When Micah Swain of Anahola started pole vaulting in the seventh grade for Kamehameha Schools, he was just having fun.
He was given the recommendation to try the track and field event by his cousin, Jarom Kitashima, who also attended Kamehameha and just happened to hold the school record of 14 feet, 9 inches.
Then when high school came around, so too did the tougher competition and the determination to break his cousin’s record.
“It wasn’t that competitive (back in middle school), but then in high school, at the meets, it was always down to me and four other Punahou guys,” Swain said.
He liked the competition, though, and felt that it helped push him to get better, which of course, was Swain’s goal if he wanted to surpass his cousin in the school record books.
“I called him before the season started and told him I was going to break his record and he told me, ‘Then do it. Don’t just talk about it,’” Swain said.
But it wasn’t looking so good.
“I just plateaued a little bit. I was clearing 13 feet and that was it,” he said. “I was getting real irritated.”
It wasn’t until late in the season did Swain hit a surge. He cleared 14 feet, 6 inches for at the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships and won his first and final conference individual championship.
“I guess I peaked at the right time,” he said.
A week later, at the Island Movers/Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association State Track and Field meet, Swain had to improve his performance and clear higher heights if he was going to win, achieve his personal goal of breaking his cousin’s record and also the state record set at 15 feet, 3 inches, by Bubba McLean of St. Anthony School in 1997.
Swain and 12 other vaulters qualified to move on to the finals. Instead of starting at 12 feet, 9 inches, Swain held out and jump in at 13 feet, 9 inches. At that point, only six jumpers remained in the competition.
“When I came in at my opening height, I missed my first two attempts,” he said. “That really got me nervous. I knew that if I was going to win, it would come down to attempts, so for the rest of my attempts, I cleared them in one.”
Clearing the next two heights, the title would eventually come down to only two jumpers: Swain and Cameron Daugherty of host school Mililani High School.
Swain cleared it on his first, while Daugherty cleared it on his second. That moved the both of them further in the competition, raising the bar 6 inches to the record height, 15 feet, 3 inches.
Both came close to clearing the height, but to no avail, and because Swain cleared the last height in fewer attempts, Swain was awarded the gold medal.
“It felt good to win it,” he said.
That capped off a successful year for Swain, athletically. In the winter, Swain and the Warriors won the JN Automotive/HHSAA Division I State Soccer Championship title. It was Kamehameha’s second title in school history, having won its first in 2005.
“The soccer championship actually meant the most to me this year because it was as a team,” Swain said.
The pressure was on the veteran goalie Swain, especially during the state tournament with two of the games heading to penalty kicks. The unranked Warriors defeated the Menehune of Moanalua High School 1-0 in the first round, moved on to defeat third-ranked Kealakehe High School in the quarterfinal, then came the tougher matches.
Swain and his teammates faced one of their sister schools, No. 2 Kamehameha Schools Maui. Maui was up 1-0 in the 46th minute and it wasn’t until the 79th when Zane Dydasco tied it up. The two teams would duke it out to two overtimes until finally coming down to penalty kicks, with Kapalama prevailing 5 goals to 3, to finish at 2-0.
They went on to face No. 1 and ILH rival school ‘Iolani School in the championship game in the Main Stadium at the Waipi‘o Peninsula Park on O‘ahu. That game was also tied at one apiece by the end of regulation and by the second overtime. Kamehameha would come out on top, outscoring the Red Raiders 3-2 in PKs.
“This was actually our best chance of winning it this year and it felt really good because every game was really close,” Swain said.
Swain was named to the HHSAA All Tournament Team as the goalie.
Swain graduated last week and is back on Kaua‘i for a break.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet that I’m finished with high school,” he said.
He said he has plans to play in a couple tournaments with his O‘ahu club soccer team, the Holokahi Phoenix.
Although Swain received interest from Mainland schools to participate in their track and field programs, Swain will attend Brigham Young University at Hawai‘i and play soccer.
He may not have broken his cousin’s school record — he tied it at the state championship meet — Swain is happy with his two state gold medals.
Family: Parents Billy and Lorie Swain; brothers Keala and Ikaika, sister Kaytie
School: Kamehameha Schools Kapalama class of 2008
Sports: Track and field, soccer
Soccer: Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association First Team All-State goalie; JN Automotive/HHSAA Division I State Champions 2008, 2005
Track: Island Movers/HHSAA State Track and Field individual champion: Pole Vault; Interscholastic League of Honolulu individual champion: Pole Vault
College committed to: Brigham Young University Hawai‘i
• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or firstname.lastname@example.org