By Brian McInnis
Christian Standhardinger was the favorite to repeat as "King of the Beach" champion today, for good reason.
He's got a ridiculous motor. He's insanely competitive. And he's a little sneaky.
Well, that all came into play in the Hawaii senior forward's narrow victory over the field in Saturday morning's UH basketball preseason fitness competition at Queens Beach in Waikiki. Standhardinger edged senior center Davis Rozitis by a point, and redshirt freshman Dyrbe Enos, holding it down for the local boys, was right behind the 7-foot Latvian.
"It was a lot tougher, but I'm glad it worked out that way," Standhardinger said.
Standhardinger became the first repeat winner of Gib Arnold's chaotic competition on the sand, which features more than a dozen events ranging from a long jump to sprints to teamwork with weighted balls. Bill Amis and Hauns Brereton were the first two winners.
"It was fun to see the guys get after it," Arnold said. "It's a lot of fun and the seniors did really well. Sometimes you gotta get a little sneaky and those guys know how to win those things.
I thought (Christian) was kind of the guy everybody expected, but we knew he'd be challenged," Arnold said. "Davis was a little bit of a surprise, getting up there, but again, being a senior he kind of knew how to manipulate some of the events. That's a nice way to put it."
Full practices begin on Monday. All players were present except for Negus Webster-Chan — he was back home in Toronto for an aunt's funeral, condolences to him — and all players were relatively healthy.
It was a good sign to see Isaac Fotu participating in just about everything. He was sidelined with a meniscus tear in his knee from College Summer League play for a couple months. Brandon Jawato (foot) was a full participant as well.
"I'm feeling really good now," Fotu said. "I definitely left enough time to heal and am getting treatment two times a day. I'm definitely ready for the season to start."
The overall competitiveness showed Saturday. Rozitis got his shirt torn during one of the more competitive events. He wasn't the only one.
"We competed. It's been a great day here at Waikiki Beach. I think that's all we wanted. It's been an end to a great preseason," Rozitis said.
Quincy Smith, a sophomore point guard out of the City College of San Francisco, had the most impressive overall effort among the team's seven newcomers. Guard Garrett Nevels out of Mt. San Antonio College also had a good showing.
"It feels good. It's a change of scenery," Smith said of the beach workouts. "It's a little fun, but at the same time we're progressing and putting in a lot of work. ... Coach is trying to get that mind-set of winning in everybody, in every drill we do."
The team ended five weeks of Saturday conditioning sessions on the sand with a little touch pigskin. Smith was quarterback for one team, while Arnold signal-called the other. Arnold's team won by a touchdown.
"They cheated at the end. But it was a good game, they won on a lucky pass," Smith said.
More on the King of the Beach event in Sunday's edition of the Star-Advertiser.