NAPILI - Maui Preparatory Academy's first-year Athletic Director Kawika Casco is a young man that is very familiar with the Maui Interscholastic League.
A 2005 graduate of the University of Utah, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Casco had a sterling athletic career at Lahainaluna High School as a MIL All-Star in football, wrestling, track and field, swimming and surfing before he attended college.
He came home to his family in Lahaina a year later and soon joined the Maui Prep staff as a physical education teacher.
Xavier Damo is one of the top cross country runners in the Maui Interscholastic League.
When former A.D. Ryan Kirkham moved up to the high school principal position as the current year started, Casco was tabbed as the new leader of the sports programs at the West Side's newest independent educational center.
"This has been an awesome learning experience for me," he exclaimed last week during a brief break in his busy schedule, which includes overseeing Maui Prep's fall sports - girls volleyball and cross country - as well as teaching classes and preparing for a Master's Athletic Administration program that he will enter next year.
"It has been really cool to learn about all of the behind the scenes stuff and all that it takes to make these athletic events happen."
According to Casco, the Pueo cross country team is having another breakthrough season after just falling short of the school's first MIL title in any sport, as the team's top runner was injured just prior to the championship meet last year.
Guided by coaches Keenan Reader, Dennis Nakamura and John Diehl, the current Maui Prep squad is in the hunt once again as the season winds down to the final events of the year.
Team captains Xavier Damo and Skyler Hirsch are leading the charge along with a deep contingent that includes Slater Trout, Caleb Bermudez, Josh Ancheta, Kieran Clark, Ethan Frank, Evan Frederiksen, Nicholas Head, Santana Huck, Alexander Muto, Parker Robb and Rich Sargent.
The Pueo girls team, a young group of sophomores and freshmen, is made up of Sydney Gilbert, Jamie Rosario Advincula, Molie Glass, Ember Hirsch, Danielle Jeffries, May Samari and Samantha Shoemaker.
"We're hoping to qualify a full team - five runners - for the state meet later this month on the Big Island, and Xavier, Skyler and Santana are all up there in the meets thus far. The MIL championships take place on Oct. 20, so we're really excited about that meet," he said.
Athletic Director Casco added that the volleyball team has a new coach in Kelly Krohn, who comes to Maui Prep with collegiate experience from Northern Arizona University by way of the Big Island.
"We really like what she's doing, and the girls are really excited with the turnaround the team is making this year," he said.
The Lady Pueo team captain is Chloe Schafer, and the player roster is made up of Akashi Saito, Alexis Oku, Mikayla Head, Gina Marzo, Jaclyn Blumer, Makena Berry, Shelby Schweitzer, Madolyn Campbell, Chantel Charbonnier, Alexandria Matthews, Katharine Ornelas, Suniva Thangaraj and Alison Torres.
"I am looking forward to the coming year and really appreciate the support I'm getting from the school staff, the parents and families of the kids, and also from the other (athletic directors) in the MIL, who have been very open to help me out. It's been a really exciting start for me and I'm thankful to all," Casco concluded.