Not all rewards come in a shining color such as gold, silver or bronze — something Waiakea senior Skye Ombac knows by heart.
She competes in cross country and track, but has never won a Big Island Interscholastic Federation individual medal in either sport.
That doesn’t stop her from running or working hard, which carries into the classroom. She has a 3.76 grade-point average and wants to be a physical therapist.
Her reward is an athletic-and-academic scholarship to the University of Jamestown, an NAIA school in North Dakota.
“It’s a good feeling,” she said. “I always wanted to get a scholarship after my junior year. I had really good seasons, compared to my freshman and sophomore years. I filled out a profile on ncsasports.org and the site allows coaches who are interested to email me. I emailed coaches who emailed me. If I couldn’t get an athletic scholarship, I thought I could get an academic one.
“When the Jamestown coaches emailed me back, I thought, ‘I can do it.’ I’m proud of myself. I worked for it and no one else can run for me.”
She will always be part of a package: Her fraternal twin sister Katrina Ombac, also at Waiakea, is younger by a minute. Katrina landed an academic scholarship to Valley City State University, about 30 miles away from Jamestown.
Instead of running like her sister, Katrina followed the lead of their cousin Akemi King, a 2013 Waiakea graduate, who competed in swimming and water polo. King is on an academic-and-athletic scholarship at Western State Colorado University, a Division II school.
At the Colorado College Invite recently, the Mountaineers received valuable points from King and finished fourth. King was second in the 400-yard individual medley and third in the 200 freestyle.
In the season opener in October at Adams State, King captured the 200 butterfly in 2 minutes and 17.49 seconds, setting a school record. A week later at another meet, King reset the record in 2:15.87.
Katrina, who has a 3.8 GPA and will major in education, won’t compete in sports like her sister. When she takes a bus ride to visit Skye, Skye will probably be busy for the Jimmies. The cross country season runs from August to November, and track goes from January to May.
“We’re different in just about everything,” Skye said. “We have different personalities. Katrina is a little more outgoing. We have a bunch of best friends, but we hang out with each other every day at school. We go out together and are really close.”
The best part is both sisters serve as an emotional cushion for the other. In good and bad times, Skye and Katrina know that a hug from a loved one is soothing.
“After a cross country meet or a swimming meet, if one does good the other is there to hug each other,” Skye said. “If I have a bad meet and I’m upset, she’s the first one to hug me.”
Katrina responded on the same wavelength.
“If I have a bad swimming meet, she’s right there, telling me, ‘You did your best. You tried your hardest.’ It’s the same thing,” Katrina said. “Both ways, we’re very comforting for each other.”