Coach enjoys spirit of the LHS water polo team
LAHAINA – Lahainaluna High School water polo head coach Bradley Mason is a happy man these days. Despite a one goal loss to Maui Interscholastic League foe Baldwin two weeks ago, which dropped the three-time defending champion Lady Lunas into second place at the halfway point of the season, the six-year Lahainaluna mentor is as bright-eyed and energized as ever.
“There is a great enthusiasm and camaraderie in the team this year. It’s a great spirit that really keeps the team fired up, and I really like that,” said Coach Bradley from poolside at the pristine Lahaina Aquatic Center last week.
That senior leadership comes in the triumvirate of captains Alicia Wintermeyer, Julia Bianco and Sydney Wagner, as well as juniors Nikki Zamani, Eva Olson, Lara Claydon and Kyra Franz. That magnificent seven provides the stalwart effort that has taken the Lahainaluna program to the top of the MIL and into state playoffs year after year. They are all familiar names at the LAC with their standout swimming careers with the Lahaina Swim Club and the high school team. Senior Keolani Hill and junior Nicole Slusser, both first-year players, add depth to the roster.
The sophomore group that has injected the youthful energy that Coach Bradley so values is all new and includes Dakota Delos Reyes, Mei Lei Wegner, Brooke Whitehead and Teisa Vehikite. The first-year group has also contributed to the Lady Luna effort and is made up of Makena Cowan, Ryli Cherry, Hailey Bogar, Kaylin Olivera and Lilinoe Elam-Fonohema.
“We emphasize defense and passing that helps us set up counter attack goals,” explained Coach Bradley, an All-American on the undefeated, state champion 1999 Fenwick High School team from Oak Park, Illinois, who is assisted by Zach Johnson this season. “There are so many strong swimmers on this team that we can wear our opponents down and breakaway in the second half of matches. But our main concern is team defense, then passing and then everything falls into place after that.”
The MIL regular season runs through mid-April with the postseason tournament set for April 20-22, and the state playoffs to be held May 3-6 on Oahu at the U.H. Manoa facility.
“I am really pleased with the enthusiasm and personality of this team, and therefore very grateful to their parents and families for their support. It is exciting and fun to be a part of this program and the way we are backed up by Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch and Trainers Jon Conrad and Helen Hetzel. And it is really amazing how the staff here at the Lahaina Aquatic Center goes above and beyond to always make us feel at home. We really appreciate everyone’s support,” concluded Coach Bradley.