Maui Prep swim teams challenge the MIL’s top guns
NAPILI – Despite being badly outnumbered in roster numbers at every Maui Interscholastic League swim meet in recent years, the Maui Preparatory Academy team has risen to the occasion to challenge the Valley Isle’s top guns for the conference championships in both the boys and girls divisions.
Last year, the Pueo boys gave MIL perennial powerhouse Baldwin a severe challenge before settling for a silver medal.
This season, it is the Maui Prep wahine making a big splash as the upstart team in the league. Led by four-year swimmer and team captain Danielle Jeffries, the defending champion in the 100-meter butterfly and 100 breaststroke in the MIL and the state gold medalist in the 100 fly three years ago, the Pueo girls are making a strong push for the league title.
Also making a big impact is first-year sensation Kysha Altura, who has already qualified for states in all events except the 100-meter breaststroke. She was a favorite in the 200 individual medley and 50 freestyle events at the MIL Championships held last weekend at Kihei Aquatic Center.
The Maui Prep girls relay teams in the 400 medley and 400 free are on record-breaking pace and include Jeffries, Altura, Samantha Shoemaker, Jessica Kingwell and Sophia Johnston. The remainder of the roster includes Molie Glass, Alexandra Mosley, Emma Scott and Danielle Bergson.
The Pueo boys team is led by junior standout Niels Jeske, who has already qualified for the state meet in the 100 free and has consideration efforts in the 50 free, 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke events. Jeske is joined on the MIL championships relay consideration lineup with Nolan Lehman, Coleman Kingwell and Zac Giles. The remainder of the roster includes Rich Sargent, Jonah Bluh, Zachariah Giles and Dante Silva.
Mike “Tex” Ritter is the head coach, and he is assisted by Colleen Jeffries, Becca Johnston and Maui Prep alumnus Alex Lewicki.
“We are really excited for the team this year. It’s unfortunate that the size of our team makes it difficult to compete with the big schools, but we have individuals that are tops in the MIL that give us a chance for an upset,” said Ritter last week.
Down at Hanakao’o Beach Park (Canoe Beach), the Maui Prep canoe paddling teams are making big strokes on their way to reaching up into the MIL standings.
Coached by Paul Sakas, Jason Tebora and Franklin Balinbin, the Pueo paddlers finished the season on Jan. 31 at the league championship regatta at Kahului Harbor.
The Maui Prep mixed crew of Jamie Advincula, Chantal Charbonnier, Sarah Wilhelm, Josiah Miller, Evan Fredricksen and Jonathan Jerome churned out an outstanding effort to record a season best time of 4:37 to finish in sixth place overall.
Other student athletes on the team roster included Tristen Ellen, Cole Nielson, Chanel Charbonnier, Nick Head, Lexie Leon, Lucas Mackin, Danny Ornelas and Griffin Sagar.
The paddling team was supported by Lahaina Canoe Club with the use of the organization’s canoes, paddles and other equipment at the Canoe Beach site.
“We are extremely grateful to Lahaina Canoe Club and its president, Aviva Libitsky, for their sponsorship of our paddling team,” said Maui Prep Athletic Director and Upper School Dean of Students Keenan Reader.