Pearl City To Defend Boys State Bowling Title This Week

In anticipation of this week’s state championships on Kauai, the Pearl City boys bowling team has spent every practice over the last two weeks ending with intense intra-squad scrimmages as head coach Jimmy Hayashi sought to finalize his six-man lineup.

“It’s all about how you prepare – physically and mentally, mind and body,” said Hayashi. “We want the end of practice to be like a real match and for them to have the experience of competition. That way it (states) is like (just) another tournament.”

Intra-squad competition is understandably intense, given the success of the school’s bowling program through the years. The Charger boys have won four straight OIA titles, including this year, and also are the defending state champion, having brought home the title last November.

As they look to repeat as state champs, their itinerary leaves no stone unturned, including a mandated lights out at 8 tonight (Oct. 31) at their Kauai hotel. “They’re so pumped up the night before that we need them to get their rest,” said Hayashi, who also led Pearl City to state titles in 2008 and 2010.

Pearl City captured its OIA title Oct. 18 with a total pin count of 5,846 to defeat second-place Kalani (5,571). The Chargers featured a pair of top five finishers in both junior Nicholas Azumi (223 average) and senior Sheldon Naauao (220 average), who finished second and fourth overall, respectively.

“Nicholas averaged 234 through 15 games this year. He practices a lot and bowled a lot in competitions, and that’s improved the quality of his bowling. Sheldon shows a lot of leadership. He doesn’t want to lose – he’s a winner all the way.”

Team depth also was evident at the OIA finals as it got impressive showings from Ryan Kajihiro (192; 12th), Aaron Rafael (189; 16th), Ken Hayase-Fong (185; 20th), Keenan Kihara (183; 23rd), Blaise Morishige (178; 30th) and Shawn Nakanishi (176; 33rd).

“We work as a team,” said Hayashi, assessing his entire group. “Ryan is always focused and corrects his mistakes. Aaron is always calm, and he tries hard. Ken is a very steady bowler – he doesn’t get rattled. Keenan has a lot of potential. Blaise has shown a lot of improvement from last year to this year. Shawn is a very inspirational guy. He’s always happy and shows good leadership.”

Hayashi hadn’t settled on who will take up Pearl City’s six slots. “We’ll see how they bowl in practice and on those lanes,” he said, noting that the Chargers will practice in Lihue as soon as they arrive today.

Hayashi also will renew a friendly rivalry with older brother Greg, who’s the coach at Hawaii Baptist Academy. “He has four (state titles). I have to catch him,” laughed Hayashi.