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Forty Lahainaluna High School students competing in outrigger canoe paddling

By Staff | Jan 23, 2020

The MIL season runs through Feb. 1 for the Lahainaluna High School paddlers, and the Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Regatta is scheduled for Feb. 8 in Honolulu.

LAHAINA – At all of the smaller schools in the Maui Interscholastic League, student-athletes are faced with the dilemma of choosing a sport in the winter months that fits their preferences and schedules. Soccer and wrestling usually are the top choices, so at campuses like Lahainaluna, outrigger canoe paddling might struggle to attract big numbers from the talent pool.

The Lunas’ roster started the season with some 60 paddlers signed up, with a large percentage of them having experience in the summer club competition, but attrition from other sports and cultural activities like hula have pared that number down to 40.

“Many of the kids paddle with the club teams in the summertime, but now a lot of them want to play soccer, wrestle, softball or dance hula, so the kids’ interest is spread out,” said Courtney Asato, a veteran coach who mentors the Luna program with Manny Portables, Bear Keahi, Halii Vierra, Iwa Bryant and Nalu Sampson.

“Most of them we have in the club season with Napili Canoe Club,” added Coach Court last week. “So they have some experience with canoe paddling.”

Practices are held four days a week down at Hanakao’o Beach Park (Canoe Beach), and the Luna team is sponsored by Napili Canoe Club – the organization that most of the coaches and student-athletes grew up in the sport with.

The season consists of five inshore regattas – each hosted by a different MIL school. New additions this year are long distance races of two miles for the junior varsity crews and four miles for the varsity girls and boys.

The 2019-20 Lahainaluna paddling team was led by seniors Shannon Aguinalo, Lele Oliveira, Daelisa Westbrooks, Kaiulani Tanner, Logan Hanohano, Nalani Sampson, Kapua Nakoa, Taylor Ganer, Peter Hansen and Kaihulali Casco.

The team also includes juniors Justin Kaupe, Treven Tihada, Sean Freitas and Jacinda Jackson; sophomores Puliki Rogers, James Johnson, Jadyn Neary, Maile Cacal, Kaili Casco, Shaun Kana, Kaelan Potter, Dylan Takahashi Sagapolutele, David Aquino and Ayasha Jackson; and first-year paddlers Healani Kanekoa, Maurii Niles Cantero, Keana Medeiros Sodetani, Riely Holder, Pakana Makaiwi, David Jackson, Kalianah Phillips, Bryce Worth, Kamaile Morton, Kiana Kaina, Aiden Brown, Hailey Chang and Anu Naki.

“We really appreciate the support of Napili Canoe Club, as they allow us to use the canoes, paddles and the club house facilities. Thanks also to Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch and Trainers Jon Conrad and Becca Cohen for all they do,” concluded Coach Courtney.