Bears clinch MIL golf title
KAANAPALI – This time, no playoff is necessary. The Baldwin High School boys golf team made sure of that on a rainy Friday at the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course.
The Bears rode a solid team effort led by an even-par 37 from sophomore Tyler Munetake, who recovered from a triple bogey on the first hole, and a 1-over 38 by senior Jameson Keiley to defeat Lahainaluna 158-175.
The win finishes a 10-0 run to the Maui Interscholastic League team title for Baldwin, while Lahainaluna (8-2) was trying to force an 18-hole playoff for the crown. The Bears lost a playoff last season to Kamehameha Maui, the third time in five seasons that a playoff decided the boys championship.
“It just feels really good after what happened last year,” Munetake said.
With Cassy Isagawa, a University of Oregon All-American and former state champion for Baldwin, in the small gallery, the Bears beat the Lunas for the second time in three days, this time on Lahainaluna’s home course.
“It was on our minds because we definitely didn’t want to go through what we did last year,” Munetake said. “We just didn’t want to experience that again.”
It was a message Baldwin coach Buff Burton made sure his troops were aware of.
“He talked to us,” Munetake said. “He was, like, ‘Yeah, you guys remember the feelings. I don’t think you guys want to go through that again, so go out there and do your best.’ “
Munetake birdied the par-4, 421-yard third hole, but then bogeyed the fourth. On the final five holes, he was 4-under par.
“I got off to a rough start,” he said. “After the triple, I was, like, ‘I just have got to pull it together, finish strong, play as hard as I could.’ “
Burton guided the Bears to the first MIL title of his six-year career – he lost twice in playoffs, to St. Anthony in 2008 and last year. He didn’t want to think about the possibility of another one this season.
The Bears other counting scores were 41s by Ariel Hanson and Justin Ota. Their fifth player was Nathaniel Idica, at 43.
“That’s awesome, that’s awesome, I’m proud of them. I don’t know what to say, man,” Burton said. “Wow. First title, six years.”
Burton re-emphasized his week-long message immediately before the match.
“Just get it out of the way,” Burton said. “I told them when we got here today that, ‘We came here to do something today. Bring it home.’ They did, they played good, man.”
Keiley will have bragging rights over two older brothers who played for Burton.
“Jameson can say something that his other brothers can’t – he’s an MIL champ,” Burton said. “So that’s pretty good, yeah? What a feeling, man, what a feeling, what a feeling.”
The Lunas, MIL champions with a playoff win in 2011, were led by senior Malu Rosenthal, who had a 38 after signing a golf scholarship agreement with Warner Pacific College (Portland, Ore.) last week. Lucas Bell had a 43, while Rhett Wiseman and Jake Horton each had 47s. Kerek Franz carded a non-scoring 54.
“Baldwin played really well today, especially with the weather, there was a lot of wind, a little bit of rain to factor in there,” Lahainaluna coach Sutee Nitakorn said. “For them to come out here on a course that they don’t play that often and to play that well, I’m very impressed.”
The David Ishii Foundation boys and girls state tournaments will be played at Royal Kaanapali in May.
The MIL boys and girls individual titles will be on the line over five 18-hole rounds in April.
“All those playoffs show how deep the league is and how tight everything is,” Nitakorn said. “I think this format is great, a lot of head-to-head, a lot of team pride factors into it. The intensity of these matches works to be ready for the state tournament.”
* KAMEHAMEHA MAUI BOYS 183, MAUI HIGH 186: At Waiehu Municipal Golf Course, Lucas Park shot a 41 and Jacob Puu had a 43 for the Warriors (2-8).
Kanalu Steward had a 45 and Kalei Stanish carded a 54 for Kamehameha Maui.
Zachary Taylor fired a 39 for the Sabers (3-7). Ian Bingham had a 47 and Chase Baker and Marvyn Guillermor both had 50s.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com