WAILUKU - The 2012 Maui Interscholastic League track and field season offered several firsts, most notably the initial state team title for the Baldwin High School boys with King Kekaulike bringing home the runner-up trophy.
One thing, however, remained the same as it had been the previous two years - Baldwin's Kristine Felix won the state girls pole vault.
Felix is the co-MIL Girls Track Athlete of the Year, sharing the award with double state champion Dakota Grossman of Seabury Hall.
Baldwin High School’s Pasoni Tasini won a state championship in the discus and finished second in the shot put.
SHAWN PILA photo
Baldwin's Pasoni Tasini, who won the discus state title and finished second in the shot put, is the boys recipient.
"It feels good, I went through a lot of things last year and this year," said Felix, who will be at Washington State University in the fall on a track scholarship. "I couldn't have won (if) Maui High didn't lend me that pole. So, I kind of wanted to thank them."
The 5-foot Felix had simply outgrown her 13-foot-6 pole and was able to garner a 14-0 pole from the Sabers midway through the season. It made a difference.
"Without it, I know I wouldn't have won, for sure," she said. "It is the biggest pole I have ever used and that is a big step for me."
Felix, who began competing in pole vault as a freshman, didn't raise the state record she had previously broken twice - her 12-foot-6 clearance in 2011 is 14 inches higher than the record she first bettered in 2010 - but her 12-0 leap was good enough for another gold.
In her MIL career, Felix raised the league bar 20 inches from the previous record, overcoming a broken leg that kept her off the track for three months last year, and the pressure applied by teammate Amber Kozaki for the last couple of seasons.
In 2012, Felix threw in three other league gold medals to help the Bears recapture the team title a season after Seabury Hall snapped their string of 11 straight.
Felix and Grossman, the league and state champ in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters, are joined on the girls All-Star team by the MIL's other champions: Seabury Hall's Dylan Ross (400), Kiana Smith (800) and Roxane Gaedeke (300 hurdles), Baldwin's Pelemarie Buika (triple jump), Rae-ana Anguay (100 hurdles) and Alesha Martin (shot put), Ka-mehameha Maui's Raven Poepoe (high jump) and King Kekaulike's Teianna Collins-Shirota (discus).
The boys team also includes Baldwin's Tyler Feiteira (300 hurdles and pole vault), Keelan Ewaliko (200 and long jump) and Vetekina Malafu (110 hurdles), King Kekaulike's Keegan Gregg (800), Luke Brown (triple jump), Jansen Agapay (high jump), Jake Jacobs (400) and Michael Teves (the state pole vault champion), Maui High's Nicola Perez-Garreaud (1,500 and 3,000) and Totauhelotu Lotulelei (shot put) and Seabury Hall's Jay Braun (100).
In the MIL meet, Felix won the pole vault at 11-3, the 100 in 12.51 seconds, the 200 in 26.51 and the long jump at 17-4 3/4, and was on the winning 400 relay team.
"It was definitely different," Felix said. "I enjoyed it because I got to help out the team a lot this year. Last year, I couldn't do anything because my leg was broken, so all I did was pole vault."
Kozaki, a Baldwin junior, finished third in the state in the pole vault, and beat Felix on several occasions this season.
"We make each other a lot better and we are also great friends," Felix said of Kozaki. "Even though we have our ups and downs in practices, we always laugh together, we always make jokes together, and we keep each other positive. We push each other a lot."
Grossman now has five state titles - she also won the 3,000 last year, and is a two-time cross country champion.
Her track training this year did not begin until her basketball team returned from the state tournament.
"I started out kind of late training and stuff, so as state came on I was ranked fifth going in," Grossman said. "I was kind of worried and the competition I knew was going to be fast. I didn't know I was going to win."
Tasini was poised for a state throwing double until defending champion Shane Brostek passed him on the final shot put attempt. Tasini, a University of Utah football recruit and part of 11 MIL title teams, earned his first state team crown at the track and field championship.
"When we went into this track season we knew we had a chance," he said. "When we went to the first couple meets and saw our numbers compared to the rest of the state, we knew we had a pretty good chance. It was special to finally win one."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org