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Luna cross country team emphasizes the benefits of running

By Staff | Oct 30, 2014

Lahainaluna High School runners were all smiles after their first Maui Interscholastic League meet.

LAHAINA – First-year Lahainaluna High School cross country coach Monchai Panak brings a fresh, new approach to the program at the historic campus.

“We try to instill an appreciation of running and the health benefits of running into the kids,” said Panak last week from the bleachers of the soon-to-be-completed Lahainaluna athletic facility.

“We try to make the kids aware of the value of running for health and keep the competition aspect secondary. The ranking will come naturally after that. Our main focus has been to provide safe guidance and an environment for the kids to learn and grow in.”

Coach Monchai, assisted by Chad Ferguson this season, went on to say that although his team is young with many freshmen on the roster, they have made a good start in building a solid foundation for the future.

“We have several runners in the (Maui Interscholastic League) top 20, and four of them are close to state qualifying times,” he said.

The 2014 Lunas are led by senior captains Nicole Aceret and Kamal Golaube, along with classmates Kerek Franz, Stephanie Haro, Nick Ramirez and Arelio Medina. Rounding out the boys varsity roster are Abraham Olea, Dean Omura, Joseph Ramirez and Christopher Egan. The girls team includes Karrina Arroy-Hoyo, Kenia Bautista and Noemi Granados.

The girls junior varsity lineup is comprised of Zillah Lafey, Gariela Miyamoto, Angelei Shulman, Maya Ryan, Ruby O’Donnell, Lily Tran, Leah Campos, Yasmine Chadli and Kristina Mau. Owen Pendergast and Nick Nunez were the boys JV team members. The team managers are seniors Katya Brody and Sophia Fredy.

Panak brought the team together at the beginning of the school year to start practice sessions that have included speed work on the track at Lahainaluna two times a week along with hill work at the Kapalua Resort three times a week. The MIL Championships were held last Saturday at Keopuolani Park in Wailuku, and the state meet will take place this weekend on Oahu.

“It has been gratifying to see the new kids improving over the season, running with smiles on their faces,” added Coach Monchai. “The team really came together to help one another improve, and the seniors were good examples for the newer ones to follow. We are grateful to all of the parents for their support, and especially to Steve and Cassidy O’Donnell for all of the work they put in hosting the West Maui Invitational Meet.”