Union-Tribune Girls Athlete of the Year: Kapiolani Coleman

high school: Cathedral Catholic

Year: Junior

Sports: Track and Field/Volleyball

College: Uncommitted

Highlights: One of the major tests of a truly great athlete is the ability to rise to the occasion. That perfectly describes Coleman, a two-sport athlete who was at her best when it really mattered.

She made her mark early in the school year as a member of the San Diego Section Open Division championship volleyball team that finished 36-5, beating La Costa Canyon 3-0 and running its winning streak to 21 straight before dropping a 3-1 match against undefeated and national no. 1 Los Angeles Marymount in the Southern California Regional Championships.

Coleman was No. 2 on the team with 182 kills. She also had 20 blocks, 64 digs and 18 service aces.

The 5-foot-10 Coleman, however, was always looking forward to the track and field season, where she figured to be among the best in the section and state.

Sure enough, at the Arcadia Invitational she clocked a time of 42.19 in the 300-meter hurdles that would stand as both the section and state leader (18th nationally). She also sped to a 14.05 in the 100-meter hurdles, running against the only two girls in the state to dip under 14 seconds.

Toward the end of the season, fast-charging Karina Janik of Torrey Pines challenged Coleman in the 300 hurdles, edging Coleman in the section championships.

Champions rise to the occasion and after being part of a 1-2-3 section sweep in the 300 hurdles prelims, Coleman surged to the front in the championships and no one could challenge her as she clocked a 42.23 before climbing to the top of the victory stand to receive her gold medal.

Very quietly, she warmed up for the victory by placing third in the 100-meter hurdles, clocking a time of 14.14, just .02 out of second.

Helping her team score points, she also collected a personal best 18 feet, 4 inches in the long jump.

Quotable: “With 50 meters remaining I knew I could bring it home (for the 300-meter hurdle gold medal),” Coleman said. “Through everything I kept positive and, in the end, I achieved my goal. I wanted to win in a personal record but just winning against such a great field was rewarding.”

Quotable II: At the State Meet, Coleman said, “I’m really excited. I achieved my goal and while I wanted to win with a PR, winning a meet like this is really good. You keep it in perspective. I wouldn’t have felt good if I had finished second and the winner had a slower time than my PR. Winning is the best.”

The future: As a junior, she returns to help lead both the volleyball and track teams where she will set her sights on the section record (41.30) in the 300 hurdles.

Brand is a freelance writer.

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