As difficult as it is to win a single division in high school paddling, three schools have managed to win all three divisions in the same season.
John F. Kennedy High swept the Sottera (women’s varsity), Sottero (coed varsity), and Sotteru (men’s varsity) divisions in 2013 and again in 2021.
The Okkodo High Bulldogs swept all three divisions in 2014.
The Simon Sanchez High Sharks also accomplished the rare feat in 2016.
More common are teams that successfully defended a title or two the following year. But in the 18 years that paddling has been a high school sport, only one school — the Islanders — has successfully defended all three titles.
Coach JFK Afshin Amoui’s three varsity teams made it Saturday to Matapang Beach in the final round of the Guam Kayaking and Canoeing Federation/Interscholastic Athletic Association high school paddle season.
“I don’t think they realize what they achieved today. I always tell them to look forward to the next race and forget about the race they just finished,” he said. “We will have a meeting on Monday and I will share the importance of what they have achieved. I’m very proud of them.”
Last year, the Islanders built up such an insurmountable lead after the first four races that they only had to show up at the starting line and complete the last series of races. They would have won the series if they had finished last in all races.
Even though the Islanders held the lead in all divisions heading into Saturday, they couldn’t afford to finish in last place. Amoui did the math and said his team could have finished the day in third place across all divisions and still won the overall points race.
“But I knew they would do better than third place today,” he said.
The JFK Sottera team took a second-place finish in the first of three races and then escaped with the title with two first-place finishes in each of the 1,000-meter races to end the day with 29 out of a possible 30. points. They finished the season with 143 points, far ahead of runner-up Simon Sanchez High’s 131 points. Close behind the Sharks were the Notre Dame Royals with 127 points.
In the Sottero, the Islanders finished 2-2-3 for 25 of a possible 30 points. Even without a first-place finish, the mixed Islanders team amassed 141 points in the series, well ahead of the Royals’ 133 points. The Royals finished 1-1-4. Even if they had won the third and final race, they would have been short.
The Sotteru was the closest finish. The Islanders boys finished with two thirds and one second to earn 25 of a possible 30 points.
The Royals men’s team earned two second-place finishes and won the third set to collect 28 out of a possible 30 runs. In the end, it just wasn’t enough. JFK finished the 15-run series with 138 points, barely edging out the Royals, who had 135 points.
In third place, the Bulldogs with 129 points. They had the best overall performance of any men’s team, with two first-place finishes and a second-place finish to earn 29 out of a possible 30 points.
Amoui said his team overcame difficult obstacles. He was especially proud of KC Abordonado, who captained the Sottera and Sottero boats as first-year helmsman.
“My returning rider injured her knee and couldn’t compete this year, so very happy that KC stepped up,” he said.