Le Jardin's Kennedy breaks her high jump record at state meet

May 11—1/3

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Lautaimi Manuma of Campbell was the boys shot put winner.


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Le Jardin's Charli Kennedy watched a video of her record-breaking high jump


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Le Jardin's Charli Kennedy broke the Island Movers/HHSAA high jump record on Saturday.

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Even Mother Nature couldn't stop Charli Kennedy from breaking her state meet record in the high jump Friday at the Island Movers/HHSAA State Track and Field championships at Mililani High School.

Kennedy, a junior at Le Jardin, cleared 5 feet, 8 inches on her first try, besting the state mark she set last year of 5-6 — which broke the record held by by Kahuku's Natasha Kai, who went on to win Olympic gold for the U.S. in a different sport, soccer.

It is also the height the bar was at when everyone was forced to abandon John D. Kauinana Stadium and move to a safer part of campus because of lightning yesterday.

It didn't shake a rare state meet contender from another small school, Laupahoehoe's Tazein Sykes. He qualified for the final in the 400 (50.58).

"I think it actually helped relax me," he said.

The 45-minute break didn't bother Kennedy, either.

"We just walked up to the gym and talked," she said.

Kennedy, who will compete in the pole vault today, is still a track and field novice, and veteran Le Jardin coach Walter Thompson sees a future heptathlete with unlimited potential.

"She can throw the shot 33 feet," Thompson said. That distance would qualify her for today's finals in that event, where Kiara Sam Fong of Maui High is the top seed with a throw this season of 39-6.5, and she won the discus Friday with a toss of 136-5.

Kennedy said she has a twin sister; Sydney plays basketball at LeJardin, but Charli wants to get her out for track and field next year.

Kennedy has two coaches: Since Thompson's vast experience is mostly in running and hurdle events, he enlisted Moanalua jumps coach Chad Ditchen to tutor Kennedy.

"He helps our hurdlers and sprinters (in return)," Ditchen said of Thompson.

This kind of coach-sharing is common in track and field culture, but of course, in most cases, the state championships are more about competition than collaboration.

And a track meet wouldn't be a track meet without some controversy.

On this day it came after the rain, thunder and lightning of the afternoon, and during the boys 4×100 relay trials. The Kaiser and Campbell teams were disqualified for interfering with runners from other schools. That still left a problem of how to fix things for the teams that were interfered with and might have produced qualifying performances otherwise.

After several protests were filed and considered, meet officials announced that all results in the trials would be thrown out, and the top 24 teams minus the two that were DQ'ed would run the 4×100 again today, with the eight fastest times in one heat, and so on. The resulting order of times will stand as the final results (there will be no final race of eight teams).

"There's no perfect solution, but that is probably the fairest," Punahou boys head coach Todd Iacovelli said.

In one of the more anticipated events, Kalani's Yuta Cole did just enough in the 1,500 meters, qualifying eighth in 4:21.14, after becoming the first boy to break four minutes in the Oahu public school championships last week. Ari Smith of Campbell was the fastest qualifier, finishing in 4:17.9.

Iacovelli agreed that Punahou is among the schools likely to benefit from this year's addition of the 4×800 relay to the state meet.

"We traditionally are among the schools with depth in the distance events," he said.

The Buffanblu boys qualified first in the new state meet event by eight seconds, but it will need more to retake the state team championship that Saint Louis won last year for the first time since 2009. With sprinter Jahran Altura leading the way, the Crusaders edged the Buffanblu by three points for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship two weeks ago. Altura, however, finished 10th in qualifying heats for the 200 on Friday.

The Punahou girls have won the past four state championships, and had the early lead with 16 points. Lulu Uluave got eight of them for second in the discus behind Sam Fong, and Laulea Ah Mook Sang six more for third in the triple jump.

Mililani's girls and boys, first and second in the OIA championships last week, are also contenders for the championship. Campbell's boys won the OIA title last week; they and Radford's girls and boys (second and third) have a chance, too, if things go just right.

Finals in the field events start at 10 a.m. today, with the track event finals starting at 5 p.m.