Kauai High’s Teagan Keep is state champ

LIHUE — The Kauai Interscholastic Federation track and field contingent was met by a small crowd of supporters at Lihue Airport Sunday — primarily for Teagan Keep, the gold medalist in girls discus.

“This was nice to see Teagan’s friends show up to greet her,” said Teagan’s father Dale Keep, who did not travel to the Big Island for the Island Movers Hawaii High School Athletic Association track and field championships. “She didn’t want us there because she said it would make her nervous.”

Teagan Keep was the sole representative from the KIF to earn a gold medal, and one of a handful to make the finals in the state meet contested at Keaau High School on the Big Island.

“It was very hot,” said Jamilee Jimenez, the Kauai High School coach. “Teagan had a rough time in the preliminaries, throwing at 106 feet, 111 feet — definitely not her normal throws. But she made the finals at the No. 8 spot.”

The finals were held Saturday, the first heat starting at 2:15 p.m. followed by an hour’s rest before the finals.

“Everything was done in one day,” Jimenez said. “Her first throw went 128 feet, 2 inches, and she went from No. 8 to No. 2.”

Keep said her first three throws were not very good.

“I was very nervous. My hands were sweaty. The disc kept slipping. I don’t know if that was from the heat, or being nervous, or both,” she said.

“Once I found out I was in the finals, I relaxed and my first throw got me to second place. The first place throw was 132-08 by Brittany Kamau of Farrington High School. At that point, I told myself I had nothing to lose and threw 135-07. When I heard the call, I freaked out because I couldn’t believe it.”

Jimenez said she was called to a coaches’ meeting during the finals, and was freaking out because coach Makena Lopez-Estacio didn’t video the event.

“The fifth throw was the best she’s done all season,” Jimenez said. “She connected everything — body alignment, spin — everything just connected. Coach Makena said she was very focused — more than she’s been all season, but relaxed. She had calmed down from the preliminaries. This was Teagan’s turn.”

The gold medalist said she doesn’t throw well when she’s nervous.

“At the KIF championships, I wanted to break the record, which is 124 feet and I don’t know how many inches,” she said. “But I was nervous, and couldn’t do it. I always don’t throw well when I get nervous. I was trying to stay calm, and having the time between the preliminaries and the finals was good.”

Kilikai Ahuna, a senior at Island School, finished with a silver medal in the boys 300-meter hurdles.

“I was unlucky,” Ahuna said. “I was leading all the way to the last hurdle when I fell.”

But a quick recovery, and the lead, allowed him to finish second on a 40.50 run after relinquishing the lead to Carver Locke of Lahainaluna (39.89).

“I also hurt myself during the boys triple jump Friday,” Ahuna said.

Jimenez said falls were costly to the KIF athletes. Kapaa junior Brianna Binder was strong in the preliminaries until a fall at the final hurdle caused her to come in at 20.36, nearly four seconds off her seeded 16.54 time.

Kauai High School sophomore Kane Casillas bettered his seeded time in the boys 1,500-meter run, moving into the finals following a 4:19.08 run Friday. He improved on the preliminary run to finish at 4:16.47, dropping to No. 6 by just a tenth of a second in the finals.

“There was tough competition,” Casillas said. “We just need to keep working.”

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