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Volner, Cantere race to MIL cross country titles

Maui High's Kaimana Cantere pulls away on his way to winning Saturday's boys varsity cross country championship race at Baldwin High. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — Taking home gold medals from the Maui Interscholastic League cross country championships felt extra special for Seabury Hall’s Kaylee Volner and Maui High’s Kaimana Cantere.

After missing last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and experiencing ongoing uncertainty for this year’s races, the pair of seniors were really soaking in the moment on Saturday during the award ceremony on Baldwin’s campus.

“It feels so surreal, like, I’ve been working so hard this season and even through COVID I never stopped and I had the best teammates who kept me pushing,” said Volner, who won the girls race with a time of 19 minutes, 14.3 seconds on the 5-kilometer course. “I’m so grateful that we actually had a season this year and I get to go on to states with this great team.”

Cantere, who won the boys race in 17:23.9, has been looking forward to this day for a long time.

“I had the dream of taking the torch to one day become the MIL champ just like the rest, like Hunter (Shields), and it really means a lot to me because I trained so hard for this moment and the outcome is what I wanted today,” he said.

Seabury Hall's Kaylee Volner runs to an MIL girls championship win Saturday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Shields, the 2019 MIL and state champion for Maui High, and brother Rylie came to Saturday’s meet to show support for their former Sabers teammates, which “gave me a little motivation to have a stronger finish,” Cantere said.

“Man, it was good to hear them and see them,” he said.

In the girls race, Spartans sophomore Layne Millen finished second with a time of 21:08.5, and Kihei Charter’s Tanya Kari (21:55.5) earned bronze.

Among the boys, Kamehameha’s Brayden Joaquin (18:49.5) outlasted Molokai’s Namaka Ross (18:51.7) for second place.

“I’m exhausted, but that was my goal coming into this, was getting the silver, so I’m satisfied,” said Joaquin, a senior who is racing in his first cross country season.

The Spartans won their 15th MIL girls team championship with 38 points, but it was a close race with the Tiger Sharks, who finished with 41 points. The Sabers placed third with 65 points.

The Maui High boys took home the overall crown with 28 points, making it their seventh straight MIL crown. Seabury was only a few points behind with 34 points, while Lanai had 73.

Sabers head coach Jared Welch credited the victory to the team’s hard work and willingness to train despite event cancellations and delays throughout the pandemic.

“Our boys worked extra hard and Seabury had a really good race,” Welch said. “Because of what’s been going on the past couple years and not knowing what was going to happen, I’m happy we were able to maintain a level of success.”

He added that he’s proud overall of what the Sabers “have done for the team and the program” as they now move on to represent the MIL at the HHSAA Cross Country Championships next Saturday at Hawaii Prep.

The top 32 boys and top 32 girls from the league championship will compete against the state’s best runners, which is something that Cantere is excited for.

“When I compare myself to the Oahu kids and the Big Island runners, I see that I have competition, so that’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said with a smile. “Me and my family, it’s about competition, we don’t like losing.”

Volner, the 2019 girls state runner-up, said she’s feeling ready.

“I’ve definitely put in a lot of hard work, coach Bobby (Grossman) has been giving me really great workouts and even having my teammates pushing me, I feel really ready for this,” Volner said. “I don’t feel any nerves quite yet, maybe I will in the next week, but I’m just really excited for my last states and just to finish it off.”

MIL Championships

Saturday’s Results • At Baldwin

(Note: Full results will be published

later this week in The Maui News)

Girls

Team–1. Seabury Hall 38, 2. Kihei Charter 41, 3. Maui High 65, 4. Kamehameha Maui 107, 5. King Kekaulike 109, 6. Baldwin 127.

Top finishers–1. Kaylee Volner, Seabury, 19:14.3; 2. Layne Millen, Seabury, 21:08.5; 3. Tanya Kari, Kihei Charter, 21:55.5; 4. Selena Castro, Baldwin, 22:49.2; 5. Kayla Ratte, Seabury, 23:12.7; 6. Kailani Bicoy, Molokai, 24:20.1; 7. Layla James, Kihei, 24:20.9; 8. Ellison Shapiro, Kihei, 24:25.9; 9. Kyla Mira, Maui High, 24:41.0; 10. Ashley Tarasenko, Maui High, 24:49.8.

Boys

Team–1. Maui High 28, 2. Seabury Hall 34, 3. Lanai 73.

Top finishers–1. Jared Cantere, Maui High, 17:23.9; 2. Brayden Joaquin, KS Maui, 18:49.5; 3. Namaka Ross, Molokai, 18:51.7; 4. Jacob Romero, Seabury, 18:58.0; 5. Aidan Javier, Kihei, 19:01.6; 6. Sage Ryden, Seabury, 19:03.7; 7. Micah Brighton, Seabury, 19:07.9; 8. Galen Okamoto, Maui High, 19:08.8; 9. Maxwell Anklam, Maui High, 19:15.2; 10. Mason Anklam, Maui High, 19:18.1.

* Dakota Grossman is at dgrossman@mauinews.com

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