Kamehameha Maui Defends MIL Varsity Cheer Crown
By Rodney S. Yap
Kamehameha Schools Maui put up a dominating performance Saturday en route to successfully defending its Maui Interscholastic League Varsity Cheerleading Championship before a crowd of about 750 at Maui High School Gym.
Technically, KS-Maui finished with 288.5 points, just shy of the 290 total it accumulated last year when it snapped Baldwin’s 10-year MIL reign. Lahainaluna scored 253 points out of a possible 375 to claim second place as Baldwin was victimized by three major blunders and finished third place with 197.5 points.
“It feels good, the girls worked really hard,” said Kamehameha Maui head coach Kealii Molina, who is two-for-two since accepting the job with the Warriors in 2011. “It’s nice to have a group of girls working really, really hard to achieve their goals, which is to go to state and to be No. 1 on Maui. I’m proud of them, it’s awesome.”
Kamehameha Maui is led by senior co-captains Mikela Rindlisbacher and Ashley Watson. The juniors on the championship squad are Tiana Guerrero, Malia Molina, Ciana Ruidas and Tyler Rabarra. Ilima Fisher and Kalei Kamalii are sophomores and Ashlee Sawai is a freshman.
Rindlisbacher, Watson, Molina and Ruidas were also members of the 2011 championship team.
The Warriors overcame a miscue in the first 15 seconds of their three-minute routine.
“We practice recovery,” said Molina, who is assisted by long-time coach Ann Saffery, Kealani Castro, and Ashlyn Ross. “So when that happens we have to recover no matter what. One mistake doesn’t determine our faith in the whole routine, you have to keep going, keeping pushing. Everybody knew yeah (we made a mistake), but no matter what we couldn’t make any more mistakes after that. When you have one mistake you have to build (something positive) off that.”
Baldwin won the junior varsity competition with 220.5 points, followed by runner-up Kamehameha Maui’s 210 points and Maui High was third with 133.5 points. Lahainaluna did not have a junior varsity squad and King Kekaulike did not participate.
It was Baldwin’s eighth junior varsity title. The winning squad was made up of Angel Albin, Kailana Cockett, Britney Delima, Isabelle Dougherty, Kaylee Harrington, Jazmyn Hogan, Jovin Kan-Hai, Laurel Malaqui-Sanchez, Chantell Roldan, and Ally Yonahara.
As the top two varsity medal winners, Kamehameha Maui and Lahainaluna will represent the MIL at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Cheerleading Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Neal Blaisdell Arena on Oahu. The event starts at 1 p.m.
The Lunas, who will be making their first state championship appearance since the state competition started in 2001-2002, did not compete in 2011. Although the Lunas have 17 cheerleaders, they chose to compete with seven. The team captains are Taylor Trout and Breea Yamat. Listed as other team members are Karen Galuardo, Sharmaine Gutierrez, Karley Keanini, Kiana Nakoa, Courtney Ruidas, Erica Sanchez, and Kelsey Shultz.
Baldwin, which has finished second at state four times and third three times, will not be competing for the first time in 11 years under head coach Jo-Ann Yap. As the senior MIL cheer coach, Yap coached KS-Maui’s Molina and Saffery when they were high school cheerleaders at St. Anthony.
Last year, Waimea of Kauai earned the medium division state title, becoming the first Neighbor Island team to win a state championship. Kamehameha Maui placed fourth — its highest state finish — in the medium team competition and Baldwin was fifth.
“We’re really happy with the scores, we’re excited, minus the deductions, hopefully we will get this team ready for state and represent Maui,” said Molina, whose club team Hawaii All-Stars claimed a Senior Level 4 national championship at the United Spirit Association All-Star Championships in Anaheim, Calif., last March. “Fourth place last year, so hopefully we’ll step up and do even better this year. There is a lot more difficulty in our routine this year, so a lot harder than last year, but it feels good to defend our (MIL) title, too.”
All four varsity teams competing received MIL championship medals. The Baldwin junior varsity championship girls received MIL ribbons.
Yap assisted Molina at the UCA All-Star Nationals, the pair coached a second team of Senior Level 3 girls that finished 0.09 shy of taking home a second national championship.
Radford High School has won seven consecutive state championships, including last year’s large division and the six previous medium division titles. Kamehameha-Kapalama has dominated the large division at state, winning seven of the last nine competitions between 2003-2010.
The medium division is for teams with up to 10 cheerleaders, and the large for teams with at least 11.
Had King Kekaulike and St. Anthony entered the MIL competition, the league would have had three berths to the state tournament.