It was a year to be proud of for many of Kaua’i’s athletes, who challenged the state, and the nation, for that matter, for championships.
However, the top sports story for 2005 involves a national youth baseball organization (PONY) and a 10-year-old deaf Lihu’e boy, who, along with his family, are fighting the organization and its attempt to not allow Pono Tokioka an interpreter inside the dug-out of his youth-baseball games.
The story made national headlines, and it was the top story for most of the state’s TV news stations.
The Tokioka’s are currently still in the midst of trying to the get the rule amended, but it could be a long battle.
However, no battle might be worth more to fight for than this one for the Tokiokas.
The second top sports story of 2005 also got some national attention, as the Lihue Patriots pee wee football team stormed the rest of the nation with a Division II Pop Warner Superbowl title in Florida.
And, for as long as I can remember, no team was treated to a first-rate parade on Rice Street, and the Patriots got one, believed to be the firstever parade for a sports team on Kaua’i.
Head Coach Mario Longboy and his diligent staff worked hard for the win, and players like Taren Tani, Travis Koga, and Calen Kimura highlighted the strong effort.
Kapa’a’s first state boys volleyball title ranks as the third best story of 2005. Led by Head Coach Merrill Carvalho, the Warriors ran off a perfect season with an umblemished KIF record and a superb state run as well.
Lyndon Pascual, Chaz Galvez, Henry Borges, Danny Rodrick, and Kaina Kahaunaele helped pace Kapa’a’s amazing run.
Tiger Woods’ sixth PGA Grand Slam of Golf title at the Po’ipu Bay Golf Course, which might be the last time Tiger and the threesome of other top golfers see the island, ranks fourth.
Sometime in January, the PGA is expected to make a decision to where the next Grand Slam of Golf will be held.
Las Vegas and the Caribbean are two of the top spots interested in hosting the slam.
Waimea’s soccer boys weren’t lucky this past season; they were good. The Menehune took down four-time defending state champion Mililani en route to a third-place finish at the state tournament. Led by Chad Thompson, Justin Estes, and Kollin Morikawa, the Menehune were the top public school team in the state.
35 years is a long time and Kapa’a’s girls volleyball squad erased the slew of years in one kill.
The Warriors and head coach Kaipo Kealalio III dominated the KIF, with just a couple of seniors on their roster.
Kellen Watabu and the Kaua’i boys golf team won their second straight state title, which gives them the seventh spot on the list.
Watabu was the top boys golfer in the state and Kaua’i should be a contender again this season. Bethany Hamilton and Kyle Ramey won national surfing titles this past year and that handed them the eighth spot on the Kaua’i sports list.
The ninth story also headed to the beach, as the Kaua’i Jr. Lifeguard program ripped off its second straight state title. The group, led by Jackie Brady, Ben Baldwin, Emma Makepa-Foley, and many others, won this year’s title at Kalapaki Beach.
Larry Bowman of Falko Partners has a rich history of giving back to the community and his efforts helped out the Lihu’e Pop Warner Association to the tune of $15,000. Also, the same day, Lihu’e announced that they would begin drug testing coaches, making them the first in the state to do so.
Honorable mention: For the firsttime ever, the Kaua’i girls swept the KIF track and field championships. Moses Punzal signed with Portland St. for football. The rubberization of the Vidinha Stadium track. Jordan Dizon earns All-Big 12 honorable mention honors. Brennan Carvalho receives All-Big Sky First Team accolades.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.