WAIKOLOA — Jake Sequin got out front and never looked back. He didn’t have to.
After a scorching first round 68 at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course that featured seven birdies on his first 13 holes, Sequin carded a 1-under par 71 on Friday to finish 5-under 139 at the two-day HHSAA state championships, cruising to the title.
“It’s pretty shocking. I’m in disbelief,” said Sequin. “I don’t know when it will hit me.”
Sequin — a sophomore, who finished sixth in the ILH championships — is only the second individual state champion from Mid Pacific and the first since Troy Higashiyama accomplished the feat in 2003.
“He works hard,”said Mid Pac assistant coach Tyler Isono, who walked with Sequin in the final round. “We felt it was going to happen, but maybe around the time he graduated. Doing it his sophomore year is a nice surprise. He put himself in a nice spot early and finished the job.”
Sequin’s first round was by far his best of the season, and thanks to the hot start, the sophomore Owl entered the final round with a two-stroke lead on Roosevelt’s Kolbe Irei.
“My putting was on fire and I was confident off the tee,” Sequin said. “That was key for me.”
However, with the state’s best high school golfers playing chase on a relatively still day in Waikoloa, the lead was anything but comfortable.
“I was just trying not to think about anything but the hole by hole score,” Sequin said. “Nothing about the overall standings or what other people were doing. Just what I was doing.”
Irei (74-71—141) finished two strokes back and settled for second, but made things very interesting with an eagle chip on No. 18 that he chased up the hill.
Kealakehe’s Ethan Jaehn rounded out the top three and was the best BIIF golfer in the field, carding a 1-over 145 during the two-day tourney. He finished in a tie with Maryknoll’s Peter Jung.
“It feels nice to represent the Big Island and Kealakehe,” Jaehn said. “Coming in, I was looking to finish top 10 — I would have been happy with that. But third place is awesome.”
It was the highest individual finish by a BIIF golfer since Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Nainoa Calip finished second in 2010. It tied for the highest finish by a Waverider since Henry Park was third overall at the 2009 state tournament held at the Royal Kaanapali Course on Maui.
It was a home course advantage for the 11 BIIF golfers in the 94-man field, but Jaehn was the only one who could have chipped from his doorstep to the first tee. He lives just behind the first hole and says he plays the course four to five times a week.
“I know this course so well, I’m just relaxed out there,” said Jaehn, who was fifth at last month’s BIIF championships. “When I swing here I feel it’s going to go straight every time.”
He also got an unexpected assist from YouTube.
“I was watching some Tommy Fleetwood highlights. He does a 3/4-finish and I thought why not try it,” Jaehn said. “I started doing it and my irons were working well. After I felt that I was like, ‘let’s go’”
He edged out Kamehameha-Hawaii senior Pono Yanagi, the BIIF champion, by a stroke for top Big Islander honors. The Warrior senior finished fifth, his best showing at the state tourney.
“I felt confident out there,” Yanagi said. “Unfortunately today didn’t end the way I wanted, but it is my best finish. I started out great but hit a couple of bumps.”
Yanagi notched three consecutive birdies from holes No. 3-5, but a four-putt on seven for double-bogey stopped his momentum.
“That threw me off,” he said. “I had to calm myself down and find my tempo. Fortunately the last few holes I was able to do that.”
After Yanagi found his rhythm again, he birdied the final two holes, a proper last stand for the Washington State bound BIIF standout.
“I was thinking about it a little this morning that this would be my last one,” Yanagi said. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life at Washington State and I’m hoping I will do some good things up there.”
Hilo’s Riley Kaneshiro (80-75—155) and Waiakea’s Isaiah Kanno (77-78—155) finished inside the top 20.
Hawaii Baptist comfortably won the team title with a 42-over 618, outpacing second place Mid Pacific (652). Iolani was third (655) and Waiakea (657) was close behind in fourth.