Back on track | News, Sports, Jobs
WAILUKU– Exactly two years and one day after the last Maui Interscholastic League meet, runners, throwers and jumpers were finally back at the Yamamoto Track & Field Facility on Friday to compete in MIL’s #1 meet.
“It was very exciting because for the last two years we couldn’t do anything because of COVID, so to be back here with everyone and all my friends is really cool,” Baldwin High School sophomore Arjei Paet said.
Paet’s early track and field experience in high school was nothing short of high energy – he just took first place in the third run of the 400 meters (he finished tied for third) with a time of 57.0 seconds.
Coming down the home stretch, it was Paet on the outside, Kale Spencer of Kamehameha Maui and Daniel Birkholz of Seabury in the mid lanes, and Timothy Heile of Lahainaluna on the inside lane.
It was anyone’s race with about 30 meters to go.
“I knew once I hit 200 I had to go,” Pat said. “I could feel them catching me, so I knew I had to have the last kick.”
King Kekau’s second year, Kalena Akinaka, also got her first taste of the track. Crossing the line in 54.21 seconds to win the girls’ 300m hurdles was better than she expected.
“It was really, really good. I didn’t think I was going to do this well. Akinaka said with a smile. “I kept telling myself ‘go on and jump over the hurdles.’ “
Trying a more technical event was fun, she added, and her coaches “were really supportive.”
Earlier in the competition, junior Kamehameha Maui Kirra Spalding cleared 4-foot-8 to win the girls’ high jump.
“In training, I’m doing pretty well…just trying to do my best,” Spalding said, adding that she hopes to clear 4-10 next time around. “I’m really excited to see how I’m doing and I love if I get to the United States.”
After winning the boys’ 100 meters in 10.92, Joseph Randolph of Baldwin said the energy was much higher than at the Valley Isle Track Club season, which drew a much smaller and neater group of competitors. had no fans due to COVID-19. The club was created to give young people the chance to compete after pandemic restrictions wiped out prep sports.
Randolph Bears teammates Kelvyn Saito and Ryan Padron followed in second and third respectively.
“It feels good, there are a lot more people here” said Randolph, who also later won the Boys 200. “A lot more people are cheering, so it feels good to have everyone back, for everyone.”
In a thrilling 400 relay, Randolph came from behind on the anchor leg to win the race for the Bears with a time of 45.81.
“I think we look pretty good” said the younger.
In the distance events, Seabury senior Kaylee Volner won the girls’ 1,500 and 3,000m under the Friday night lights.
Kihei Charter’s Tanya Kari – who, like many on Friday, was competing in her first-ever track and field meet – is coming off the cross country season.
It was “fun to see everyone” and run shorter distances,” Kari said after finishing second in the 1,500m.
Officials and coaches also shared their enthusiasm throughout the competition. Tiger Sharks coach Cassie Kepler said “it’s like a privilege” be back with the team.
“I think before I didn’t recognize it as a privilege, but now I’m like ‘hey, we’re here’ and it’s so nice to see people and spectators, and so many of our kids are new and don’t know nothing to follow and are so excited,” Kepler said while keeping the times. “So it’s new energy and it feels really good.”
* Dakota Grossman is at [email protected]