NAPILI - For Maui Preparatory Academy student athletes, water sports take the lead during the mid-school year months as swimming and canoe paddling dominate the athletic agenda at the Napili independent school.
Led by ten-year veteran coach Mike "Tex" Ritter, the Pueo swim team has made its mark in the Maui Interscholastic League with outstanding performances by several team members.
Team captains Coleman Kingwell, Jessica Kingwell and Nolan Lehman have provided leadership while junior standout Kysha Altura continues to rise to the top of the MIL and the state ladder in qualifying in all individual events and relays. Coleman is right there alongside of his teammate in multiple events and relays, as are all of the Maui Prep relay teams.
Maui Preparatory Academy looks to send ten swimmers to the state championships on Feb. 10-11 on Oahu.
"We're planning on sending ten swimmers to the state championships on February 10-11 on Oahu," noted coach Mike, who is assisted by Arielle Shore and Jennifer Goode this season. "We have a balanced training year, including rigorous dry land work, yoga and concentrated swim sets. We will culminate our year on Maui with the MIL championships on February 3-4 and then at states the following week. Mahalo to the school and the parents for their support."
The swim team roster includes seniors Lehman, Jessica and Coleman Kingwell, Jonah Bluh, Zachariah Giles, Elizabeth James, Sophia Johnston, Alexa Narayan and Emma Scott; juniors Kysha Altura, Danielle Bergson and Akiva Bluh; sophomores Rebecca Geng and Yijie Wang; and first-year swimmers Olivia Bozich, Irie Gonah, Dylan Smart, Wilson Tinkler and Gabriela Wells.
From the Lahaina Aquatic Center to the shores at Canoe Beach, the Pueo move into the traditional Hawaiian sport of canoe paddling, led by fourth-year coach Paul Sakas and assistant Genevieve Ruvald. This Pueo program is supported by Kahana Canoe Club in providing access to the equipment - including the canoes and paddles - and the practice facilities at the site.
According to Coach Ruvald, the Pueo paddlers have shown tremendous improvement over the course of the season, with the varsity girls, mixed, and JV boys crews gaining momentum leading into the final MIL and state qualifying events.
"With over half the team new to the sport, we had to start with basic technique and started with a foundation of knowledge. The student athletes are getting stronger and gaining valuable confidence. We can't wait to see what the end of the season brings," she said.
"We extend our appreciation to Kahana Canoe Club for their ongoing support of not only Maui Prep, but for their ongoing support of youth paddling on the West Side. Paddling has positively impacted the lives of so many student athletes, and we could not have a program without the support of Kahana Canoe Club."
The Pueo canoe paddling team is made up of seniors Jonathan Jerome, Lexie Leon, Layla Nabavi, Cole Nielson and Sarah Wilhelm; juniors Vittoria Barone, Momoko Kawahara, Thuy Ngo and Griffin Sagar; sophomores Ni Ketut, Ellen Damayanti, Jakob Nussbaum, Logan Twigg and Nicholas Ulery; and first-year paddlers Makana Boote, Kai Gatchell, Griffin Gibson, Kassidy Howeth, Aislyn Jewett and Malia Paulino.