’s such a horrible race,” Kanoa said of the hurdles. “It’s nice that they are going out there and pushing each other and competing against each other.
“It’s good Mikela and Casey have each and that Harper and Meagan have each other.”
Both BIIF sprint champion graduated last season — as did Ka’u’s Marley Strand-Nicolaisen, who three won golds, including the long jump and triple jump — and Kanoa was encouraged by the way Kualii and Hottendorf handled their business with league-best times this season. Kualli won the 100 (13.13), while Hottendorf took the 200 (27.17).
“We want our two girls to really work those two events,” Kanoa said. “We don’t want it up for grabs, we want to lock it down as soon as possible.”
Kualii placed runner-up in both jumps. In the long jump she finished behind Kealakehe freshman Nicole Cristobal, who qualified for states with a leap of 16-7. Kualii jumped 16-10 on March 15 at Konawaena.
Poe is the defending BIIF champion in the 100 hurdles, surging ahead last May when the race leaders, Konawaena’s Ua Ruedy and Hawaii Prep’s Emma Taylor, fell on the last hurdle. Taylor went on to win the event at states — Poe was third — but the sophomore hasn’t competed the past two weeks.
When BIIFs roll around May 3 at Keaau, Kamehameha may need its Big 4 to dominate in order to make up for a scarcity of throwers. Last season, Hilo rode strong performances in the discus and shot put to the title.
“Depth-wise, we’re better than we’ve been in the last 3-4 years,” Kanoa said. “We’ve got girls who can take points away from other schools.”
The other double winners Saturday were Kamehameha’s Rihei Grothmann (300 hurdles, triple jump) and Konawaena’s Luca Vartic (100, 200) on the boys side, along with Hilo’s Carmen Garson-Shumway (800, 1,500) and Waiakea’s Ofa Folau (shot put, discus), who perhaps signaled an end to the Vikings’ dominance in those events.
“The throwing is really even this year,” Hilo coach Bill McMahon said. “It’s not going to be the same as it was last year.”
Waiakea’s Ian McQuate won the 800 but the double-BIIF winner from a year ago was denied a second victory in the 3,000 when Hilo’s Stephen Hunter (9:38.37) held him off by one one-hundredth of a second.
Hunter beat his previous best by eight seconds.
“He finished the last quarter-mile strong,” McMahon said. “He hasn’t always done that. He finally figured that out.”
The 3,000 was close, but perhaps the best competition of the meet came in the boys triple jump, where Grothmann (40-9.75), Keaau’s Cohlby Roy Espaniola and Hilo’s Caleb Jon Statler-Ellamar were separated by just three-quarters of an inch.
“When you’re talking about 40 feet, that’s pretty close,” McMahon said.