KEALAKEKUA — The Konawaena boys track team may have lost some incredible talent last year, but the team’s expectations remain the same after finishing runner up in the 2017 HHSAA state track and field tournament.
The Wildcats’ season got off to a good start on Saturday. Hosting the first meet of the year, Konawaena defeated runner-up Waiakea 137-101. Rounding out the field were Hilo (84), Kealakehe (60.5), Keaau (59.5) Kamehameha-Hawaii (48) and St. Joseph (2).
Starting their dominance with the relays, the Wildcats swept the field in both the 4×100 and 4×400 meter distances.
For Konawaena head coach Patrick Bradley, the team’s success starts with competing in the relay events.
“When I was hired here, I built the team around the relays,” Bradley said. “Everything else can build off of that. The relays produce great 100, 200, 400 and 800 runners. They also produce great jumpers.”
No two people validated this theory more during the opening meet than Josiah Vallez and Austin Ewing. Both were part of winning relay teams. But they also dominated all over the track.
The versatile Vallez blew away the field in the 400 (51.32 seconds), 800 (2:04.66) and 1500 4:23.34).
“”He is an incredible talent. He can run anything from the 100 to the 3000 and he has a chance to repeat as state champion on the 4×400 relay team,” Bradley said. “This year we want to focus on the events that combine both speed and endurance, so as the year progresses we will probably focus on the 800 and 1500.”
Ewing showed why he was worthy of his recent NCAA Division I football scholarship to Southern Utah. The standout on the gridiron blistered the field with his speed, winning the 100 (11.29) and 200 (22.63). To compete with some of the best in the state, Bradley believes the senior will need to shed about three-tenths of a second off his 100 and four-tenths off his 200, something the coach believes is very doable.
“He has fantastic speed and what he was able to accomplish today in the first meet, with only a couple of weeks of training, is pretty incredible,” Bradley said. “I’m sure Southern Utah will be happy with the times he put up. I think he has a good shot at winning at states in both events.”
Ewing has dedicated himself to the track team this year, instead of playing baseball like he did last season.
“He looks like the fastest kid on the island and this year he is giving us a full season so there is no telling what he could accomplish,” Bradley said.
Also standing out on the day for the Wildcats was Hauoli Akau and Alex Muti.
Akau was apart of both winning relay teams. He also finished second to Ewing in both both 100 and 200, while also winning the long jump with a distance of 20 feet, six inches.
Muti was the surprise of the meet for Bradley, winning the high jump with a height of 5 feet, 6 inches.
“In practice he usually finishes third,” Bradley said with a laugh.
In the girls competition, Waiakea took first with 129.5 points, followed by Hilo (117), Kealakehe (69), Kamehameha (67), Konawaena (62), Keaau (26), Hawaii Prep (13) and Ka’u (3.5).
Waiakea was led by their pole vaulters. The Warriors took the top five spots in the event. Jasmine Lewis led the way with a clearing height of 9-06. Rounding out the top three were Aaliyah Kahaloa-Young (9-00) and Mariah Higashi (8-00).
The next meet will take place this Saturday at Kamehameha. Fielding events will start at 9 a.m. and track events will start one hour later.