in the Sunrise Athletics participated at the Hawaii State Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships on July 7-8 on Oahu. Qualifying night started with Sunrise athletes muscling their way to the finish to secure final spots for a chance at running in finals. Shaely Dela Cruz just competed in a highly competitive week-long volleyball tournament the previous week, but had enough reserves to finish in 8th place overall in the 400m sprint. Cyrus Bower, another middle school sprinter, had similar results in having to put in a final surge the last 50m to secure a spot and finished 8th overall in the 400m. High school sprinter, Sydirah Aricayos, had a busy day at finals and sprinted home for several medals in the following events: 100m-3rd place, 200m-2nd place, 400m-1st place. Aricayos also claimed gold in the long jump by soaring past her competitor with a length of 14’-6”.
Another jumper, Cathryn Krueger, leaped to victory over a stacked field with a jump of 13’-8.25”. Eight year-old and newcomer Rylan Gumbs, despite being among the youngest of jumpers for his division, was able to take home an 8th place medal with a jump of 9”-5.75’, which was an inch shy of the fifth place spot. Meanwhile, in the triple jump, Cassidy Denault hopped-skipped-jumped her way to gold with a distance of 26’-8.75”. Teammate Teryn Tominaga, of whom had all four events on one day, had enough legs left to follow with a bronze.
As for the middle and long distance races, Sunrise Athletics continued to show its strengths and talents in those events. Among the middle school athletes, Kacie Tagawa, despite being mixed with a group of older-aged harriers, showed no fear against her competition and took an early lead in the 1500m. Tagawa set a personal best in the event with a solid time of 6:06.49, which resulted in a bronze medal finish. Later that day, Tagawa put forth an equal performance in the 800m to capture a silver medal. Teammates Akemi and Teryn Tominaga followed in 4th and 5th place respectively. High schooler, Jaeda Yamasaki, put forth a steady performance in the 3000m by hanging close to a pack of Renegade runners. In the process, she surpassed several athletes and shaved close to a minute off her personal best time, which was good for gold.
Among the boys, middle school athlete Kederang Ueda, of whom races with the heart of a lion, is always driven by the need to prove he can stick with the “big boys” of the club. Thus, his efforts resulted in a hard-earned double gold in the 1500m and 3000m distance races. Another up and coming youngster, eight year-old Shane Tominaga also ran the 800m race. Tominaga started off conservative, but made his way to the front line and had a nail biting finish against Pacific Rim’s Zamontae Miller. Tominaga claimed silver with a personal best time of 2:51.45.
With great performances from outer-island clubs and all Sunrise athletes, the day belonged to the golden boys of distance running. When athletes finish their high school season in May, some are more inclined to retire their track shoes for the summer. However, that was not the case for the Sunrise club harriers. The hard work and time that these motivated harriers put forth, paid off. The Sunrise boys dominated the distance races, among a mixture of older and fairly talented outer-island harriers.
The first day featured 3000m runners stepping onto the line. Steven Chung, the current BIIF 3000m champion from Hilo High School, was untouchable and led the way for the rest of his teammates, of whom train with the mentality and focus of packing like wolves on a hunt. While content to let Chung be in his own world, Sunrise teammates Elisha Watkins, Joshua Ho, and Deylan Okinaka worked to stay within 14 seconds of one another and passed athletes the last stages of the race to claim second to fourth place overall.
The following day was filled with even greater excitement. In the 1500m, a pack of mixed shades of blue remained intact for the first two-laps of the race. Then, Sunrise athlete Eric Cabais-Fernandez, running calm and collected, took control. Menehune Track Club’s Frank Condello refused to bow out and Sunrise teammate, Chung, hung in third. However, during the closing stages of the race, a dramatic finish unfolded. Menehune track coach pointed, “Look at that Big Island boy.” Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, Chung displayed what champions do when the stakes are high. Chung threw in his signature kick to surpass Condello with about 75 meters remaining, and at the end, Chung out leaned teammate Cabais-Fernandez to earn his second gold. Both boys were separated by eight-hundredths of a second, and were immediately followed by strong performances from teammates Ho and Watkins respectively.
Motivated by the previous race against his own teammate, Cabais-Fernandez bolted out quick, and never looked back to claim a gold of his own in the 800m race. A pack of Sunrise athletes followed Cabais-Fernandez, and charged to the finish within eight seconds of one another. Ho, Chung, Watkins, and Okinaka rounded out the top 5 spots respectively.
Another successful run for Sunrise Athletics, and with much gratitude to the following summer coaches for their support in coaching these keikis: Debbie Bierne, Tony Denault, Nick Finger, Brent Nakamura, Ivan Okinaka, Vandey Okinaka, Skye Rances, Kaylee Rapoza, and Dyson Sato.
(Photos credited to Desi Okinaka)