LIHUE — Madison Leanio became the third Kauai student to earn gold at the national Hershey’s Track and Field Games in Pennsylvania.
The freshman from Kauai High School, accompanied by his parents Derrick and Wendy Leanio, was congratulated by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on Leanio’s first place finish in the Standing Broad Jump for Boys 13-14.
Pat Viernes, the former Hershey’s coordinator for Kauai, said Leanio leaped 8 feet, 9.5 inches to earn the gold, exactly one inch farther than the runner-up, Alexander Mar of Winnipeg.
“Your long hours of practice, skills and commitment to track and field events has provided you with an opportunity to be the only individual to represent Kauai at the annual National Hershey Track and Field Games which included Region 2 teams from Hawaii, California, Arizona, Nevada, and four other regional teams,” Carvalho said. “You are an inspiration for Kauai’s youth in all areas of individual and team sports competition.”
During the competition, which took place on Aug. 3 in Harrisburg, Pa., Leanio was the sole Kauai representative, joining nine other youth from around the state in representing Hawaii.
Following the meet, Leanio said only Maui’s Nawai Kaupe was the only other Hawaii athlete to earn a gold medal, the Maui girl getting her honor in the Softball Throw for Girls 13-14 with a toss of 191 feet, 4 inches over her runner-up winner, Tatum Koenig of West Liberty, Iowa who came up with 162 feet, 6 inches.
Aaron Uyeda, the coordinator for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said Leanio qualified during the Kauai Hershey Track meet contested on May 18.
His results were compared against meets held around the state before being sent to be compared with results from California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
Participants with the best scores were selected for the National meet, receiving an all-expense paid trip to participate in the annual National meet sponsored by the Hershey family corporation.
Uyeda said Leanio, with his gold medal, joins Kathleen Cadiente and Jonathan Rellin, Leanio’s uncle, in earning gold medals at the Hershey’s
Derrick said Madison was thrilled because en route to earning the gold medal, the youngster broke Jonathan’s record. Other Hawaii athletes finishing strong included Kameron Quinn of Honolulu, who leaped 7 feet, half inch for ninth place in the Boys 11-12 Standing Long Jump, being edged out of eighth place by Zachary Nichols, who bested Quinn by half an inch. Jason Alani of St. George, Hawaii, finished ninth in the Boys 11-12 Softball Throw with a toss of 153 feet, 7 inches. James Crosby of Honolulu tripped the clock at 12.87 seconds for sixth in the Boys 13-14 100 Meter Dash, edging out Cameron Ward of Fountain Hill, Ariz., by .02 second. Brandi Campbell of Honolulu ended sixth in the Girls 9-10 200 Meter Dash with a run of 31.54.
The Hershey’s Track and Field Games are the largest youth sports program of its kind in North America with hundreds of thousands of children competing each year, states the Hershey’s website.
Everyone has an opportunity to be among the 480 athletes who qualify to compete at the North American Final.
Anyone interested in being a part of the Kauai Hershey meet can call Aaron Uyeda, the Kauai Hershey coordinator, at 822-0511.
• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.