Fall Sports Round-up
It’s time to stock up on all things green – face-paint, T-shirts, banners and signs, as the Molokai High School (MHS) sports teams get ready for your support. The Farmers are gearing up for another fall season when they’ll don their knee pads, lace up their shoes and get behind their rifles in the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL).
The girls’ volleyball team aims to defend its state title this season while boasting the largest roster Matt Helm has seen in his eight years as head coach. The 14-player squad includes five returnees, and with three consecutive Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) titles under their belts, Helm said he knows the team has “a little target on their back.”
“We show pride when we we’re able to knock off ex-state champs, and I’m sure people are gonna be gunning for us,” he said.
That won’t keep them from seeking a repeat performance, though.
“If you’re gonna play volleyball, you always [aim] for the state tournament,” he said. “If you’re gonna compete, your goal is always to make it to the top.”
Five players graduated last year – including MIL Athlete of the Year Kalei Adolpho, who earned a University of Hawaii athletic scholarship for her basketball and volleyball talents – and two more transferred schools. With nine new players, he said this year “there’s gonna be a lot more teaching going on.”
He expects leadership from four-year letterman Natalia Levi, who returns as middle blocker and outside hitter, as well as from returnees Leenell Hernandez, Carol Kahe`e, Taylor Keliihoomalu and Taylor Tamanaha. Together, they will teach newcomers the competitive MHS volleyball strategy.
“We’re always playing to win, and not playing not to lose,” he said. “That’s kind of been our style. We’re gonna continue with that.”
Helm noted that success is measured in many ways, and he focuses on trying to relate the sport to life. Adversities in life are like adversities in the game, he said, and he wants the girls to overcome them.
“What measures success for us is when we can see our players out there being contributors in the community, going out and getting a college degree, and just … being a better person in some way,” he said.
With 26 girls trying out, this is also the first time in at least two years that the program will field a junior varsity team, to be coached by Ui and Walter Kalani. Helm thanked players and parents for their participation and support during a long try-out process.
Head coach Gandharva Ross will look for leadership from cousins Akona and Paka Adolpho, who return to the boys’ cross-country team this year as juniors after a successful season last year. As practices start this week, Ross said he expects many of last year’s roster to return, with the addition of a few new freshmen.
Ross said a recurrent goal is to make it to states as a team, which they accomplished a few years ago. The top two MIL teams are given tickets to the championship, where individual runners can also qualify.
“For us, it’s sometimes a struggle to get a full team,” Ross said. “We feel good about our accomplishments over the past years and we look forward to maintaining that.”
Team members run more than 20 miles a week in preparation for their two regular season meets. The training helps student-athletes prepare for other sports and learn how to push themselves both physically and mentally.
“A lot of it is really mental … [and] a lot of it is really individual. If they wanna put in the time, they go on longer and longer,” said Ross, who has coached the team for about 10 years. “We’re excited to get back on the road and represent Molokai.”
Kelly Go returns to her second year as head coach of the girls’ cross-country team, where she will be joined by newcomer assistant coach Eugene Santiago, a sergeant in the police force. With no seniors on the roster last year, Go expects most of her runners to return this season for two regular season meets.
Senior Petrisha Alvarez looks to return to states, while Go also expects leadership from returning senior Charisse Manley.
“Our goal is to improve last year’s times, and to be in better condition at the beginning of the season,” Go said. “The biggest hurdle is just to build up their endurance and their drive to keep getting better.”
Runners tally between 12 to 18 miles over four days each week. While many girls use cross-country to get in shape for spring season sports, Go asks them to stay focused on this season, she said, noting the sport teaches time management, discipline and stress relief.
“I would hope that they’ll learn … to focus on the activity at the moment and do their best every time they come out,” Go said. “Hopefully they will carry that through with everything they do.”
Kayla Matson is currently ranked No. 1 in the MIL preseason air riflery poll, as she and the women on the air riflery team look to defend their league title. Matson also took the individual league crown for women last year.
Watching the girls win the MIL and participate in states “was a really good experience,” said head coach Eddie Gorospe, who takes the reigns this year after assisting coaching veteran David Kalani, who retired after more than 18 years.
“I was very, very proud of them,” said Gorospe, who expects all of his female shooters to return this season. “They’re like the ambassadors of the sport right now, bringing a sport to Molokai that’s not known like volleyball or baseball. … People on Molokai are starting to understand what riflery is all about.”
Gorospe and assistant coach Henry Corpuz will also coach the boys squad, which practices and travels with the girls. The boys placed third in the MIL last year.
“Our expectations are really high, especially for the boys because they’re all returning as well,” Gorospe said. “The boys are really hungry [for competition] themselves.”
While the team has previously used air-pump rifles during their meets – requiring pumping and movement that disrupts their shooting position – they’re excited for the chance to use compressed guns this year, which require far less movement and are used by most teams during the state tournament. The Molokai Air Riflery Club, which is run by Gorospe and Cruz, raised funds to buy the four guns and loan them to the team for use.
“The air riflery team is alive and well,” Gorospe said. “We’re ready to shoot ‘em up.”
The Farmers will compete in the first of their three regular season meets Sept. 18 at Hana High.
Parents and student-athletes interested in playing any sports throughout the school year are encouraged to attend a mandatory parent-athlete meeting Aug. 10 at the MHS gym at 5 p.m. Attendees will watch a video and receive information about mandatory paperwork required to play sports.