KIF alumni receive Big West honors

The University of Hawaii announced Tuesday 54 of its student-athletes were given Big West Conference all-academic honors this year.

Of the 54 from UH that made the list of 421 total honorees, three come from Kauai.

Senior men’s tennis player Chas Okamoto, sophomore softball player Ulu Matagiese and sophomore men’s golfer Justin “Pono” Tokioka are the three Kauaians who received the accolade.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to be an all-academic honoree. I don’t even think about it. I am just doing my thing and keep working hard,” Tokioka said via text message Tuesday. “But it’s been an honor to be an all-academic honoree, and in the end hard work has paid off.”

Tokioka, who graduated from Kauai High School in 2013 and is studying business, also said improving his golf game, to be more consistent and to qualify for all of the tournaments is one of his goals as he looks forward to his junior year at Manoa.

Tokioka competed in seven tournaments this year and finished 45th at the Big West Championship. In addition, he was given Big West Commissioner’s honors, according to UH Athletics. Tokioka said he has a 3.12 cumulative GPA.

The Red Raiders alum added he thanks his friends and family for their support.

“I just want to grind it out and study hard. Get good grades,” he said. “I just need to work hard and focus on my priorities.”

Matagiese started 32 of 43 games in the outfield this year for the Rainbow Wahine and finished the season with a .267 batting average, according to UH Athletics. She was also named a UH Scholar-Athlete.

“It means a lot to me because not only does it show my hard work on the field, but it also shows my hard work with my academics,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Matagiese, who graduated from Waimea in 2013 and is a family resources major at UH, added her main goals next year is to get a 4.0 GPA and to improve her softball skills. She said she had a 3.8 GPA this past spring semester, but is unsure of her cumulative average.

Okamoto, who is a Kapaa High School alumnus, is also one of five UH players to be named to this year’s Big West all-conference men’s tennis team. He was an honorable mention as a junior, according to UH Athletics. He couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Student athletes must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, completed a full year at the institution prior to the season for which he or she receives the award and competed in at least 50 percent of the team’s contests to be eligible for the conference’s all-academic team.

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