Hawaii football: Specialists Stan Gaudion, Ryan Meskell welcome the action

Ryan Meskell made the game-winning field goal, held by punter Stan Gaudion, in quintuple overtime at San Jose State on Sept. 28. / Photo by Tony Avelar, Special to the Star-Advertiser

At a typical Hawaii football practice, the specialists — kickers, punters, long snappers and the like — form their own little group in an adjacent grass clearing to hone their craft while the offense and defense clash on the elevated practice field.

But when they’re called in for some team-wide special teams work, with the full roster and coaching staff either participating or spectating, that’s their time to shine. It’s not quite action under the bright lights, but as fall camp goes, it’s the next-best thing.

Monday was such a day for the Rainbow Warriors’ established kicker, senior Ryan Meskell, and punter, redshirt junior Stan Gaudion, who both hail from Australia. It served as a much-needed refresher, and a callback to the 2018 season capper, the SoFi Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 22. There’s a new long snapper, Wyatt Tucker, who replaced the graduated Noah Borden.

“It went really good. It felt good to get some live kicks off for the first time in a while,” Gaudion said this week.

“We need to be out there in front of the team, showing what we can do,” said Meskell, who converted 15 of 18 field goals last season. “You feel the nerves a little bit more when you’re kicking it in a live period, which is good. You need it to get ready for a game. … Throughout camp you settle in and become more comfortable. But since the season, I haven’t had to hit a field goal. Throughout the spring, I didn’t really hit any field goals in front of the team. So it was exciting to get back out there and show the boys what you can do.”

There’s some fresh competition in camp in the form of freshman Harry Hill, a Konawaena graduate. Last year’s reserve kicker, Michael Boyle, may rejoin the roster after camp as well.

Meskell, one of the heroes of UH’s 44-41 five-overtime win at San Jose State, is grateful for that.

“I feel a lot more comfortable in my role on the team now. The season last year helped with my confidence, obviously,” he said. “This year, it being my senior year, I feel pretty settled in what I can do. But it’s good to have another kicker come in that you’ve never met before and push you, because Harry’s in here now. It makes me push myself harder. In the spring, Mike was injured, I didn’t really have anyone to push me. Now that I’ve got Harry here competing, it’s making it a lot more exciting for myself and it’s making me work a lot harder as well.”

Last season, Gaudion shared some punting duties with fellow Melbourne native Ben Scruton, who is back, although Gaudion is pretty clearly still the main guy. He’s averaged 41.5 yards in 107 attempts the last two seasons. More than strictly increasing his average, negating opponents’ return opportunities was on his mind.

“I wanted to work on so much stuff (this offseason),” Gaudion said. “Getting more hang time on punts was a big thing for me, just to limit return yards and make it easier on our coverage. And that really was the main thing. So I got heaps stronger. Ryan and I have been doing Pilates. That’s been helping a bunch, just strengthening up our cores. And have been lifting really hard in the weight room. Changed a few technical things, and just kicking the ball a bit higher.”

He, Meskell and four other teammates have become twice-a-week regulars at Pilates O Ka La.

“So we got quite a good crew at the moment. So (it’s) Ryan and I, obviously, and ‘Mr. Aloha’ Jason Sharsh. Freddy Holly comes down, but I think he wants to get the tight abs for the beach. And Derek Thomas and Zach Ritner as well. So six of us down there. … Our instructor’s name is Chelsea (Peck). She’s incredible. She absolutely kills us. It feels like we do three sessions that day when we do Pilates that day.”

He attributed it to not having any nagging strains or pulls coming into season unlike past years. Gaudion said they intend to keep up the regimen going into the season.

Both players underwent another change heading into this season: Meskell changed his number from 94 to 17 and Gaudion from 99 to 9.

Meskell’s favorite number was worn by receiver Tristin Kamaka last year. His birthday falls on a 17th and the numbers that comprise it are special; 1 is a callback to his soccer goalkeeper days and he used to wear 7 playing rugby.

“It’s sort of the mending of my two sports, and my birthday,” Meskell said.

Gaudion inherited 9 from his friend, receiver Devan Stubblefield.

“My birthday’s on the 3rd of October, and that’s my lucky number, so three times your lucky is 9, so I’ve got three times the luck every time I step on the field,” he said.


  1. JH July 30, 2019 6:37 pm

    Great insight into these two cool cats from Downunder!

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