Seabury Hall’s Mixed Crew Wins State Paddling Title
Seabury Hall enjoyed the Maui Interscholastic League’s best team finish at the state canoe paddling championships Saturday on Oahu.
The Spartans’ mixed team edged Kamehameha and Punahou to prevent an Interscholastic League of Honolulu sweep. The Buffanblu boys repeated as Hawaii High School Athletic Association champion, while the Warriors from Kapalama notched the school’s eighth girls state title and record 18th canoe championship overall.
In addition to the mixed gold medals, the Spartan boys earned silver medals for their second-place finish. The Seabury girls did not go home empty handed, claiming third-place honors. The 1-2-3 finish by the small Upcountry private school was the best showing at a state regatta by an MIL school since the HHSAA sanctioned the sport in 2002.
“In the morning we dominated our heats and had really good times,” said Seabury Hall head coach Paul Luuwai.
Because heat winners automatically advance to the finals, Seabury was able to rest and relax, completely avoiding all loser-bracket races, Luuwai noted.
“Then when it came to the finals we did really well. Some of our girls were really upset because we didn’t win, but the other teams were just better than us.”
A year ago on Maui, Punahou swept the competition with wins in all three divisions.
On Saturday, 26 schools from each of the HHSAA’s five leagues converged at Ke’ehi Lagoon to compete in the 15th Annual First Hawaiian Bank Canoe Paddling State Championships. The 1⁄2‐mile race course runs parallel to shore with buoyed flags marking the lanes as well as the turning point situated a quarter mile from the start/finish line.
“Finally I have two Tiki trophies,” said Luuwai, of the first- and second-place team trophies he received during the post-competition awards ceremony. “It’s really hard to win high school races. It’s much harder than (regatta season) summer time. I have over 150 goal medals competing over the summer, but this is the first time I’ve won two Tikis.”
Champion and runner-up teams receive Tiki trophies, while up to 12 medals are awarded to championship team and runner-up members.
“Our goal was to make it to the finals and when we did that. The next goal was to try and finish first or second — and two of our three crews did that,” Luuwai told MauiNow.com Saturday night as the coach and all of his paddlers were about to attend the University of Hawaii vs. UCLA men’s volleyball match. “Our Girls team was devastated and it was hard to get them to regain their composure because we still had the Mixed race. My daughter was crying all the way to the starting line of the Mixed race and then they won that race. I think they all took out their frustrations in that race.”
Luuwai used eight paddlers in the Mixed race, including subs Kaya Givensel and Kainalu Kubo, and starters Dylan Kresge, Andrew Gibbons, Kawai Luuwai, Shayla Hoeft, Taysha Pimentel, and Hi’ilei Luuwai.
The second-place Boys team used seven members, including junior Dylan Kresge, junior Andrew Gibbons, sophomore Kainalu Kubo, junior Zach Ferrier, freshman Robert Gibbons and seniors Kawai Luuwai and Kekoa Medeiros.
The third-place Girls team members were sophomores Kaya Givensel and Taysha Pimentel, freshmen Kaila Medeiros and Nanea Andrade, senior Shayla Hoeft and junior Hi’ilei Luuwai steered the boat.
Luuwai, Givensel and Pimentel also paddled on last year’s runner-up crew to Punahou.
“I took our loss really hard,” said Hi’ilei Luuwai, the coaches daughter after the race. “But we went out there and raced our hardest and we came back with a gold.”
Since Luuwai began coaching at Seabury Hall, the Spartans have dominated the mixed competition in the MIL, collecting the last seven league crowns.
Before returning home, Seabury Hall will compete in today’s 2016 King Kalakaua Invitational at Ke’ehi Lagoon, starting at 9 a.m.