The underwater spear fishing team that will represent the CNMI in the upcoming 6th Micronesian Games has been finalized after the sport’s organizing committee held its qualifier Saturday.
According to sport organizing committee chairman Richard B. Seman, the three individuals that have qualified to represent the CNMI and their alternate have already been named.
Leading the cast of qualifiers and securing a spot on the team is Felix Sasamoto Jr., who placed first in the nine-man field after the total weight of his catch was recorded at over 38 pounds.
Taking second place honors was Mark Hapdei, who returned to shore with a catch of over 12 pounds, while Frank Pangelinan capped the top qualifiers with a total weight of over 11 pounds.
Crispin Sasamoto took home fourth place and will serve as an alternate for the Games.
“It was pretty nice,” Seman said during an interview yesterday. “The guys were pretty high spirited. They really supported each other.”
Seman explained that the fishermen caught a lot of fish. However, some of the catch weren’t included during weigh-ins as they barely missed the minimum qualifying weight of one-pound per fish.
The qualifier was held between Agingan Point adjacent to the Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio and the Light House Platform across the 13 Fishermen Memorial in Garapan, with personnel and vessels assistance from the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“They fish within that zone, and that zone is one of two zones that will be used for Micro Games,” Seman said.
Seman said all fishermen underwent inspection of their gears and safety briefing at 8am. They then headed out for their journey at 9am.
Seman said the fishermen returned to shore at about 3:30pm, 30 minutes before the deadline. Shortly after, all fish were inspected, weighed, and recorded at the Smiling Cove Marina.
Seman noted that the three top performers will be training together under the guidance of coach Jacinto Taman in preparation for the Games.
Taman coached the CNMI gold medal teams in the 1990 Games on Saipan and 1994 Games on Guam.
The two-day Micro Games underwater spear fishing competition will be held on June 26 and June 27.
“Things look pretty good,” Seman said of the team. “The guys that participated are really well-conditioned fishermen. As you know, daytime fishing is not simple, but they were pretty good despite the situation that they were going after bigger fish during the day.”
Seman said all participants kept their catch, however, he indicated that all fish caught during the Games will be donated to the Olympic Village for all athletes and officials of the Micro Games.
The Micro Games will be held from June 23 to July 2, with over 1,400 athletes and officials from the CNMI, Guam, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Palau expected to compete. Participation from Nauru has yet to be confirmed.