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Cantere, Volner pick up victories at season-opening Baldwin Invitational

MIL runners grateful to be able to represent their schools again

Maui High School’s Kaimana Cantere (left) grabs the lead at the start on his way to winning Saturday’s boys cross country race at the Baldwin Invitational at Baldwin High School. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

WAILUKU– Being able to represent their high schools during the season’s first Maui Interscholastic League cross country meet brought a sense of relief and excitement on Saturday morning.

During the Baldwin Invitational at Baldwin High School — where Maui High’s Kaimana Cantere and Seabury Hall’s Kaylee Volner earned wins in the boys and girls races, respectively — MIL runners competed in their uniforms for the first time since 2019 after last season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s good to have everybody back. We may not have some teammates from the (previous season), but we just have to follow in their footsteps,” said Sabers senior Cantere, who finished the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 56.12 seconds. “The excitement was great. I wasn’t too happy with my time, but it’s only the first race and we can always improve later on.”

The Valley Isle Track Club races, which were launched earlier this year as an alternative to MIL-sanctioned events, helped Cantere to stay in some shape during the extended layoff, but “it’s still very different” because now there are more athletes repping a variety of school colors.

“There’s different excitement, there’s different feelings and emotions,” he said. “Club was a way to keep the race spirit in you, and it definitely helped me today, but it’s just great to have everyone here.”

Seabury Hall’s Kaylee Volner builds an early lead at the start of Saturday’s girls cross country race.

In the Central Maui humidity, senior Nakama Ross snagged second place for Molokai, which had just three runners in the boys race, with a time of 19:10.00. Seabury’s Jacob Romero, a freshman, followed closely behind in 19:22.94 for third.

“It definitely feels great and it’s an amazing opportunity, especially because we haven’t been able to race for the past two years,” said Ross, adding that the Farmers are trying to get a few more runners for a scoring team by the end of the season.

The senior said with a laugh that he felt “really out of shape,” much like many of the runners noted on Saturday, but his goal is to eventually “become a champion” as training kicks back in.

Volner, the 2019 state runner-up as a sophomore, won the girls race in 20:11.47, leading the pack by about two minutes. Baldwin’s Selena Castro finished second in 22:26.44 followed by Layne Millen of Seabury, who ran a 22:56.15.

“If feels really great to be back with ‘Seabury’ on my chest– I was really hoping that I’d be able to come to this for my senior year with everything going on with COVID and I’m just so grateful and so excited to see how we do today and throughout the season,” Volner said. “It’s crazy because, we did club cross country but mainly it was just some of my teammates and I running, so now it’s nice to be able to cheer everybody on and even having the other teams cheering us on even though we really don’t know each other, but we all just love the sport, so it’s fun.”

Molokai’s Namaka Ross leads Kihei Charter’s Felix Velasquez in Saturday’s boys race.

Volner added that she’s working toward a state championship crown this season as well as to help lead the girls to a team victory, whether that be a 15th MIL title or a state title.

“I’ll just be really grateful for whatever happens,” she said.

And it seems as though they got off to a good start as the Lady Spartans won the team competition on Saturday with 22 points. The Sabers finished second with 53 points, followed by Kamehameha Maui (67) and King Kekaulike (68).

In the boys division, Maui High came out on top with 23 points, Seabury followed with 32 points, and Baldwin had 63.

Considering that the Sabers have a lot of new faces this year, head coach Jared Welch said that “I was really proud of how they did.”

Girls runner-up Selena Castro of Baldwin runs Saturday.

“It was good, I’m happy with how today went because of all the ‘who knows’ and ‘what ifs,’ “ Welch said. “Some of these guys have been working out off and on for two years, at least. Like Kaimana, I told him that ‘you’ve worked harder than everybody else in the state and maybe they’ve done as much work, but you’ve done it on your own.’ So for them to finally come out here and do something meaningful and get to realize what they’ve done that work for is something to be appreciated.”

For Seabury coach Bobby Grossman, he was proud of the Spartans’ young boys squad, which is made up of all freshman runners that had their first taste of MIL cross country on Saturday.

“They have a bright future,” Grossman said. “They work hard, they enjoy themselves, they’re positive when it comes to running. In a couple years, if they stick together, they’re going to be a top state team.”

Though there were some frustrations and fatigue earlier this month regarding ongoing restrictions on how to conduct the meets amid the pandemic, the coaching staff, officials and athletes were happy to resume any “normalcy.”

Welch’s pre-race talk to the Sabers included conversations about taking “pride in the fact that you get to put the uniform on and be grateful that you get to put a uniform on and be here.”

No spectators were allowed at the event, but cars were spotted lining the fence along the upper road and around the perimeter of the campus in hopes to watch their kids run.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino on Friday updated the public health emergency rules to allow outdoor social gatherings and spectators at outdoor events of up to 25 people per group.

Details regarding how this might affect MIL sporting events will be released early this week, possibly in time for the next cross country meet, which will be held Saturday at Seabury Hall.

