The Maui News 2017 MIL Water Polo All-Stars

All about the team: Buenrostro-Gallimore earns top honor after helping lead Bears to MIL title

Rebecca Buenrostro-Gallimore of Baldwin High School scored 45 goals this season as the Bears went undefeated in Maui Interscholastic League play, winning their first title since 2013, and placed fifth in the state tournament. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

While she has been swimming competitively for most of her life, choosing water polo as her primary sport came easily for Baldwin High School’s Rebecca Buenrostro-Gallimore.

It appears the decision is paying off. After tying for the league lead in goals and helping the Bears win their first league title since 2013, Buenrostro-Gallimore is the coaches’ choice as The Maui News Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year.

Buenrostro-Gallimore scored 45 goals as a junior this year, tying fellow first-team All-Star Alicia Wintermeyer of Lahainaluna for the league lead. Baldwin went unbeaten in MIL play and then placed fifth at the state tournament, winning two of three matches, to finish 14-1.

“It means the world to us. We had this vision at the beginning of the season and there was only one way it was going to come true,” Buenrostro-Gallimore said. “It was going to be through all our hard work, waking up early in the morning, coming to practice, swimming, hitting the books in school and really putting out all our hearts in the pool every practice.

“So for us to come out on top is just the best thing that has happened to me in my high school career.”

The Bears, who had been 5-15 in seven previous state appearances, have two other first-team All Stars — Olivia Takakura and Jacsen Donohue.

“It was so awesome being with this group of girls,” said Buenrostro-Gallimore, who scored nine goals in the state tournament. “For us to have a dream together, achieve the dream, and just have the season — the best we’ve ever done in our history — was heartwarming.”

Lahainaluna’s Sydney Wagner and Julia Bianco, and Kamehameha Maui’s Quinn Shiraishi form the rest of the first team.

Baldwin coach Shawn Donohue, the MIL Coach of the Year, said Buenrostro-Gallimore could compete in the NCAA, and perhaps internationally.

Much of that potential stems from Buenrostro-Gallimore’s swimming background. She was second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100 backstroke at the state meet in February, and swam legs on the third-place 200 medley relay and fifth-place 400 free relay.

“The speed that she possesses along with her ability to think quickly and get in and out of situations really impressed me this year,” Donahue said. “That’s what really kind of propelled her, between her speed and her problem-solving skills.”

When she reaches college, swimming workouts will be for water polo only, Buenrostro-Gallimore said. She has been swimming competitively since she was 7 years old.

“I’m definitely going to play water polo, it’s what I love,” she said. “I have to continue it, there’s no other way. … It all comes down to the people you’re with. Swimming is an individual sport and water polo is a team sport.

“It’s great to achieve things by yourself, but I find it’s even better when all of the team achieves something. To share that feeling of happiness, it’s just so much better to share with others than to keep it to yourself.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Second Team

Kiara Espeleta, Baldwin, Junior • Kalena Vaivai, King Kekaulike, Sophomore • Nikki Zamani, Lahainaluna, Junior • Skylar Lickle, Seabury Hall, Junior • Kayla Takakura, Baldwin, Senior • Jena Lei Suzuki, Baldwin, Senior • Erica Sawczynec, Maui High, Senior.

Honorable Mention

Seabury Hall–Lily Pickering. Kamehameha Maui — Tiyanni Mahi, Selafina Ngalu, Victoria Ngalu, Nikki McGuire. King Kekaulike — Grace Maeda, Malia MacDonald, Kiana Correa.

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