Paddlers headed to Maui for states

Three teams will represent the Kauai Interscholastic Federation at the First Hawaiian Bank Paddling Championships Saturday on Maui.

Kapaa High School’s varsity boys and mixed teams and Kauai High’s varsity girls team will take to the water at the Valley Isle.

“They worked hard from the beginning of the year. They were a little behind on the curve because football season went a little further,” said Kapaa paddling coach Micah Mokuahi. “Throughout the season, they slowly got together. Kept coming to practice and kept working hard.”

Teams from 48 high schools from across Hawaii and will race at Kahului Harbor beginning at 10 a.m.

In preparation for states, Mokuahi said he’s had his paddlers anticipate racing in rough waters. He and his team flew over to Maui on Thursday to have ample time to make arrangements. 

“We’ve been working on paddling in rougher conditions,” he said. “Sometimes, other islands have moving water. We always have nice water in the river to race in. It’s hard for us to get used to that.”

Kapaa senior Johnny Levinthol, who has paddled for four years, raced in last year’s state event on Oahu and hopes that experience has helped him be better prepared this time around.

“We kind of just have to really focus and try to tighten up every little thing. Just try to get the boat moving as quickly as you can,” Levinthol said. “I’m looking forward to going with the crew. We’ve been friends since our baby days. It should be fun to paddle with them and end our high school careers together in the same boat.”

Warriors senior Autumn Begley also said she’s looking forward to “one last ride” with her team.

“Something that’s been going well is that we have a good team dynamic. We all work well together. It’s like we’re family,” she said. 

Begley also has paddled for four years and has been to states three times.

“I just know how it’s going to be. So the nervous side is going away. I can just focus on doing well and technique,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll win. But I’m looking forward to seeing the competition and seeing how far we’ve come and grown as a team.”

Kauai paddling coach Lori Parraga said getting to states has been the goal since the beginning of the season and she is thrilled her girls team will be taking part. The Red Raider girls are making the trip to states today.

“We had an awesome season without a doubt. It was a good season with great talent from all three high schools,” she said. “All-in-all, from long distance to sprint, they did very well.”

She added, aside from her team, she will be paying extra attention to the team from Kamehameha Schools — Kapalama, from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, as she believes that is the team to beat.

For Red Raiders senior and four-year team captain Nicole Carney, this will be her second trip to states. She, too, competed in last year’s event on Oahu.

“I hope everyone has fun and does the best we can,” she said about herself and the other KIF representatives. “We made it to states, so we’re all winners no matter what happens.”

Kauai Interscholastic Federation paddlers

Kapaa boys: Shizuo Santos, Johnny Levinthol, Maka AhLoo, Dylan Lemn, Chaz Pacleb and Keahi Tabura. 

Kapaa mixed: Autumn Begley, Brylyn Aiwohi, Breanne Bernades, Maka AhLoo, Keahi Tabura and Johnny Levinthol. 

Kauai girls: Christina Carney, Sarah Matsunaga, Saedy Tumaneng, Nicole Carney, Shea Cayabyab, Kiani Souza. 

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