LAHAINA - Lahainaluna High School swimming coach Tom Popdan is a focused, veteran mentor who can readily gauge the future of the teams he leads. And, with young talent moving up to the Luna rosters next season from the club program - along with a solid group of returnees from this year's team - he sees a bright future for his charges.
The Lady Lunas, led by standout efforts by Jesselee Chapman, Paris Sargent, Hailey Berko, Amanda Mayers, Ava McCrea and Geneva Leon, finished third in the final Maui Interscholastic League standings, while the boys team took fifth place paced by first-year competitor Kainoa Altier.
"We had some strong efforts from Jesselee in the 500 and 200 freestyle events, and Paris in the 200 individual medley and the 500 free, who both were state finalists; and Kainoa who qualified for the state meet in the 50 and 100 free," said Coach Popdan from the deck at the Lahaina Aquatic Center last week.
The Lady Lunas finished third in the final Maui Interscholastic League standings, while the boys team took fifth place.
"We've got a group of sophomores and freshmen and a pipeline from the club program to build the high school team in the next three years for future success," he continued.
"We last won the girls MIL championship in 2008, which was the first time that any team other than Baldwin had won the title before or since, and I think we'll have a good shot at it again with top age group swimmers that are coming up. We've also got Jen (Wiseman) doing a tremendous job developing the new swimmers and Bradley Mason from the water polo team helping out. I think we'll be having a good rebuilding future."
Rounding out the girls roster were seniors Naomi Tsuda and Kellie Kahumoku; juniors Jessa Emmerich, Sophia Freddy and Noemi Granados; sophomores Courtney Galarita, Addison Johnson and Kaile Stockham; and freshmen Haley Pante and Hailey Patch.
Joining Altier on the Luna boys team were fellow sophomores Noah Taamu and Kainoa Reponte.
Once again, Popdan praised the work of the Lahaina Aquatic Center lifeguard staff in keeping the facility in top shape throughout the year.
"We never missed a practice or changed our training schedule due to the pool not being ready to go - these guys always do a tremendous job. And Jen and Bradley did a great job - I think it was her best year as a coach and a good idea for Bradley to come over and give the water polo athletes attention. We also got a lot of help from Candace Faust. Everyone's input is greatly appreciated," Popdan concluded.