While students are making their way to school today, Kaylin Kawamura will be making her way to the city of chocolates.
Kaylin, 9, is one of seven Hawai‘i student athletes who were announced as finalists for the 2008 Hershey Track and Field Games which will be held in Hershey, Pa., this weekend.
According to Pat Viernes, the Kaua‘i coordinator for the Hershey’s program, Kaylin will at least attend the first few hours of school to meet her new teacher and classmates before being excused to attend the national track and field competition in the Girls Softball Throw for the Girls 9-10 division.
Kaylin, finished the Hawai‘i Region competition with a toss of 103 feet, 7 inches in the Girls 9-10 division. According to Viernes, that toss bested the next closest throw by more than 3 feet.
The Elsie Wilcox Elementary School student had the best throw in six regions, her closest competitor being Madisen Yergersen of Utah who finished the regional competition at 100 feet, 3 inches.
But Kaylin leaves with mixed feelings as her twin sister, Kristin, was a Hawai‘i Region winner in the Girls 50 Meter, but was beat out of a Pennsylvania slot by a scant .08 second. Chyrese Patterson of Nevada region stopped the clock at 7.47 over Kristin’s 7.55 state run.
“It was the shoes,” said Kristin and Kaylin’s mother Kanani. “They run all the time without shoes, but for Hershey’s they needed to have shoes.”
Kanani said they had to scramble home for shoes for Kristin to compete, but all she had were heavy clunkers.
“This whole thing was last-minute,” Kanani added. “It’s a good thing we live right across the street because I remember calling to see if the girls could compete, and we registered on the field.”
Kanani will accompany Kaylin to as far as O‘ahu before coming back home.
“We really wanted to go, but again, it was all last-minute and the cheapest flight we could find was $1,500,” Kanani said. “This will be the first time the twins will be separated.”
But despite the separation, Kanani said this will be a good experience as the girls can look into the possibility of perhaps attending other events in the future.
Three members of the Cadiente family, Kevin, Kathleen and Kelsey, have been recent competitors at the national competition, Viernes said.
Kaylin’s trip to Pennsylvania started on May 3 when she competed at the Kaua‘i Hershey’s Track and Field Games at Vidinha Stadium. Since then, she has had to wait until the completion of the six other regional competitions before the state finalists were announced, Viernes said.
Hawai‘i competes against regions in Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Nevada and Utah.
“But we’ve been working out twice a week,” the Kaua‘i Hershey’s coordinator said. “Since her winning throw, she’s improved to about 122 feet with the wind, and against the wind, has thrown about 102 feet consistently.”
Viernes said he hopes Kaylin can maintain her distance, or get longer.
“My goal is to throw 110 feet,” Kaylin said modestly.
Kanani said the girls have been active in sports, but this is the first time any of them has achieved this kind of distinction.
Kaylin and Kristin have been active in soccer, baseball, basketball and even flag football, Kanani said.
“They even tried cheerleading, but said it was too girly-girl,” Kanani said. “They’re active girls.”
For the trip which will run until Sunday when Kaylin returns, Kanani said Kaylin will be rooming with a girl from Maui, Kalei Vaivai, who will be competing in the 13-14 division, also in the Girls Softball Throw.
Viernes said he made a special cap for Kaylin to wear while at the Hershey’s games. It features the Hershey’s 30th anniversary logo of the games and is personalized with her name and “Kaua‘i” embroidered on the backside.
“The athletes do a lot of trading of things when they’re up there,” Viernes said. “Just make sure you don’t lose the cap.”
Joining Kaylin in Pennsylvania, Wayne Taulapapa (O‘ahu) and Jordan Breitbarth (Big Island) will be in the 9-10 division, competing in the Standing Long Jump and Softball Throw, respectively.
Devan Stubblefield of O‘ahu is the sole athlete in the 11-12 division and will be competing in the 400 Meter run.
Vaivai will be joined by John Chiquita (Big Island) and Jeremy Tabuyo (O‘ahu) who will be competing in the Softball Throw and 200 Meter Dash, respectively, in the 13-14 division.