LAHAINA - Folks all across Maui County and throughout the state are continually in awe of the undying spirit of the Lahainaluna High School faithful in the support of the Luna sports teams.
Whether it is football, basketball, softball or wrestling, the fan base of Lahainaluna carries with it a tradition like no other.
A vital force in that continuing tradition is the bright and shining Luna cheerleaders leading the throngs of supporters at the various athletic events.
The Lahainaluna High School cheerleaders placed third in the recent Maui Interscholastic League Cheerleading Championships.
Now into her sixth year guiding the Luna cheerleaders, Stacey Shibao leads the way as the head coach along with assistants Nohealani Ralar, Otis Gomes, Emily Shaw and Rikki "Don't Lose That Number" Lynn Ancog.
"We've got a really big squad of 21 girls this year, and I'm really happy with the effort they all put out, especially the leadership of our seniors," said Shibao from her desk at the Kaunoa Senior Center last week.
"It all goes along with the tremendous support that the community gives to Lahainaluna, the sports teams and to the cheerleading squad."
Along with the record-setting roll that the Luna football team is on this season, the cheerleading squad competed in the Maui Interscholastic League Cheerleading Championships three weeks ago at the Baldwin High School gymnasium.
The Lahainaluna team finished in third place behind MIL champ Kamehameha Schools Maui and second place Baldwin.
The Luna effort was led by the core leadership of the seniors, including four-year returnees Kelsey Shultz, Lauren Bidel, Erica Sanchez, Taylor Trout, Sherrilyn Ramelb, Karen Galaurdo, Itzia Berry, Breea Yamat and first-year member Mahea Williams.
They are joined by juniors Courtney Ruidas, Aisha Rabanel, Eliza Criste, Amzi Tinajero and Pohai Miyamoto, as well as sophomores Kiana Nakoa, Rachel Hillen and Karley Keanini.
Freshmen Tina "Mino" Criste, Bemaima Salem, Kamryn Chang, Taylor Becker, Vanessa Aguilar and Shania Abut round out the 2013-14 cheerleading team.
"The girls have worked really hard this year with summer conditioning, and we really appreciate the support the parents have given us, and also thanks to the Lahainaluna High School Foundation and the Kaunoa Senior Center for their help. We are really excited about the upcoming playoff football games," added Shibao.
"You know, we really love these girls, and we admire the work they have put in to technically improve in all facets of cheering. We are trying to be mentors and a support system for the girls. They are really community-oriented and have given up their spare time to contribute to functions outside of cheering. They want to be there for everybody."