Intensity picks up as season winds down

Newman, Kong provide exciting 3,000 finish at Victorino Ohana Invite

Ansel Newman of King Kekaulike High School passes Maui High’s Connor Kong to win the boys 3,000 meters at the Victorino Ohana Invitational on Friday night at Yamamoto Track & Field Facility. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — As the final meet before the Maui Interscholastic League championships, the Victorino Ohana Invitational track and field meet always carries importance for the individual athletes.

That crucial feeling was on display in the last individual event of the night at the eighth annual event Saturday at Satoki Yamamoto Track & Field Facility, the boys 3,000 meters.

A pair of freshmen battled it out for the entire race, with King Kekaulike High School’s Ansel Newman catching Maui High’s Connor Kong at the finish line. Both qualified for the state meet — Newman won in 9 minutes, 46.17 seconds and Kong crossed in 9:46.44.

“I used that last burst of energy just to get it,” Newman said just past the finish line. “It felt so good, this is my first win in the 3,000.”

The 5-foot-3 Kong had missed the state qualifying time of 9:46.74 by 0.15 seconds earlier this year.

Rey Cadiz

When the official times were announced Friday, Kong’s teammates mobbed him.

“It feels amazing — I missed it last time and now it feels, like, super good,” Kong said.

The battle that took place as the meet was winding down could be a preview of the next three years between the pair of youngsters.

“During the last lap, I was like, ‘I’m right behind him, I’m not going to let him win, I came here to compete,’ “ Newman said. “He’s very fast, he’s an amazing runner.”

The Seabury Hall girls and Baldwin boys stamped themselves as solid favorites for the MIL team titles next week.

Baldwin piled up 210 points to easily outdistance Maui High, which finished second among the boys with 75. The Seabury Hall girls had 156 points while Baldwin was second with 84.

The Bears’ Sela Panuve was named the outstanding girls field athlete after winning the triple jump at 35 feet, 0.5 inches, just half an inch in front of the Spartans’ Maile Dougherty. Panuve was also third in the long jump, at 16-1, 6.5 inches behind first place.

She also ran a leg on Baldwin’s winning 400 relay team.

“It was a tough battle between the girls,” Panuve said. “I didn’t jump at my full potential and for my long jump I didn’t have the best meet. I’m really surprised that I won this award.”

Seabury Hall’s Veronica Winham was the outstanding girls runner, winning the 800, 1,500 and 3,000, and anchoring the Spartans’ 1,600 relay team to victory.

The outstanding boys field athlete was the Bears’ Nathaniel Cramer, who won the high jump and triple jump titles.

The boys outstanding runner was Seabury Hall’s Isaiah Payne, who won the 100 and 200 sprints. He broke his own meet record of 10.92 seconds set last year with a 10.82 time on Saturday.

“The 100, I didn’t PR but I like the time,” Payne said. “The 200, not really, I could have gone faster. I feel like I’m ready for the championship meets coming up.”

Payne recently signed a track scholarship agreement with Seattle University.

“That takes a lot of stress off me,” he said. “Trust me, I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore.”

Baldwin’s Rey Cadiz, the defending state champion in the 110 hurdles, showed he is rounding into form after missing a month of training with an ankle injury. He won both the 110 and 300 hurdles titles on Saturday.

“I was hoping for more of a fast time in 110s, to break the (meet) record, but overall coming back from not really practicing, I’m happy with where I’m at right now,” Cadiz said after finishing the shorter race in 14.58 and the longer race in 39.67. “I’m hoping to bring back two states titles.”

* Robert Collias is at