The Maui News 2014 MIL Canoe Paddling All-Stars

Mikaela McDaniel and her Seabury Hall teammates weren’t able to repeat as girls state canoe paddling champions, and the Spartans mixed crew was disqualified at the state meet.

McDaniel, however, was proud of what her school was able to accomplish this season.

“People didn’t believe in us when we got to states, primarily our mixed crew, but we did really well at the state championships,” she said. “And having the girls go out there and still come out top three, I can’t even put it into words. We overcame the negativity and didn’t let it touch us.”

McDaniel was voted this year’s Maui Interscholastic League Girls Paddler of the Year by the league’s coaches. Baldwin’s Kyle Knutson was named the top boys paddler.

Joining McDaniel on the girls first team were Seabury Hall teammates Alexis Smith, Ashley Tanga and Mapuana Andrade; Molokai’s Kelsie Espiritu Tanabe and Makaila Kaholoaa; King Kekaulike’s Chante Akana and Brenna Hoonan-Amby; Kamehameha Maui’s Hiilei Casco; and Baldwin’s Brandee Rosalin.

Other members of the boys all-star team were Baldwin’s Kellen Bean, Matt Vanni and Brandon Arisumi; Seabury Hall’s Mogul Luuwai and Nic Colon; Kamehameha Maui’s Kauanoe Vanderpoel and Elijah Wong; King Kekaulike’s Izaiah Manrique; and Maui High’s Hinano Alatasi.

McDaniel, a senior, paddled in five races – three mixed and two girls – in the state regatta at Oahu’s Keehi Lagoon in early February. She was in the No. 4 seat for the girls events and the No. 3 seat for mixed.

The Spartans’ girls crew finished the half-mile race in 4 minutes, 18.39 seconds. Kamehameha Kapalama won the event and Punahou placed second.

Seabury’s mixed crew actually crossed third in the final, but was told afterward it was disqualified for being across the starting line when the race started.

“We really put it all out there and to do well and to have it taken away from you was definitely heartbreaking, especially in my senior year,” McDaniel said. “It was disappointing to say the least.”

During the MIL season, the Spartans girls won four of the five regattas and their mixed crew went undefeated.

Knutson, a senior, was the steersman for the Bears’ boys crew, which finished fourth at the state meet in 3:43.37. During the MIL season, Baldwin won four regattas.

“I’m stoked to be voted MIL paddler of the year,” Knutson said. “There are so many others out there who have great skill.”

He said he enjoyed the responsibility of being the steersman.

“Steering for me is a different aspect of paddling,” Knutson said. “You have to be aware of the conditions of the race and making the turns. It’s more exciting than regular paddling. There are more things you have to do.”

Knutson said Baldwin was determined to do well this season.

“Coming into the season we were more motivated than last year,” he said. “My sophomore year, Baldwin won the MIL championships. Junior year, we had a good crew, but we weren’t able to take advantage of the potential we had. We knew we had potential to win this season and it allowed us to have a greater drive to succeed.”

The MIL Boys Coach of the Year was Seabury Hall’s Paul Luuwai and the Girls Coach of the Year was Molokai’s Tania Kaholoaa.

* Kyle Sakamoto is at