LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard instructor Eugene Ancheta’s phone call Saturday afternoon said it all.
“We made it,” Ancheta said in the brief phone call. “Kaua‘i got number eight.”
The Kaua‘i contingent of Junior Lifeguards, 31 strong with three instructors, successfully defended its state championship on Saturday at Hapuna Beach on the Big Island. They returned to Kaua‘i that night with their eighth consecutive title.
Kaua‘i piled up 149 points to the Big Island’s 104 points. Maui finished with 75 points and O‘ahu went home with 48 points in team results provided by Phyllis Kanekuni of the Big Island.
“We were strong in three events: Beach Flags, the 1,000 Meter Run and Paddleboards,” said Mason Vegas, a Kaua‘i High School athlete and one of the Kaua‘i participants. “You could tell the Big Island wanted it. They dominated three events, but in the end, we got it.”
Top Junior Lifeguards from the Big Island, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i competed in two age groups, 13-14 and 15-17, in six events which have their core in basic lifeguard skills of ocean safety and physical fitness. The field totaled 175 athletes.
“The competition was pretty good,” said Haley Chastain, a first-year Junior Lifeguard from the Kalapaki class. “You got to meet and talk with a lot of new people. I’m definitely taking the program again.”
Chastain finished with two first finishes and two third finishes, adding 20 points to the Kaua‘i collection, said her dad, Scott, who accompanied the group on the one-day trip to the Big Island.
“The hospitality was pretty phenomenal,” Scott said. “The Hapuna Beach hotel put up our 31 kids and provided lunch and took care of them.”
Haley finished first in the Girls 13-14 age group 1,000 Meter Run and was part of the Girls 13-14 Paddle Board Relay which also took top honors. Her third finishes, key to putting Kaua‘i up over Big Island after both island squads finished tops in three of the six events, included third in the Girls 13-14 100 Meter Run-Swim-Run where Kaua‘i’s Kate Machorek, coming off a strong Swim Kaua‘i Aquatics showing in the state Long Course Championships, took top honors, separated by Madeline Foo of the Big Island and Haley.
Machorek continued her mastery of the water, taking top honors in the Girls 13-14 200 Meter Swim, Haley finished third below Foo.
Kaua‘i teams took the Girls 13-14, Girls 15-17 and Boys 15-17 Paddle Board Relay, relinquishing the Boys 13-14 to the Big Island where the Kaua‘i team finished third below O‘ahu.
“Next year, the state event moves to O‘ahu, and after not having the state title for so long, they’re going to be hungry,” Vegas said. “It’s not going to be easy.”
Following Haley’s first finish in the Girls 13-14 1,000 Meter Run, Danielle Fletcher (O‘ahu), Ember Hirsch (Maui), Foo (Big Island) Mailani Neal (Big Island) and Coral Vernon of Kaua‘i rounded out the leaders.
Ka‘eo Kruse and Noah Lamadrid, the two Kaua‘i entrants in the Boys 13-14 age group 1,000 Meter Run, finished third and fifth, the event going to Peter Takahashi of O‘ahu and Austin MacArthur of Maui.
Tambrina Fairbanks, another strong SKA swimmer, was joined by Shania Weiss, Savannah Roselli and Lianna Patey in filling in second, third, fifth and sixth places, respectively in the Girls 15-17 1,000 Meter Run which was taken by Alyssa Foo of the Big Island.
Pierce Murphy, the Island School running phenom, Bryson Phillips and Vegas led the Boys 15-17 1,000 Meter Run with first, second and fourth finishes, respectively, Sky Hirsch and JR Rios, both of Maui, filling in third and fifth places, respectively.
Wailana Gondeza, Maliana Kaui and Ming Hsu filled in the top three spots of the Girls 13-14 Beach Flags event, Lamadrid topping the Boys 13-14 group with Hikari Oberman aiding the effort on a fifth finish.
Kaua‘i could not secure top spots in the older divisions, Jasmine Morris, Roselli and Tabitha Kauakahi settling in second, third and sixth places, respectively, in the Girls 15-17 division.
Kawai Barrett, Vegas, Michael Gabriel led Kaua‘i in the Boys 15-17 division with second, third and fourth places, respectively.
Bryson Baligad filled in the fifth berth of the Boys 13-14 Run-Swim-Run event after the strong showing of the Girls 13-14 group.
Sophie Britzmann and Fairbanks filled in the third and fifth spots of the Girls 15-17 division with Kaikea Elias and Makaha Weiss getting second and sixth places, respectively in the Boys 15-17 division.
But the Boys 13-14 group rebounded in the 200 Meter Swim when Kamu Ferris, Kruse and Baligad finished second, third and fifth, respectively in that event, Britzmann being the sole Kaua‘i swimmer placing in the Girls 15-17 division at third.
A fifth finish for Elias in the Boys 15-17 division rounded out the Kaua‘i showing.
Ancheta said the Kaua‘i group did well on the Big Island. Randy Ortiz, another instructor, noted that the flat beach and packed sand created better conditions for the competition.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.