High school surfers enjoy historic day
LAHAINA — It was a breakthrough day of “firsts” at Hookipa Beach Park two weeks ago.
That golden day — a classic, blue sky/light wind moment — highlighted the first-ever official Maui Interscholastic Surf Championships.
The perseverance of Valley Isle youth sports leader Kim Ball, who for ten years weathered the resistance of the state Department of Education to bring surfing to the same level of all interscholastic sports in Hawaii, finally came to fruition.
Ball arranged certification courses with Lahaina waterman and county Ocean Safety Supervisor Archie Kalepa for Maui’s high school surfing coaches.
In turn, these coaches were then qualified to certify the student-athletes to gain approval to hold official Maui Interscholastic competitions.
Previously, the high school surf meets were held behind the charade of names like the Westside Boardriders to represent the Lahainaluna High School contingent.
The charade is over.
The waves were small, in the two- to three-foot range, but the conditions were perfect to showcase the local high school surfers’ talents. The students rode out of the shadows to bask in the brilliant sunshine in celebration of the first official event here on Maui.
“This was really a breakthrough time for high school surfing, with the coaches and kids getting the safety certification process done,” said Rick Waring, now into his 12th year leading the Lahainaluna surf team, after helping to establish the National Scholastic Surfing Association on the Mainland.
“Now we can look forward to more MIL surf meets on a regular basis, more competitions between individual schools. This will attract more kids to join the surf teams, and this will encourage the kids to be more involved in school and to get good grades.”
Another first came in the girls longboard competition, as Maui Preparatory Academy’s Kati Minami soul arched her way to the school’s first-ever championship in any sport.
Minami, who will be Maui Prep’s first graduate in the school’s four-year history, also took second in the shortboard competition to help her team to a sixth place overall finish with 65 total points on the day.
“I was just fortunate to catch some waves,” she explained. “We were surfing at Middles and there weren’t many waves. I learned to surf at Hookipa and I think that helped.”
Coached by Kawika Casco, the Maui Prep team included Minami, Zane Schweitzer (who finished third in the boys longboard event), Dino DiSalvio, CJ Lerback, Trent Rosenquist and Derek Cuevas.
King Kekaulike was the overall winner, but Lahainaluna chased the Upcountry team all day long to finish in the runner-up slot.
The Lunas piled up 133 points, led by Nick Falbo’s second place and Loren Cardoza’s sixth place efforts in the boys shortboard event, and Puali Soloman’s fifth place effort in the boys longboard competition held at Pavilions.
Back over at Middles, the Lady Lunas were led by Casey Egan, who took third in the bodyboard and fifth in the longboard events, and Moana Tuipulotu, who finished fourth in both the bodyboard and longboard divisions.
Adding points for Lahainaluna were Koral Gill and Jen Santos — in fifth and sixth place, respectively, in the bodyboard event. Santos also came in fourth place in the shortboard category.
Hailey Gill, Dakota Dauenhauer, Dustdin Guthrie, Bryce Jacinto and Andres Balmeceda also competed for the Lunas.