Warriors, Spartans secure MIL crowns

Seabury Hall boys, Kamehameha Maui mixed crews take titles with third wins; King Kekaulike girls earn rare victory

Kamehameha Schools Maui’s Healani Tolentino (left) hugs Hoala Alapai after the Warriors clinched the Maui Interscholastic League varsity mixed title Saturday at Hanakaoo (Canoe) Beach Park. - The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

LAHAINA — King Kekaulike High School’s Makanahele Emmsley looked up at the finish line alongside her girls paddling crew in disbelief Saturday at the Maui Interscholastic League canoe regatta No. 4 at Hanakaoo (Canoe) Beach Park.

“I didn’t see anyone near us and nobody was even competing with us,” Emmsley said. “I was so excited, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh the finish line is right there and nobody is even by us.’

“We all screamed at the end and held hands because we didn’t believe it.”

Na Alii’s crew of Emmsley, her younger sister, Kuaola, Jennea Nagura, Skyler Sands, Wailupe Subega and Kamakana Kawaa took first in 4 minutes, 16.60 seconds, finishing 6.57 seconds ahead of Kamehameha Maui. Defending state champion Seabury Hall took third in 4:27.03.

King Kekaulike’s victory leaves the girls title up for grabs in the last regatta of the season next weekend at Kahului Harbor. The Spartans’ boys crew, however, locked up its fourth straight MIL crown, while Kamehameha Maui claimed its first mixed league title since 2009 — both clinching crews won for the third time this season on Saturday.

Seabury Hall’s David Coulombe (front) and Noah Garcia are congratulated by teammates on shore after the Spartans won the MIL boys title. - The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

The Na Alii crew had placed sixth and fifth at the first two meets of the season, but moved up junior varsity paddlers Kawaa, Sands and Kuaola Emmsley for the third regatta. While last week’s meet was determined unsanctioned due to the false ballistic missile alarm scare, the crew won the race and sought to prove it was not a fluke Saturday.

“Overall those were the six strongest girls on the team so I figured let’s throw them in a boat together and see what they can do — and they did it,” King Kekaulike coach Flo Michelier said — he noted that he believes this is Na Alii’s first varsity win in over a decade.

“I’m over the moon right now for my girls,” Michelier said. “They deserve it. They put in the work and I can’t be more happy for them. I’m jonesin’ right now for them.”

Kawaa, a sophomore, said the race was her best ever as a steersman with their ama perfectly “kissing the bouy” on their turn.

“I was freaking out at first, but once we started all those nerves went away and I was pushing my girls to do their best,” she said. “When we crossed the finish line it was the best feeling ever.”

King Kekaulike paddlers Kuaola Emmsley, Makanahele Emmsley and Jennea Nagura celebrate their victory in the varsity girls race with Nalu Sampson on Saturday. - The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Kamehameha Maui’s victory knocks off the Spartans, who had won the last two state titles and the last eight MIL crowns. The Warriors crew of Triston-Hookele Santos, Rafael Adolpho, Joshua Kailiehu, Healani Tolentino, Liana Vasconcellos and Hoala Alapai took first in 3:55.22 — about four seconds faster than Seabury Hall. King Kekaulike took third in 4:22.73.

“It feels great. I think that was our best race we’ve had all year,” Adolpho said. “It’s good to be back on top and it’s so amazing to spend time with all these guys and bond to have a better crew.”

Warriors coach Robert Brede said he was proud of his team and overcoming the emotions of this week’s races. He said he focused more on the mixed crew to sew up the league title.

“I just told them emotions are not going to win this race,” Brede said. “It’s all of you guys and your mana that make your canoe move faster.”

While the school’s last mixed state title was in 2006, the crew took third last year and returns Adolpho, Santos and Alapai.

Crews in the varsity mixed race take off from the starting line. - The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

“I’m actually a bit scared,” Adolpho said. “We have this reputation now. I don’t know how it feels being one of the top guys now.”

The Spartan’s championship boys crew of Noah Garcia, Haena Balinbin, David Coulombe, Kainalu Kubo, Rieley O’Conner and Dylan Newbro crossed the finish in 3:42:15 — about nine seconds faster than Kamehameha Maui. King Kekaulike placed third in 3:56:33.

“I was so sick to my stomach going out for that final race,” Newbro said. “I’ve paddled internationally, but no matter what it is I always get sick to my stomach and butterflies. But as soon as we start going out it just all goes away.”

The crew will prepare for the state championship where they have finished runner-up behind Punahou the past two seasons.

“I feel like we have the depth this year that we didn’t have in the past,” Newbro said. “We’ve always had good boys, but we’re a school of 400 and Punahou has so many more people over us. They can have six new people jump into each crew. We haven’t had that in the past, but I feel like for once we have the ability to switch out people and hold our own against a bigger school.”

As for the MIL girls title, it appears up for grabs. The Farmers took the first regatta and the Warriors won the second.

“They need to get their acts together and stop worrying about everybody else,” Molokai coach Stefanie Hubbard said of her team. “They worry too much about what’s going on outside of the boat. Once we can get that squared away we’ll be fine.

* Chris Sugidono is at csugidono@mauinews.com.



Saturday’s Results

At Hanakaoo (Canoe) Beach Park


Girls–1. King Kekaulike (Jennea Nagura, Kuaola Emmsley, Skyler Sands, Makanahele Emmsley, Wailupe Subega, Kamakana Kawaa) 4:16:60, 2. Kamehameha Maui 4:23:17, 3. Seabury Hall 4:27:03, 4. Molokai 4:30:44, 5. Maui High 4:38:14, 6. Lahainaluna 5:04:03.

Boys–1. Seabury Hall (Noah Garcia, Haena Balinbin, David Coulombe, Kainalu Kubo, Rieley O’Conner, Dylan Newbro) 3:42:15, 2. Kamehameha Maui 3:51:42, 3. King Kekaulike 3:56:33, 4. Lahainaluna 4:04:60, 5. Maui High 4:21:86, 6. Kihei Charter 4:24:88.

Mixed–1. Kamehameha Maui (Triston-Hookele Santos, Rafael Adolpho, Joshua Kailiehu, Healani Tolentino, Liana Vasconcellos, Hoala Alapai) 3:55:22, 2. Seabury Hall 3:59:11, 3. King Kekaulike 4:22:73, 4. Lahainaluna 4:23:49, 5. Baldwin 4:29:03, 6. Lanai 4:52:28.

Junior varsity

Girls–1. King Kekaulike 2:02:88, 2. Lahainaluna 2:04:31, 3. Seabury Hall 2:08:46, 4. Kihei Charter 2:08:83, 5. Baldwin 2:11:31, 6. Maui Prep 2:13:20.

Boys–1. Baldwin 1:47:73, 2. Kamehameha Maui 1:48:45, 3. Seabury Hall 1:49:2, 4. Kihei Charter 1:56:96

Mixed–1. Seabury Hall 1:53:68, 2. Kamehameha Maui 1:54:42, 3. Kihei Charter 1:55:17, 4. Baldwin 1:56:95, 5. King Kekaulike 1:59:61.