LAHAINA - With a state-of-the-art athletic facility in place at Lahainaluna High School and a veteran head coach in Lance Nanod, the outlook for the future of track and field at the oldest public school west of the Rocky Mountains takes on a bright gleam. Add to the mix an eager, energetic group of underclassmen, and the prospects for success in the sport look brighter still.
Coach Nanod, who works in the Health and Physical Education Office of the Department of Education here on Maui, has spent some 20 years in developing a coaching philosophy that focuses on team, good character, sportsmanship and self-discipline. This year, that effort attracted the largest group of student athletes the coach has seen in all his years with the Luna track and field program.
The 2012 squad was made up of predominately freshmen and sophomores, and so the Lahainaluna coaching staff - Nanod, Randy Casco, Diosa Hussey, Al Souza, Ray Yamat, Romel Tejero and Trent Ancog - had their work cut out for them from the start.
Nine track athletes at Lahainaluna High School qualified for the state meet on Friday and Saturday. Photos by Art Fillazar.
"This was the largest team we've had, but most of them being freshmen and sophomores and very new to track and field, the coaches had a lot of teaching and coaching to do at practices and at meets," said Coach Lance from the "Imu" athletic field at Lahainaluna.
"The trainers (Jon Conrad and Mikala Pino) were also kept busy with a large number of shin splint injuries."
The young team persevered, however, and, according to Coach Nanod, showed a positive attitude regarding practices and discipline throughout the season.
"The majority of the team had a great attitude, and so, with such a young team, we have a great base for next year - there's a lot of potential," he said.
The Lady Luna team was led this year by four-year letter winner Kiana Yamat, who set a school record in the pole vault with a 9'3" effort that qualified her for the state meet May 11-12 at Keaau on the Big Island; and her sister, Breea Yamat, only a sophomore, who qualified for states in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and the triple jump.
Also spearheading the girls' effort this year were sophomore Kailey Sager, who qualified in the 1,500- and 800-meter runs, and freshmen Ariana Badua and Raybeka Sinenci in the pole vault.
The remainder of the roster included senior Tihani Cadiam-Moore; juniors Leanne Alibin and Kellie-Ann Kahumoku; sophomores Jessa Emmerich, Alexandria Craig, Kirsten Gilchrist, Alicia Huliganga, Sheina Manangan, Sidney McKinney, Kimberlie Nguyen and Kelsey Schultz; and freshmen Angelica Cuaresma, Angel Cuaresma, Aliza Madriaga, Patricia Nebrida, Ahtziri Orozco and Shaina Saribay-Talana.
Sophomore sensation Korban Kaikkonen led the boys' effort with state qualifying efforts in the 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter events, along with junior Claude Mason Sherwood's high jump mark of 5'9", sophomore Kaimana Ancog's 200-meter time of 23.54, and freshmen Emerson Liburd's 43.20 in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Senior Jeremy DeGracia completed his fourth year on the squad and was joined by first-year classmates Kevin Dagupion and Bradley Quiseng.
Juniors Rodrigo Arroyo-Haro, Michael Naganuma, William Schusser and Reece Sinenci; sophomores Levi Delos Reyes, Mathew Kanohokula, Jacob Naganuma, Joshua Pintur, Anthony Salvador Jr., Felipe Sanchez, Brandon Tejero, Justin Tinao, Austin Welck and Kaipo Wilmeth; and freshmen Amateo Flores, Conner Mowat, Jacob Ramirez and Danny Sulunga-Kahaialii rounded out the Lahainaluna roster.
"Our MVPs for the year were Breea Yamat and Corban Kaikkonen, and my special thanks goes out to Coach Jon (Conrad) and Coach Randy (Casco) for their effort in training the athletes in the speed and quickness program on Mondays and Wednesdays before practice. Unfortunately, this program might be cut due to budget shortfalls, but we'll see. I'm looking forward to next season," said Coach Nanod.