BIIF track and field: Konawaena’s Luca Vartic strives to succeed at states
KEAAU — Luca Vartic’s start was fine, but his turn wasn’t.
So even after the Konawaena sophomore recovered to narrowly keep his sprint perfection intact, it was clear playing catchup wasn’t part of his plan.
Vartic headed directly to the infield and flicked his shoes away in disgust.
“A junk race,” he said. “I want to beat them by 10 meters. High goals. I work hard.”
Upon further review, however, Vartic owned a personal-best of 22.83 seconds in the 200-meter dash at Saturday’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation track and field meet at Keaau High.
Vartic had reason to smile — if only for an instant.
“He’s never happy,” first-year Wildcats coach Patrick Bradley said. “He’s just a perfectionist. You won’t find a more dedicated athlete.”
Earlier, Vartic matched his season-best with a 11.27 in winning the 100, just off his personal-best. He hasn’t lost either race all year, often relegating Hilo’s Michael Williams to second. Williams carried a late lead in the 200, but Vartic finished strong to win by three one-hundredths of a second, the second time he’s run down Williams this season.
The undisputed favorite come BIIFs on May 3-4, Vartic said he’s rarely felt in trouble during the 100 this season.
“In the first race of the season, Mike gave me a run for my money,” he said. “Mike challenges me.”
Bradley said Vartic has the work ethic and motivation to succeed and looks forward to Vartic adding another inch to his 6-foot-2 frame.
“He’s really a good kid and only a 10th-grader,” Bradley said. “He’s really going to be something special.”
True to his nature, Vartic would prefer not to have to wait long. He played football in the fall and shoulder surgery slowed down his training.
Still, his goal is to win gold at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships this season. King Kekaulike’s Randolph Braun holds the best time in the state in the 100 (10.99) and 200 (22.26).
“I came into the season kind of nervous, but as I won I’ve lost the nervousness,” Vartic said. “I’m getting better every week.
“I want to break 11 before I get to states so I can go in confident.”
On prom day, Konawaena brought a reduced crew to East Hawaii, but Bradley lauded freshman Lawrence Barrett for reducing his time in the 1,500. Barrett took second behind Hilo’s Stephen Hunter.
While many athletes were paying close attention to their times and rankings, easy-going Kealakehe junior Alysa Gamache took a different approach.
“Coach tells me what to do, and I just go with it,” the first-year track athlete said.
Gamache not only earned her first victories of the season in the 100 (12.93) and 200 (26.72) but also recorded BIIF season-best times in the process and ended Kamehameha’s stranglehold on the two races.
After not playing a sport her first two years at Kealakehe, she said her mom helped push her toward joining the soccer team in the winter.
“I just decided to go for it,” Gamache said. “Everyone is telling me, ‘You got this,’ but I want to remain modest.
“But, yeah, I’m surprised.”
Meanwhile, the race could be on between the Waveriders and Warriors in the sprints at BIIFs.
In the 100, Gamache and freshman teammate Nicole Cristobal finished ahead of Kamehameha’s Harper Hottendorf and Meagan Kualii, and Gamache handed Hottendorf her first loss of the season in the 200.
Gamache also anchored the Waveriders to a state-qualifying time (51.49) in a 400 relay that saw Kamehameha’s formidable quartet — Casey Poe, Mikela Cabel, Hottendorf and Kualii — lower their BIIF-best time (51.09).
“Alysa’s learning to run and has a great stride,” Kealakehe coach Duke Hartfield said. “It’s just been about getting it all to come together.
“We didn’t know about head-to head competition. That was the goal today, and it was very successful.”
The biggest success of the meet came late when Hilo’s Mehana Sabado-Halpern recorded a high in the triple jump of 36 feet, 10 inches, vaulting her ahead of the rest of the state by more than a foot.
Sabado-Halpern competed in four other events — including a victory in the 400 in which she ran a league-best 59.79 — but the triple is the marque event for one of the league’s standout competitors.
“She manages the meet really well, better than any athlete I’ve ever had,” Hilo coach Bill McMahon said. “She moves from event to event that are really close to each other, and never gets flustered.”
Also for the Vikings, Carmen Garson-Shumway won the 3,000 in 10:50.52, giving her league-highs in all three distance races this season; and Kunda Nicholson-Walker reached 17-1 in the long jump, ranking her in the top five in the state.
The other athletes to record BIIF-bests Saturday were: Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Kaui Taylor, who again cleared 5-2 in the high jump, Christian Liberty’s Kekoa Mundo (400, 52.09) and Waiakea’s Louie Ondo (800, 2:04.65) and Ian McQuate (9:28.62, 3,000).