LAHAINA - The traditional sports rivalry between the West Side's Lahainaluna High School and Central Maui's Baldwin continues to grow in intensity, as both the girls and boys golf teams drove, chipped and putted their way to another head-to-head confrontation for Maui Interscholastic League supremacy in the 2013 season.
Unfortunately for the Luna "Red Tide" faithful, both the boys and girls teams lost the head-to-head matches with Baldwin's lineups - two of the top-rated teams in Hawaii high school rankings - and finished the team standings at 8-2 for the MIL team competition, leaving them in second and third place, respectively.
However, there still is a chance for individual placement at the state tournament, as the Luna boys and girls will now enter individual play for a chance to garner several of the eight available MIL slots for the championship playoffs that will be held here on Maui at Kaanapali on May 7-8.
The Lady Lunas finished third in the team standings. PHOTO BY KALI JONES.
The five rounds of individual play will be spread over the week of April 12-20 at Waiehu, Elleair, Pukalani, Kapalua Bay Course and the Royal Kaanapali Course.
"We are very optimistic about our chances this year," said Luna boys coach Mike Jones, who is assisted by Sutee Nitakorn and Don Rosenthal.
"We made a run at Baldwin in the team competition, but things just didn't work out for us. I still think we can get four or five of the individual slots to the state tournament. We're a real inexperienced team this year with Malu (Rosenthal) our only senior, but despite being so young, they worked hard and were attentive to the coaches."
Mike Jones' wife, Laura, the Lady Luna coach, echoed her husband's assessment of the girls team.
"We are really young this year with only one senior," she commented. "We're looking forward to a bright future because of this. We really had good discipline and camaraderie on the team, with all the girls injecting positive energy and good spirit into their effort. They really got along well with one another and were a fun team to be around."
The Lady Luna roster included senior Bailey Pendergast, juniors Sabrina Armijo and Shelly Kurose, sophomores Ennah Cabading and Jennifer Mentz, and freshmen standouts Caitlyn and Caylyn Villatora.
The boys team was led by one of the MIL's top players in senior Rosenthal, who is headed to Warner Pacific College in Oregon and will compete on the golf team and pursue a career in business administration there.
Rosenthal is joined by juniors Rhett Wiseman and Kerek Franz, sophomores Lucas Bell and Jake Horton, and freshmen Tristan Villa and Laka Rosenthal on the Luna roster.
Both Laura and Mike Jones expressed their gratitude to both the Kapalua and Kaanapali golf courses for allowing the Lahainaluna teams to use the facilities at these world-class resorts for practice and competition.
"People like Chris Noda at the Kapalua Golf Academy do so much to set up the tournaments, and the resorts at Kaanapali and Kapalua along with the families and the community go a long way in creating a successful future for these young student athletes. We really appreciate all of these contributions," concluded Laura.