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New stadium will provide spark for Luna track athletes

By Staff | May 20, 2010

From left, Coach Randy Yamamoto, Chantal Charkas, Kiana Yamat and Coach Lance Nanod stand at the old practice site at the back of the Lahainaluna High School campus.

LAHAINA — There is a certain, tireless dedication in the psyche of every track and cross county coach that perseveres throughout the ages. For Lahainaluna High School coach Randy Yamamoto, this dedication has manifested itself through generations.

Satoki Yamamoto, Randy’s father and a biology teacher at Lahainaluna, was a pioneer in promoting track and cross country during the mid-1950s and established the Lahainaluna Invitational — now the Maui Interscholastic League Championships — as the premiere track and field event for Maui.

The track facility at War Memorial Stadium is named in his honor.

Today, Randy represents the old guard of running enthusiasts trying to keep the sport alive in the face of dwindling student interest and a lack of practice facilities here on the West Side.

That, however, will all change in a week or two as the “Redo the Imu” project to bring a state-of-the-art athletic facility to the Lahainaluna campus will see phase one — a synthetic field surface and all-weather track — be completed.

Randy Yamamotos of the world take heart — if you build it, they will come!

Over the last 20 years or so, Lahainaluna track and field student-athletes have trained in the most dilapidated facilities in Maui County. The track was a rutted hazard, and there were no jump facilities to practice on, so the Luna teams traveled to Wailuku to use the Satoki Yamamoto track for training. (Isn’t it ironic that a Lahainaluna icon would have a facility next door to arch rival Baldwin named after him?)

Thanks to the work of the Lahainaluna High School Foundation led by Rob Shelton, Mark Tillman and Jeff Rogers, as well as the generosity of benefactor Sue Cooley, the “Redo the Imu” project is nearing completion of Phase I and will be ready to go as soon as June 1.

The Luna track athletes now practice on a dusty strip of dirt adjacent to the old P.E. Building at the back of the campus. The saving grace and inspiration for the current athletes is that they look down daily at the construction crews as they work on the finishing touches to the new track and field.

With the season winding down to the final stages, there are but a few athletes left with Coach Randy and assistants Lance Nanod, Randy Casco and Diosa Hussey that come up to practice and gaze with anticipation at the construction process below.

“We have two pole vaulters, junior Chantal Charkas and sophomore Kiana Yamat, that qualified for the state meet,” said Coach Yamamoto.

“It’s been difficult to maintain a training regimen with all that has been going on around here. Still, I admire the commitment and dedication of all the kids and the coaches — like Lance, who drives from Wailuku every day to help — to carry on and try make good with what we have. It was tough to work out on the Boarders’ Field and to run on the roadways. We’re really looking forward to practicing on a first-class facility. It will make things really rice.”

The Luna boys team was led by senior team captain Bernard Lambert and classmate Tyler Robb; juniors Luke Williams and Jostin Carbajal; and freshman Billy Schusser.

The girls team was spearheaded by Charkas, the team captain; junior Rose Bacolini; sophomores Yamat and Jissell Walters; and freshmen Eryn Pendergast, Leana Alibin, Malia Bartalome and Jazzy Sado.