Script goes as planned for Ikehara

SEATTLE - It's doubtful that Mykenna Ikehara wants a second crack at the recruiting process. It worked out pretty well for him the first time around. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive lineman from the Kamehameha School Kapalama Campus in Honolulu already bucked long odds by getting a scholarship offer from a Pac-10 school.

If it was a script written for Hollywood, it had a solid Chapter One. To start, Ikehara gets offered by the University of Washington. "He wanted to verbally commit right on the phone," his father Adrian told Sunday after his son's verbal commitment to Tyrone Willingham and the Huskies.

But that was back in the beginning of December. The Ikeharas had just been invited to a presentation of the school during the Huskies' visit to Hawai'i to play the Warriors later that night - but Mykenna was hooked. He wanted to finish the story right there and then, but this was not to be a short story. His parents preached a little patience. For Adrian and Iolani Ikehara - both had prepped at Lewis and Clark College in the west hills of Portland - the pragmatic approach would be best.

During the middle chapters, the youngest Ikehara stewed over his college decision. First his initial trip date fell through. Then the right flights weren't available. So much time to wait! It felt like his choice had already been made, but there was still an official trip to take. What if it didn't work out as he hoped it would? The family had a running joke that all Mykenna needed to do was step off the plane in Seattle in order to satisfy his parent's mandate. But he knew it was going to be OK. Tragedy had no place in the telling of this story.

His father never allowed himself a second thought. "I don't know how I would have reacted if it hadn't gone that way," Adrian admitted, acknowledging his relief for a plan that played itself out to perfection. "Just thinking about it now, I don't know what I would have done. But everything was exactly as they said. I just have a good feeling about everyone that I met there (in Seattle)."

The last chapter was the payoff - that opportunity where Mykenna told UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham that he was ready to become a Husky. He even had a couple of co-conspirators in current UW players Kalani Aldrich and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who had hosted him on his visit. But where would he make his move? When?

"It was toward the end of the trip, and I had my mind made up pretty much from the beginning, but the trip kind of sealed the deal," Ikehara said of the timing of his decision. "I was very impressed with what I saw - the coaches, the professors, the teammates. I got an overall good feeling on my trip."

So on Saturday night, during the recruits' dinner at the Don James Center, Ikehara found a good time to tell Willingham of his intent. "I told him that I had a good feeling about the trip and I felt comfortable in the city as well as on campus, and that I wanted to be a Husky," Mykenna said.

"He (Willingham) seemed really pleased."

Fait Accompli. It was an ending that had already been written.

And for those jaded by the 'soft commit' or the wavering of prospects during their travels toward Signing Day, there are no detours in Mykenna's script. "A commitment means a commitment, not that you can change your mind," Adrian Ikehara said, matter-of-factly. "You can't go to practice for a couple of days and then want to do something else. We wanted to make sure and remind him what commitment means."

For Mykenna's part, he's thrilled there are no more tales to tell - at least at the high school level. He can start writing his sequel in the fall. "I feel a bit more relieved now," he said. "I'm looking forward to making it official."

"His heart was set on Seattle and it never wavered," said Adrian. And everyone loves a feel-good ending.

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