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Lahainaluna spring sports teams hoping for green light to compete

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Apr 23, 2021

The girls golf team includes (from left) Gretchen Olson, Nalani Kirkman, Nolita Samisoni and Emma Higa (Jackie Nguyen, Camryn Straka and Maya Vaas are not pictured).

LAHAINA — The spring high school sports programs across the state remain on hold as the 2020-21 seasons wait in the on deck circle for the opportunity to compete. But as the pandemic continues to forestall interscholastic competition, the chances for any start up grow dimmer by the day.

Here on the West Side, however, a sense of optimism prevails. In particular, the Lahainaluna High School golf teams keep their drives alive led by coach/mentors Sutee Nitakorn and Peter Villatora.

Nitakorn, the director of golf at Kaanapali, coaches the boys team, and Villatora, director of engineering at the Marriott, heads up the Lady Lunas program.

“We have a large group this year,” said Villatora last week. “They are very dedicated, and most of them have played in the Lahaina Junior Golf program. We told them to practice on their own — wearing masks all the time –go over rules and strategy; things like that. We’re working on getting the needed permits and waiting on getting the okay from the DOE.”

The Lady Lunas roster includes senior Nalani Kirkman; juniors Gretchen Olson, Nolita Samisoni and Jacqueline Nguyen; and first-year players s Emmaleilikolani Higa, Camryn Straka and Maya Vaas. Nitakorn, the 15-year director of the world-renowned Kaanapali Golf Course, described the Luna boys team as comprised by skilled, young players and ready to begin a rebuilding season.

“We are definitely a young team, but these are student-athletes that have come up through the Lahaina Junior Golf program and are on course to have a breakthrough season,” he said.

Junior Kai Claydon heads up the boys roster and is joined by sophomores Ian Chapital, Joa Navarro, Andrew Nguyen and Makoa Palau Agdeppa.

Both coaches acknowledged the support of Kaanapali Golf, as well as Kapalua Director Alex Nakajima, Joel Navarro, Scott Soldwisch, Ben Hongo, Thatwat Metharonarath and the entire Lahaina community.

Over on the baseball diamond, the Luna team is in the same waiting mode.

Coach Danton Hong reports that the team is still hopeful, despite the chances getting slimmer as time runs out on the spring sports season.

“We’ve been staying in shape, and our roster of players are ready to play anytime,” said Coach Danton. “And I really want to express our appreciation to everyone who supports the Lahainaluna High School baseball program.”

The Lunas coaching staff includes veteran youth baseball mentors Darren Opunui, Kaleo Medeiros, Rodney Haia, Emmet Markulis, Harry Flores, Jeff Felice, Jamie Smythe, Messiah Manalili and Kaimana Ancog.

The player roster consists of seniors Liam Chadli, James Smythe and Ekolu Mathias; juniors Kealaula Medeiros, Vincent Imamura, Tony Felice, Nephi Hong, Ryan Pagdilao, Zyrome I’i Kahahane and Joshua Satterlee; sophomores Aiden Arnise and Aukai Hokoano; and freshmen Lyrik Kahula and Jaylyn Bloomfield.

Correction: Sophomore Sisilia Hafoka is currently a member of the Lahainaluna High School softball team. The Lahaina News sports desk apologizes for the omission in last week’s article.