LAHAINA - Third-year Lahainaluna High School girls golf coach Laura Jones is a busy woman. The former collegiate player at Illinois State is a married mother of two daughters, teaches health and physical education at the school and serves as the senior class advisor, all while coaching the young and talented Lady Lunas.
The Lahainaluna team came out strong at the start of the season but has since hit some divots to fall to third place in the Maui Interscholastic League standings behind Baldwin and Maui High.
"We're a very young team, with no seniors, and these girls are a very coachable group that responds well to the drills we have for them... they understand the importance of this practice. We just need to improve our application of game strategy to improve, then we will achieve our goals of going to states as a team and sending as many individuals as we can to the MIL and state tournaments," explained Coach Jones last week from her campus classroom.
The Lahainaluna High School boys and girls golf teams finished second and third, respectively, in the Maui Interscholastic League standings. PHOTOS BY ART FILLAZAR.
"We are so grateful to all of the golf courses on Maui for supporting junior golf and high school programs," she continued. "And especially to the Kaanapali and Kapalua courses for growing the game with these youth programs here on the West Side. It is really a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be able to learn the game courtesy of these resorts."
The 2014 Lady Luna roster includes juniors Ennah Cabading and Jennifer Mentz; sophomores Caitlyn Villatora, Caylyn Villatora and Haylee Patch; and freshman Hoku Delatori.
The MIL season runs through the third week of April, followed by the state championships at Turtle Bay on Oahu's North Shore.
The Luna boys are currently playing the MIL individual matches at several different courses on Maui, including Kahili, Pukalani, Wailea and Kaanapali, toward qualifying for the Turtle Bay championship event after finishing second to Baldwin in the MIL team race that was completed three weeks ago.
Coach Sutee Nitakorn, the PGA professional at Kaanapali now into his seventh year with the Lunas, is hoping for a strong performance by the team in the individual championships.
"We're hoping to get six - out of the nine MIL slots - of our players into the state championships," he said. "The boys have really been playing well this year, and all of their stroke averages are lower. There's really strong team unity with this group, and they certainly have a good chance to do well in the MILs and at states."
The Luna boys are led by senior captain Rhett Wiseman, who is joined by juniors Lucas Bell, Kerek Franz and Lance Ito; sophomore Tristan Villa; and freshmen Kaimi Kanaha and Antonio Bak on the team roster.
"Our thanks goes out to Kaanapali Golf Manager Ed Kageyama, Jim and Judy Peterson, and to Don Rosenthal for all their help with this team," said Coach Sutee.