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Warming Up with Winter Athletics

The end of the year brings a new winter athletic season. Though most students are getting ready to take a holiday break, farmer athletes are fired up, training hard and ringing in the New Year with new coaches, new competition and new goals for state championships.

Boys and Girls Swimming
For MHS swimming, some athletes have been training all year through the Molokai Chapter of Maui Dolphins Swim Club (MDSC) — a swimming program for all ages that began in August — prepping for the season.

“Every year we’ve gotten a little bit better and our team has grown,” said fourth year coach Jessie Ford.

Twenty-one students came out to test the waters and after several hard practices, 18 stuck with it to make the roster. For each meet throughout the season, the swimmers will compete in 10 events–seven individual races and three relays–all competing against the clock to qualify for states.

“Last year we did pretty awesome,” said Ford. “Our relay team went to state, which was our first state appearance in 10 years.”

Ford said she wants to continue that record by training hard and adding additional practices with ambitious goals during Christmas break.

“We’ll have double practices during the day,” she said. “My goal is to break 6,000 meters a day with those two practices combined.”

After seeing the team’s dedication in and out of the water combined with fundraising and year-round training, Ford said she the team has taken the MHS swimming program to a new level. She said the team is excited to see their hard work pay off at their first MIL competition Saturday, Dec. 14, at Maui’s Kihei Aquatic Center.

“They are working much more as a coordinated team with more sophisticated sets and more discipline than I’ve seen before,” Ford said. “They’re also self-driven and support each other, and I think they are just a neat group of kids.”

Boys and Girls Wrestling
Now that the Farmers wrestling team has entered its sixth week of drilling, conditioning and learning moves and composition, athletes looking to take down the competition this winter.

As Randy Manley enters his 10th year of coaching the wrestling program at MHS, he said each year he enjoys seeing the freshmen coming out for the team and becomes invested in their success.

“We have a kids community [wrestling] program that runs six weeks in the spring,” he said. “I’ve seen some of these kids get into wrestling as early as elementary school and work through the program all the way through high school. It’s nice to see them grow as athletes and into adults.”

Manley said the girl’s side is set up to do well, as last year they took fifth place at the state level. Five girls and one boy placed in individual wrestling competitions.

This high school season, 14 wrestlers represent the boys’ team and 19 will compete for the girls, filling 13 weight classes.

“We don’t ever make cuts,” said Manley. “Our philosophy has always been, if you stick it out, you can compete.”

With tournaments held every weekend, Manley said all athletes will get the chance to compete. The next competition is scheduled next weekend, Dec. 13-14, at War Memorial Center.

Manley said at least six of the eight teams in the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) are traveling to Molokai as MHS is hosting their own tournament this year. Competition will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 and will continue Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 a.m.

Girls Paddling
Paddling coach Tania Kaholoaa said although last year’s varsity crew was young, they worked hard and paddled all the way to states, taking second place. Entering a new season with the same crew, they’re back with the competitive fire to take the title.

“I’m really excited about this year,” said Kaholoaa. “I’m seeing a lot of dedication and heart and soul in some of the players.”

Because there hasn’t been enough interest to start a boys paddling crew for the past two seasons, the funds that were allocated to them will go towards continuing a girls JV team. This year brings a new wave of competition as five new paddlers have joined last year’s 12. All 17 are vying for a spot in one of the two, six-man canoes that will represent varsity and JV.

“It’s nice because now we can move them around [to compete],” said Kaholoaa. “They’ve got to fight for their seat so they’re really practicing hard.”

And for the athletes, practicing hard takes on a new definition.

In addition to Kaholoaa and assistant coach Bozo Dudoit, the coaching staff welcomes Molokai local Tiana Levi-Merino, who has both a paddling and military background.

“Her intense military training has kicked up their warm ups and workouts,” said Kaholoaa. “We try to run [the girls] hard so they’ll be really ready for states.”

However, getting to states doesn’t solely depend on talent. Kaholoaa said because the school will only pay for three races, in past years they have had to ask for funding support from the community to travel to championships.

So far this season, the team has organized a sweet bread sale and plans to hold another fundraiser in the future. Kaholoaa said she is shooting to get the team to five races this season.

Their upcoming race is scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Ka Lae Pohaku on Maui.

Check back next week for more winter sports.


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