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Kahuku’s Santiago primed for state meet onslaught

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Kahuku’s Zhane Santiago is considering competing in six events at the state track and field championships beginning Friday. And she could win all of them.
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There’s no obstacle too far, no hurdle too high.

Zhane Santiago goes beyond distance, though, in more ways than one. Forget the five days of classes and homework and tests and essays week after week. Flip through the daily calendar to Saturdays, and it has been nonstop since the start of winter.

The two-sport senior led Kahuku in scoring on the pitch with 11 goals, working on her hurdling form during her down time with her dad, Louis, and uncle, David Maeva. Once her soccer season ended, track and field followed with a meet most every Saturday, and when there was time, she got her kicks in with Leahi Soccer Club.

That’s what the future University of Hawaii player does for fun and challenge. But on this day, under a blazing sun in Kahuku, the pace has slowed. It’s a rare weekend off from track — almost. With the state track and field championships around the corner, she rests.

But a look at the menu ahead when she lands on Maui with her teammates can be daunting. Santiago normally competes in four to five events. Come this weekend, it could be six.

It’s a matter of debate for her parents, Louis — Kahuku’s girls track and field coach — and Anue. The couple agree to disagree about it. Zhane (pronounced jah-NAY) wants to please them both, but there’s no way to know until Friday, when she takes aim with the long jump and triple jump, whether those legs will be at full force.

The issue is simple: Her top times of a year ago, when she won five events at the Oahu Interscholastic Association championships, haven’t been breached this season. She’s come close in her best events, the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump, but at a time when she could be peaking, Santiago has hit neutral.

In 2010, she won the 100 hurdles in 14.61 seconds; her best time this year is 14.84.

She won last year’s state title in the triple jump at 37-01.5. This spring, her best distance is 36-10.

"I’m going down. I’m worried, but I’m trying to work hard to do better at states," she said.

There are some interesting quirks, too. She likes the long jump more than the triple and actually posted a 17-03.25, her personal record, at this year’s OIA championships on April 23. She also won OIA titles that day in the 100 hurdles (14.96), 300 hurdles (season-best 47.50) and triple jump (36-03).

"For the long jump, I’m working on technique, getting the concept of hitting the board and getting up instead of just straight forward," Santiago said. "It’s pretty fun. That’s why I like doing it more than the triple jump."

Her older sister, Tajana, was a hurdler and jumper. Zhane remembers watching Tajana compete on Maui, dealing with erratic wind conditions.

"It’s like that at Kaiser, so we wait for the wind to stop. There’s a 1-minute time limit," she said.

The 300 hurdles, of course, can be painful.

"I don’t like it. It’s not bad jumping over. It’s just the distance is super long. You’re burning on the last hurdle," said Santiago, who has a love-hate relationship with the event. "I’ve been doing it for three years and I want to continue to do it. Top three would be good (at states)."

Kahuku’s OIA championship this season depended significantly on Santiago’s performance: two firsts and a second.

Maybe.

"I’m going to try and pop all my jumps on Friday, and not worry about it on Saturday," she said, noting that jump distances at the trials carry over.

Her father just hopes she doesn’t have any regrets over her final state meet.

"It all depends on her that day," he said. "Things change when you get to the trials and finals. The past three years, something was always wrong with her, so we cut it down to five, four or three (events)."

Anue’s view?

"I’m telling him no, put her in the events that she’s doing well in, four at the most. We’re hoping she can do well in the trials with her jumps so she can get more rest," she said.

This week, a daughter runs for her father one last time.

"He’s always helped me when I need it. I love having my dad here," she said. "I’m grateful to have my mom and dad every step of the way. I’ve gotten to share a lot of my memories with them."

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