LIHUE — Vonda Aki teamed with Willie Aki to win the Second Annual Vance Akiyama Memorial Tournament, Saturday at the Kauai Bowl Center in the Rice Shopping Center.
En route to the victory that will have the team’s names placed on the Vance Akiyama Memorial Trophy, Willie, more familiar as the girls basketball coach for Kapaa High School and the community leagues, rolled a tournament-high 277 for high point honors in the Men’s games.
The Aki victory also bumps last year’s defending champions, Curtis Matsumura and Linda Alfiler, to fourth place. The duo of Allen Suan and Sheldon Peralta filled in the runner up slot, with Hoku Ho and Kawika Wellingtonm ending in third place. K J Morikawa teamed with Lianne Tanaka to fill in the fifth slot in a field that included 84 teams, rolling in doubles format as a fundraiser for the Kauai Jr. Blazing Bowlers Bowling program.
“The amount of support from businesses, family and friends within our small bowling community is incredible,” said Todd Ozaki, the tournament’s organizer and a coach for the Blazing Bowlers.
“Putting on an event like this takes so much time and coordination. Every step along the way, the community helped us when, and wherever, they could. What started out as a simple idea to fundraise for our youth bowlers has turned into so much more. Through a sport that we love, we can bring people together, strengthen our sense of community, challenge and encourage our youth, and honor one of our dearest friends.”
Following Willie in high-pin in the Men’s games, Ted Luis Jr. finished with a 269, two pins better than Matsumura who ended with a 267. Scott Shiira of Oahu finished below Matsumura at 249.
Robyn Bryan-Ichimasa, traveling from Las Vegas during last year’s, and this year’s tournament, topped the Women games with a 236, three pins better than Collyne Murata who rolled a 233. Shelly Shiira of Oahu finished with a 226 and Christine Kato, also of Oahu, rolled a 215 for the Women’s leaderboard.
“Bryan-Ichimasa, the top female bowler for Kauai High School through 1999, made the trip all the way from Las Vegas,” Ozaki said. “This year, we also saw six bowlers coming from Oahu to participate in the tournament. We also had a large number of sponsors — we call them ‘heroes.’ This year, the heroes’ list grew to more than 50 compared with the two dozen from last year.”
Chris Thysen, a bowler in the doubles field, walked off with the tournament’s grand prize of a two-night stay at the Lawai Beach Resort, one of more than 30 raffle table prizes that was valued at more than $3,000.
Proceeds from the tournament help with sending Kauai Jr. Bowlers to the 2019 Junior Gold Bowling Championships that will be contested in Detroit, Michigan from July 13 through 20.
This year, the Kauai Jr. Bowlers will have eight bowlers earning eligibility into the championship tournament. Alvin Reis III will be competing in the Under 20 division for one last time as a Junior, Deiton Otoman will be joined by Jordan Karimi and Jozaiah Sarmiento in the Under 17 class.
Callum Meredith and Kyllie Sasaki will be bowling in the Under 15 division.
Girl bowlers from Kauai include Naomi Toki rolling in the Under 17 class, and Taylor Kusaka bowling in the Under 15 division.
The Kauai Junior Blazing Bowlers was established in 2016, and membership is offered to youth ages 6 through 20. Sanctioned by the United States Bowling Congress, the Kauai Junior Blazing Bowlers is the only youth bowling program on the island.
The program meets each Sunday and conducts practices in a league format, starting with a 45-minute entry-to-novice lesson, a 10-minute warmup, three games of competition, and wrap up with a 45-minute advanced lesson.