KEAAU — Talk about friendly fire.
Waiakea’s Lindsey Kimura had just finished up a grueling day of shooting when she saw cause for concern. Unaware of anyone’s score, Kimura looked to her left and noticed that teammate Karise Kuroda was running out of time.
“She was going down to the very last second and I was freaking out,” Kimura said. “I was so worried (for her). I was holding my breath for her to finish.”
Kimura can exhale now. Her friend made it, and little did she know it at the time, but Kimura has just wrapped up the Big Island Interscholastic Federation air riflery championship.
The two juniors were inseparable Saturday at Koai‘a Gym from start to finish. They hung out before the finals started, they competed side by side and encouraged each other through the double portions of three shooting events, then they fittingly finished 1-2 atop the leaderboard.
Kimura shot seven bull’s-eyes in the final event (kneeling) to overtake Kuroda 519-513.
“We talk to each other through the whole thing,” Kimura said. “I was actually really nervous. Really, really, really nervous. We were trying to calm each other down. I thought we had the same score.”
Nobody was in striking distance of Waiakea’s Justin-Joe Gray. The junior continued the boys team’s strong legacy by distancing himself from the field.
Lindsey Kimura, meanwhile, extended a family legacy. Her older sister, Megan Kimura, a 2012 Waiakea graduate, was the two-time defending champion.
Kimura set the tone for her season with a personal best at Kamehameha to start the year. Competitor’s scores dropped a bit Saturday in muggy conditions, but Kimura, the top seed, was again the most consistent.
“I feel like I do well at Kamehameha for some reason,” she said. “I don’t know why.”
That could bode well for her at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships, which will be held Tuesday at Koai‘a Gym.
Waiakea’s Crystal Rances (505) was third, while Hilo’s Caryn Okamoto (505) kept the Warriors from sweeping the top four spots. Rances won a tiebreaker because she made more bull’s-eyes (8-5).
Waiakea’s Kellie Iwasaki (502), who will defend her state championship on Tuesday, was fifth.
“It’s up to us represent the Big Island,” Kimura said. “It’s not so much about winning (individually), it’s about getting the team scores. It’s a team effort when it comes to states.
Kuroda led after each of the first two events (prone, standing), but she finished BIIF runner-up for the second consecutive year. She lost on the final shot last year. This time, she got off to a bad start during kneeling.
“My first paper was junk, the second one I picked it up and did way better. I don’t think the time (had an effect).
“I didn’t screw up like last year. It’s OK.”
Waiakea churns out quality shooters like few schools in the state, but perhaps no participant has improved more than Gray.
While most shooters failed to reach their average Saturday, Gray surpassed his with a 534.
“He was cool under pressure,” Waiakea coach Terence Moniz said.
In doing so, Gray filled a void for a Warriors squad that graduated all four of its shooters last season.
“I grew up. I felt calm and focused and followed our coaches,” he said. “The boys on the line were cheering each other on. It was a team effort.
“I had a couple of bad shots, but others made up for them.”
Waiakea’s Abraham Sylvester (514) and Tyler Aburamen (506) took second and third, while Konawaena’s Josiah Lerback (503) and Kealakehe’s Matt Silva (501) rounded out the top five.