“It felt really good to be out here today and to have the team experience,” Grossman said. “The uniform is big because we’ve done some (club) cross country events but it’s high school and trying to get these kids a high school experience, and coaches, and everybody that was involved in it, we had a good time today.”

* Dakota Grossman is at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

Baldwin Invitational

Saturday’s Results

At Baldwin

BOYS

Team–Maui High 23, Seabury Hall 32, Baldwin 63.

Individual–1. Jared Cantere, Maui High, 17:56.12; 2. Namaka Ross, Molokai, 19:10.00; 3. Jacob Romero, Seabury Hall, 19:22.94; 4. Micah Brighton, Seabury Hall, 19:23.78; 5. Jacob Hinfey, Maui High, 19:44.88; 6. Aidan Javier, Kihei Charter, 20:13.88; 7. Sage Ryden, Seabury Hall, 20:22.91; 8. Jericho Adolpho, Molokai, 20:29.62; 9. Galen Okamoto, Maui High, 20:33.41; 10. Maxwell Anklam, Maui High, 20:37.00; 11. Bazel Potratz, Seabury Hall, 20:37.37; 12. Arjei Paet, Baldwin, 20:49.84; 13. Felix Velasquez, Kihei Charter, 20:51.88; 14. Jayden Fontanilla, Baldwin, 21:08.91; 15. Timothy James Heile, Lahainaluna, 21:27.56; 16. Travis Delos Santos, Baldwin, 21:59.31; 17. Justin Swann, Maui High, 22:53.15; 18. Byron Ellis, Kihei Charter, 22:57.72; 19. Gaige Okamoto, Maui High, 23:04.28; 20. Noa Donohue, Seabury Hall, 23:16.50; 21. Zach Bush, Seabury Hall, 23:41.15; 22. Alex Guerrero, King Kekaulike, 23:43.28; 23. Aaron Guerrero, St. Anthony, 23:58.56; 24. Jason Rodriguez Esquival, Maui High, 24:02.59; 25. Casey Talana, Baldwin, 25:34.88; 26. Dashiel Philbrook, Baldwin, 26:12.38; 27. Noah Kalehuawehe, Kamehameha Maui, 26:36.00; 28. Kahoku Duarte, Kamehameha Maui, 26:54.50; 29. Kalaheo Sakamoto, Kamehameha Maui, 27:20.25; 30. Johnson Harris, Molokai, 28:09.59; 31. Norlito Ranchez, Maui High, 28:13.18.

GIRLS

Team–Seabury Hall 22, Maui High 53, Kamehameha Maui 67, King Kekaulike 68.

Individual–1. Kaylee Volner, Seabury Hall, 20:11.47; 2. Selena Castro, Baldwin, 22:26.44; 3. Layne Millen, Seabury Hall, 22:56.15; 4. Tanya Kari, Kihei Charter, 23:13.97; 5. Rylee Stout, Seabury Hall, 24:43.91; 6. Kayla Bush, Seabury Hall, 25:38.56; 7. Ashley Tarasenko, Maui High, 25:45.59; 8. Kailani Bicoy, Molokai, 26:01.15; 9. Haley Mahoe, Lahainaluna, 26:36.34; 10. Charlotte O’Brien, Kihei Charter, 26:54.34; 11. Devon Hardy, King Kekaulike, 26:55.09; 12. Leilani Portillo, Kihei Charter, 26:56.09; 13. Lynn Pustelnik, St. Anthony, 27:01.78; 14. Kadence Merritt, Kamehameha Maui, 27:32.15; 15. Mareea Casio, Maui High, 27:57.88; 16. Shelby Kubo, Baldwin, 28:09.31; 17. Kyla Mira, Maui High, 28:21.28; 18. Nicole Riemenschneider, King Kekaulike, 28:30.62; 19. Jenna Boggs, Baldwin, 28:32.50; 20. Shanti Rae Visaya, Kamehameha Maui, 29:02.53; 21. Sunny Barresi, Seabury Hall, 29:15.66; 22. Alexis-Ann Decambra, King Kekaulike, 29:44.53; 23. Karissa Chapman, Kamehameha Maui, 29:59.41; 24. Cailyn Omuro, Maui High, 30:32.47; 25. Kulamanu Grindling, Maui High, 30:43.28; 26. Melanie Fontanilla, Baldwin, 30:43.72; 27. Rihanna Vega, Maui High, 31:13.66; 28. Hi’ileiakaua Kehano, Kamehameha Maui, 31:39.91; 29. Emily Sloper, Kamehameha Maui, 31:52.56; 30. Sundi King, Kihei Charter, 32:32.06; 31. Giullia Porter, King Kekaulike, 32:33.31; 32. Layla Racadio, Kamehameha Maui, 32:41.56; 33. Madison Strand, King Kekaulike, 32:42.02; 34. Kiana Downs, St. Anthony, 32:49.12; 35. Tenley Akutagawa, Molokai, 32:50.00; 36. Caroline Sloper, Kamehameha Maui, 37:20.25.

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