More National Hardware for Hawaii All-Star Cheer

March 5, 2014, 9:55 AM HST · Updated March 4, 7:10 PM
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Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders from L4 Small Seniors Division arrived at Kahului Airport Monday with the championship hardware from the prestigious NCA All-Star National Championships in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Ben Juan.

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders from L4 Small Seniors Division arrived at Kahului Airport Monday with the championship hardware from the prestigious NCA All-Star National Championships in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Ben Juan.

By Rodney S. Yap

The best keeps getting better.

Already the most decorated cheer club in the 50th state, the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders returned to Maui on Monday with its latest national championship. This one, however, will be talked about for years.

That’s because the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders claimed its biggest and best prize since opening its doors in Kahului 3 1/2 years ago — the NCA All-Star National Championships.

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The annual event was held in Dallas, Texas last weekend and is the largest all-star cheerleading competition in the world. More than 1,100 all-star teams attended from 41 different states, and five countries.

“This is the biggest competition in the country, there were more than 28,000 athletes,” said Kealii Molina, head coach and owner of the growing Maui-based club, which has managed to garner 13 National Championships and three National Championship runner-up finishes in 16 major competitions. “Since we did so well last year, I wanted to try this competition with this team, because it’s the biggest one. I wanted to give it a try and see how we stand.”

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders Bottom, from left, Ashlee Sawai, Karley Keanini, Breann Joaquin, Chalysse Young U'u, Elysse Phillips, Kayla Sniffen, Krysta Freitas, Kauanoe Keahi, Sami Lei Saribay Left to right top row Courtney Ruidas, Maikela Takamiya, Aileen Rodriguez, Janessa Miguel, Tatiana Thompson, Asia Flores, Kiana Nakoa, Giuliana Ippolitto, Caitlin Villarossa, Taylor Trout, Mishalei Coloma-Mariano

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders, from bottom left: Ashlee Sawai, Karley Keanini, Breann Joaquin, Chalysse Young U’u, Elysse Phillips, Kayla Sniffen, Krysta Freitas, Kauanoe Keahi, and Sami Lei Saribay. Top row, from left, Courtney Ruidas, Maikela Takamiya, Aileen Rodriguez, Janessa Miguel, Tatiana Thompson, Asia Flores, Kiana Nakoa, Giuliana Ippolitto, Caitlin Villarossa, Taylor Trout, Mishalei Coloma-Mariano and head coach Kealii Molina. Photo by Ben Juan.

The cream continues to rise to the top for Hawaii All-Star Cheer, and particularly this group of 20 girls who rehearsed since last May in preparation for their near perfect two-minute routine that turned back 12 other cheer teams in the L4 Small Senior Division.

Competing at the Dallas Convention Center, the Maui team wowed the competition judges, earning a two-day score of 97.20. Cheer South All-Stars from Statesboro, GA., and Thunder Elite Cheer-Shock of Bryan, Texas finished tied for second place with 94.71 points. SoCal Select All-Stars was next with a score of 94.02.

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders' head coach and founder Keallii Molina. Photo by Ben Juan.

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders’ head coach and owner Kealii Molina. Photo by Ben Juan.

“We started practicing in May and our season will run until the end of May. The season for Hawaii just kicked off, but on the mainland there are teams that have competed eight or nine times already in preparation for this competition. This is the big one. We chose to start our season with this event.”

The club’s success is a reflection of Molina’s dedication and commitment to a year-round sport that is physically demanding, but providing young women with more and more college scholarship opportunities.

Hawaii All-Star Cheer is about excellence and the girls who competed at the NCA’s are no strangers to hard work or the big stage. The L4 Small Seniors are made up of girls ranging from 12 to 18 years-old, representing five different schools ­­– Lahaina Intermediate, Lahainaluna, Kamehameha Maui, Baldwin, and Maui High.

“We have two girls from Lahaina Intermediate (7th-graders) and they are kind of more mature for their age, so they can hold their own with the older girls. Noe Keahi is another one but she can hold her own in the tumbling and she does what she needs to do, and Sammy has all the skills to back it up.”

The core of the team is made up of the same team that will be going to the USA All-Star Championships to defend its title for the third consecutive year, March 22-23, in Anaheim, Calif.

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleader Kayla Sniffen flashes the "Shaka" sign at the NCA All-Star National Championships in Dallas, Texas. Photo courtesy of Varsity.com.

Hawaii All-Star Cheerleader Kayla Sniffen flashes the “Shaka” sign at the NCA All-Star National Championships in Dallas, Texas. Photo courtesy of Varsity.com.

National Championship team members include: Ashlee Sawai, Karley Keanini, Breann Joaquin, Chalysse Young U’u, Elysse Phillips, Kayla Sniffen, Krysta Freitas, Kauanoe Keahi, Sami Lei Saribay, Courtney Ruidas, Maikela Takamiya, Aileen Rodriguez, Janessa Miguel, Tatiana Thompson, Asia Flores, Kiana Nakoa, Giuliana Ippolitto, Caitlin Villarossa, Taylor Trout, and Mishalei Coloma-Mariano.

When Molina carried the championship trophies on the plane, the flight attendants were taken back by its size, prompting one of them to say: “That’s the most obnoxious thing I have ever seen.”

Part of the reward for the girls was accepting congratulations from opposing coaches, representing some of the most elite teams in the country.

“Coaches from the bigger programs came over and talked to the girls about how much they were impressed with their routine… I tell the girls that they should not feel like they are not as good as the mainland teams, you’re sharing the same floor as them.”

Believing is achieving, Molina says, “To be the best you have to beat the best.”

“You can go out there and do whatever you want to do, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, as long as you believe you can do it and you push, and you work hard, you can accomplish anything you want.”

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