KAANAPALI — It was an emotional day for Raya Nakao.
The Punahou School junior cried tears of happiness throughout Saturday’s final round of the David S. Ishii Foundation/HHSAA girls golf state championship as she finished with a state tournament-record total of 9-under-par 131 at the Kaanapali Kai Course to win the individual title by nine strokes and lead the Buffanblu to the team title.
Nakao fired a 3-under 67 on Friday for a two-shot lead after the first round, then ran away with the gold with a 6-under 64 Saturday.
The previous state record was held by Punahou’s Stephanie Kono, who shot 8 under in 2006 at Turtle Bay’s Fazio Course.
“It means the world to me right, I’ve already cried on multiple occasions,” said Nakao, the ILH champion, after the awards ceremony. “I am so proud of everyone. This season wouldn’t have been the same if one of them was missing. … I’m just so happy we were able to end the season this way. It’s just been so great and I really hope next season is just as great.”
Kalani junior Kara Kaneshiro earned a silver medal after she shot 69 Saturday to finish at 140, while Kamehameha Kapalama sophomore Kirsten Hall improved from her first-round 75 with a 68 to jump up into third place at 143.
Saturday marked the end of the first state golf tournament held since 2019 — the past two seasons were wiped out by the pandemic.
“I was just talking with Kara — we have known each other for so long — and we’re just so happy to see each other up here and it feels so good to have our first states,” Nakao said.
Saturday’s muggy conditions in Kaanapali consisted of overcast skies and no breeze, and the course itself gave Nakao the feeling that “I could go low.”
“There are places where you can get into trouble, but as long as you play safe and aim for safe spots, then even if you miss a little bit, you’re still safe,” she said. “My short game is really what saved me, too, so thanks to my short game, I had no bogeys for two days.”
It was anyone’s game after Friday’s results came in. Nakao led Mid-Pacific’s Eunice Han by two strokes and there was also a three-way tie for third between Kaneshiro, Waiakea’s Kiersten Saludares, and Leilehua’s Leia Chung — the defending state champion — after they all shot 71s.
Though the race for the crown was close, Nakao said that she just focused on what she could control.
“I just stayed within myself and played my own game and hope everything works out,” she said.
In the team chase, Punahou came from behind to win the title with a combined score of 431 (220-211). Kalani finished second with 434 (216-218), and Mililani and Baldwin tied for third place at 455.
The Bears were led by sophomore Ariya Soldwisch, who was the Maui Interscholastic League’s highest state finisher at 13th place, earning a medal among the top 15 recognized individuals.
“It feels pretty good. Yesterday could have been better but I feel like bouncing back today really put me in a good spot,” said Soldwisch, who shot 78 Friday before rebounding for a 70 on Saturday for a total of 148.
Soldwisch, who became the MIL girls individual champion on the same course last weekend, said she enjoyed being able to compete at home for the state tournament.
“I’m thankful that my parents could watch me and that we are able to play this course frequently compared to everyone else,” she said. “I feel like it was a really good year, very successful, we got closer as a team and became very good friends, so I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
One stroke back, Bears senior Payten Shimizu finished at 149 (74-75) while freshman Anessa Riglos was at 158 (81-77).
“It was really exciting. I wasn’t really keeping track of the team score until after,” Shimizu said. “It was really exciting because my freshman year, we didn’t do so hot, I didn’t do so hot, but we came back this year — and the last two years got taken from us, which kind of sucked — so it it was really nice to be back out.”
Up next, Shimizu will attend Portland State University and plans to play on the school’s golf team, something that she’s always looked forward to since first starting the sport.
“My older sister played collegiately so I kind of wanted to follow in her footsteps because she’s the one who got me into golf, too, so it was really nice that I was able to get a spot,” she said. “It was very bittersweet because I had so much fun this weekend, but it was just so sad to leave everyone.”
* Dakota Grossman is at email@example.com.
David S. Ishii Foundation/HHSAA Girls Golf State Championship
Saturday’s Final Round
At Kaanapali Kai Course
Hawaii Prep 288-278–566
Raya Nakao, Punahou 67-64-131
Kara Kaneshiro, Kalani 71-69–140
Kirsten Hall, KS Kapalama 75-68-143
Eunice Han, Mid-Pacific 69-74–143
Leia Chung, Leilehua 71-72–143
Kate Nakaoka, Mililani 73-72–145
Jasmine Wong, Iolani 76-69–145
Ava Cepeda, Kahuku 73-73–146
Mia Cepeda, Kahuku 74-72–146
Esther Jung, La Pietra 76-71–147
Kailee McKee, Kalani 72-75–147
Teal Matsueda, Kalani 73-74–147
Ariya Soldwisch, Baldwin 78-70–148
Mia Hirashima, Moanalua 73-75–148
Kiersten Saludares, Waiakea 71-77–148
Jolie Chee, La Pietra 72-76–148
Chloe Jang, Roosevelt 73-76–149
Payten Shimizu, Baldwin 74-75–149
Elle Otani, Waiakea 72-77–149
Maddy Takai, Punahou 79-71–150
Ashley Koga, Moanalua 79-72–151
Ferrari Dudoit, Mililani 78-74–152
Kelsie Inouye, Punahou 75-77-152
Nicole Ikeda, Punahou 78-76–154
Katrina Huang, Iolani 80-75–155
Moana Nakayama, McKinley 75-81–156
Jade Mauga, Hawaii Baptist 82-74–156
Nicole Tanoue, Iolani 80-77–157
Anessa Riglos, Baldwin 81-77–158
Mariko Yonemura, Mililani 77-81–158
Watch Kubo, Punahou 83-79–162
Madison Kuratani, Punahou 86-77-163
Ye Won Ham, Punahou 84-80-164
Rachael Wang, Kalani 84-82–166
Trinity Ledgerwood, Kaiser 85-82–167
Isabella Rodriguez, Hawaii Prep 85-85–170
Jacelyn Yun, Maui High 82-89–171
Nanami Yokoyama, Kaiser 88-84–172
Shai Ann Baraoidan, Baldwin 86-86–172
Jovi Funakoshi, Mililani 87-89–176
Lynea Park, Campbell 89-87–176
Kieran Florino, Mililani 88-89–177
Nikki Tabios, Pearl City 88-90-178
Anica Ancheta, Baldwin 97-84–181
Brynn Yonemori, Mililani 90-92–182
Kulia Maldonado, Waialua 94-88-182
Kalia Kaneta, Maui High 92-95–187
Kylee Dee, King Kekaulike 97-92–189
Carissa Koki, Moanalua 95-95–190
Abby Kiyosaki, Roosevelt 92-98–190
Ella Forrest, Hawaii Prep 97-97–194
Mika Holi, Thread 101-93–194
Courtney Hamasaki, KS Maui 100-95–195
Adrianna Volpe, KS Hawaii 98-99–197
Ema-Lani Ebesu, Island 99-101–200
Selina Yoo, Hawaii Prep 106-96–202
Samantha Murphy, Kauai 111-92-203
Leilani Redondo, Kauai 101-103–204
Alyssa Ching, Baldwin 105-103–208
Leiah Kang, Waiakea 105-105–210
Amalia Abigania, Kauai 101-111–212
Prisilla Matthews, Kauai 111-104–215
Christina Jung, Thread 132-114–246
Kiara Kimata, Waiakea 138-109–247