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Bears make history with state cheerleading title

Baldwin becomes first Neighbor Island team to win large division crown

The Baldwin High School cheerleading team poses with its championship trophy and gold medals after winning the large-division title at the Zippy’s/HHSAA State Championships on Saturday at Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. KEALII MOLINA photo

After coming close for the last three years, the Baldwin High School cheerleading squad made history on Saturday by winning the large division title in the Zippy’s/HHSAA State Cheerleading Championships at Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.

It is the first large division crown — which is for squads with 12 or more members — for any Neighbor Island team in the 19-year history of the event.

Kamehameha Maui won medium division state crowns in 2013 and 2014.

Baldwin coach Kealii Molina led the Bears to second place in the large division in 2016 and third in 2017, and second in the medium division last year. He took over four years ago from veteran Baldwin coach Joann Yap.

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Molina said via phone Saturday afternoon. “Joann Yap has been with Baldwin forever and she’s been trying for 20 years and now we finally got it.”

The Baldwin cheerleading squad comes down the escalator at Kahului Airport after arriving home Sunday. Liann Magsayo photo

The Bears have 14 competitors, but one was injured for the state tournament. They had six seniors on the roster, and Molina said they were instrumental in leading the way to victory.

“They worked so hard, we’ve been trying for so long — I’ve been trying at Baldwin for four years to win the state title,” he said. “We’ve come so close every time. A lot of the seniors started with me at Baldwin four years ago, so they wanted it. They were hungry. They were tired of second place.”

The Bears scored 346.5 points to outdistance Mililani by 11.25 points in the large division.

Sacred Hearts won the medium division with 355.75 points. Kamehameha Maui was 11th in the medium division with 289.5 points.

The Bears won their fourth straight MIL title last month and will perform this same routine at nationals in Dallas in February.

“It’s awesome for the girls to know that that hard work they put in — they got what they wanted,” Molina said.

He has coached three of the Baldwin seniors since they were 9 years old and all but one of the Bears have worked with Molina at his Hawaii All-Star Cheerleading gym. The Baldwin captains are Madison Murayama and Koalii Kenui.

“They are so happy right now, it’s awesome,” Molina said. “We put the seniors in charge of the whole team … You know, you hear the heart from the seniors.”

The rest of the Baldwin roster includes Chelsie Constantino, Christina Damore, Karah Dean, Sasha Kamaka, Brandi Kamalani, Lea Kashiwamura, Donnelle Leandro, Melina Perez, Teija Sniffen, Makenna Sumibcay, Hilalia Villanueva Langi and Malie Wickes.