MHS Athletes Ready for Winter Season
As the holiday season nears, most students are getting ready for winter break, but athletes at Molokai High School (MHS) have been busy preparing for their upcoming season. Swimming, Wrestling, Girls’ Canoe Paddling, Girls’ Basketball and Boys’ basketball have all been training hard in hopes of making it to the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) championships this year.
Water sports are a large part of the lifestyle on Molokai, so naturally the Friendly Isle has produced some of the state’s top swimmers, including state-record holder Ilia Reyes, whose time for the 50 meter freestyle qualified him for the Olympic trials last year. This year, the swim team at MHS has 25 student-athletes, and expects to see at least a few finalists at the MIL championships this year, according to head coach Jessie Ford.
“Our team has increased in size and skill over the past few years and become increasingly dedicated to improvement,” said Ford, who has been coaching at MHS for the past four years. “Over time and with more training, we will see more teammates break into that level [MIL championships] and into state qualifications as well.”
Though the season only lasts three months, Ford said she is committed to improving discipline, conditioning and technique among the swimmers, whose skill levels range from beginners to moderate swimmers. She hopes more swimmers will join the year-round swim club so that MHS swimmers will be even more competitive.
Occasional volunteer coaches include Hunter Pawn-Kalilikane, Lorraine Coleman, Camie Kimball, Jessica Oswald and Chavis Purdy.
Their next MIL meet is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 15 at Kihei Aquatic Center.
Last year, both the boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams placed in the MIL Championships. The boys’ team placed third while the girls took second. There were five MIL individual champions and four state medalists, including MHS graduate Mikayla Pico, who placed third in the national championships in 2011.
While the team has had its fair share of success in the past, this year is looking to be a building year for the MHS wrestling team, according to Randy Manley, who has been the head coach for the past 14 years.
“Both the girls and the boys teams are young and inexperienced,” said Manley. “We are looking to build a solid foundation with the underclassmen that we have as we look to be a strong force in the MIL in the next couple of years.”
There are 31 students enrolled on the MHS wrestling team this season, though Manley said, “Our biggest challenge is always recruitment and retention.”
Assistant coaches this year will be Kawika Kaahanui and Matt Tanielu.
Their season opener is scheduled to be the Maui Invitational Tournament from Dec. 14 to 15 at Lahaina Civic Center.
Girls’ Canoe Paddling
It’s always paddling season on Molokai, but for MHS, canoe paddling season is in the winter. While there will be no boys’ team this year due to a shortage of enrollment, the girl’ team is poised for competition.
In 2010, the MHS girls’ team took home the MIL title, and went on to place third in the state competition. Last year was “a building year,” as the team was comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores, said head coach Tani Kaholoaa. Their goal for this season is to “bring that MIL title back home,” she said.
“We are focusing on teamwork, paddling together –one heart, one mind, one spirit,” said Kaholoaa, who has been coaching at the high school for the past four years. She uses her own experiences of growing up around paddling to motivate her athletes.
“Paddling has always been a part of my life –I was in diapers when my parents took me around the canoe,” said Kaholoaa.
Still, the season is not without its challenges, the major one being time management.
“Our biggest challenge at the moment is school work, projects, science fair due dates,” said Kaholoaa. “It cuts into our practice time, but school has to come first.”
The team this year has 14 girls –seven varsity and seven junior varsity (JV). This is the first year ever that they are able to take a JV team
Kaholoaa would like to thank her brother Bozo Dudoit for assisting her with coaching the team.
Their first MIL Meet of the season is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 15 at Kahului Harbor.
It’s all about defense this year, according to MHS girls’ basketball coach Lee DeRouin, who is returning to MHS basketball after a two-year break. He was the coach for MHS boys’ basketball, leading them to a couple Division II MIL titles and three state tournament appearances.
“Defense will get the team to play hard and play together to become a real close unit,” said DeRouin. He said they will bolster their defensive play by focusing on “pressuring the ball and dictating tempo.”
“The girls have been very dedicated and passionate each practice the past three weeks in preparing for the upcoming MIL season,” said DeRouin. “The team is aware they can accomplish some wonderful things this season with hard work, discipline, pride and a willingness to support each other throughout the season.”
The team is made up of 13 girls this year, with four first-year players. Still, senior team captains Tyra Mollena-Lopez and Camille Borden have brought leadership, experience and a strong work ethic by example, according to DeRouin.
MHS alumni of the class of 2008 Jay Bumatay will be assisting Coach DeRouin this year.
Their next game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 against Lanai at their home gym, The Barn.
The boys’ basketball team from MHS was the MIL Division II champions two years ago, and they have a good chance to win the championships again this year, according to head coach Lester Delos Reyes.
“We’re a young team at the front court –center and forward positions –so we’re working on improving that,” said Delos Reyes. “We’re trying to focus more on the post-up plays and individual skills.”
Though they do have young talent in the post, the team does have a few experienced returnees handling the ball in the guard positions. Among these are team captains David Rapanot and Hauoli Falealii, who were both named to the Division-II All-Star team last year.
There are 16 boys on this year’s team, an increase from the usual 12 to 13 players, according to Delos Reyes.
“We have a young group of boys who are just learning the system and learning to play with one another and…building chemistry,” said Delos Reyes.
Assistant Coaches Paul and Carl Adolpho will be helping Delos Reyes this season.
The boys are scheduled to play their first game at 7 p.m. on Dec. 28 against Seabury at Seabury.