Bears take team titles
KIHEI – Sheila Altura said it was harder than it may have looked. Jonah Hu said it took a full team effort.
Whatever the formula, it added up to 84 points and first place for both the boys and girls teams from Baldwin High School in the Maui Interscholastic League swimming and diving championships Saturday at Kihei Aquatic Center.
“We had to go really give our best, 110 percent, you know,” Altura said after winning the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly, and swimming on the victorious 200 and 400 free relays. “We can’t hold anything back, 110, maybe even 120 (percent). I think everyone did their best today even though it’s not their best time. They gave their hearts out, that was amazing.”
Seabury Hall was second in each division – the boys had 63 points, the girls 55.
“We have come together as a team,” said Hu, the league champion in the 100 and 200 freestyles and part of the first-place 200 medley relay team and runner-up 200 free relay squad. “We have dug deep and we’re pulling out some great swims.”
The event was the final high school meet on Maui for Renny Richmond, the Seabury Hall senior who wrapped up an unbeaten MIL individual career with titles in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley, as well as the 200 and 400 free relays.
The 200 relay team set an all-Maui record with a time of 1 minute, 28.17 seconds.
In a season during which Richmond said he was “a little off,” he still has a chance to finish with more state titles than any MIL male in any sport, and has a scholarship to the University of Arizona.
Richmond swam the first leg of the 200 relay in 21.15 – the winning time in the individual 50 free was 21.46. Zack Kresge, John Van Scoy and Ryan Koss finished the race, bettering the mark set by Baldwin in 1994 by 1.76 seconds.
“That was awesome, we are all seniors,” Richmond said. “We always wanted to go out strong and I think we did. We didn’t have the manpower to go for the title like Baldwin, but we showed up and we did what we wanted to do.”
The Bears also finished under the previous record Saturday, in 1:28.48.
Richmond said the national high school 100 fly record of 46.64 is in his thoughts after he was within a half-second last season, but he knows it will be tough after he recorded his first sub-50 time in the event this season at 49.46.
“I have been a little off this year,” he said. “This was probably the first time I have been close to my best times all year, so it is still on my mind, but we will see what happens. Two more seconds to my best time, three seconds to the record, so it is a lot of work. I have got a shot, I think.”
Richmond took three months off after the U.S. Olympic trials – “That was a big mistake,” he said – then missed significant workouts while taking official college visits and battled an illness around the time of last month’s state age-group meet.
“I have just been playing catch-up really all season,” he said. “It was good to see 49 in the fly. I think this season is more about me having fun and enjoying the end of my senior year.”
Baldwin was having its share of fun on Saturday.
The boys ended any doubt about the team competition with a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 breaststroke by Carter Suzuki, Troy Kojenlang and Rysen Otomo.
Hu, Suzuki and diver Jonathan You were the Baldwin boys’ individual winners.
“Jonah, Carter, Reece Murata, Troy Kojenlang, they all stepped up,” said Bears coach Laura Lipp. “They swam their best times and they were all excited for their races and knew that they could do it for the team.”
Altura was one of Baldwin’s two individual girls champions, along with freshman Maya Sinclair in the 100 free.
The only other double individual gold medalist was Lahainaluna’s Jesselee Chapman, in the girls 200 and 500 frees.
Altura beat defending state champion Danielle Jefferies by 0.07 seconds in the fly.
“Sheila Altura was the standout, winning the 100 fly was awesome,” Lipp said. “The relays were fabulous, our free-stylers really were up there, we had a lot of kids in the (individual medleys) step it up. Not everybody gets to swim exactly what they want, so everybody had a great attitude about swimming for the team.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org