Team Hawaii juniors off to strong start at ISA World Championships

If you’re a Kapaa fan, I’m sure you’re currently frothing to talk football with just about everyone. The Warriors are rolling right now, picking up their fourth straight shutout victory over the weekend to move to 5-0 on the season and maintain that No. 1 state ranking among Division II schools.

But away from the East Side, football hasn’t exactly been a point of stellar conversation so far. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors got beaten up again on the Mainland and both Kauai and Waimea High are in the midst of what seems to be Kapaa’s turn in the dynasty seat.

So while September is typically a football frenzy, we’re all about inclusivity here, so let’s direct our attention somewhere we can all join hands and avoid any bitterness.

The boys and girls of Team Hawaii are proving their mettle at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Azores, Portugal. Through the first few rounds of competition, most of Hawaii’s 12 groms have made it through the main draw unscathed. I say it often, but four-surfer heats are so unpredictable that even being considered a “favorite” isn’t much of an edge with all the variables at play.

But the great thing about this event is that one bad heat doesn’t end your week. With the repercharge bracket in place, everyone gets a second chance to make a run to the final.

So far, Mahina Maeda is taking care of business. Of the 64 surfers in the Under 18 Girls division, Maeda put up the first round’s highest heat total and went on to win her second-round heat with ease. She now heads into round three of the main draw against Anat Leilor (Israel), Vahine Fierro (Tahiti) and Raiha Ensor (New Zealand).

Just as impressive, if not more so, has been Brisa Hennessy. Also in the Under 18 division, Hennessy has a pair of heat wins and the highest heat total (15.17) to this point of the event. She’ll be set to take on Josefina Ane (Argentina), Delfina Mororini (Uruguay) and Marion Phillipe (Tahiti) in round three.

It’s hard to see anyone with a better shot than Maeda and Hennessy to make a deep run, but as I said before, being a favorite means nothing once the horn sounds.

Both Summer Macedo and Zoe McDougal are also into round three of the Under 16 Girls division. Macedo is hoping to defend her gold medal in this very event from 2015 and she made quite a statement with a 17.50 two-wave total in round two.

The boys divisions are even more treacherous with just about twice as many entrants. That creates an additional round of heats to survive. But both Kaulana Apo and Cody Young have navigated through their first two heats of Boys Under 18 action to earn spots in round three of the main draw.

Noa Mizuno and Koa Yakota have fallen victim to that treachery, not making the top two in their opening-round heats. But each is still alive with a chance to add points to the Hawaii team total, ready to surf round two of the repercharge bracket.

In the Under 16 Boys division, Wyatt McHale and Finn McGill will also have to do their work through the repercharge bracket the rest of the way. Both finished in the bottom two of their round two heats, but Barron Mamiya is safely into round three of the main draw. Logan Bediamol still has his second-round heat when action reconvenes.

It’s a good start for Team Hawaii as a whole, as these “Ambassadors of Aloha” continue their push toward the podium. As a true team event, everyone plays an equal part. So just remaining in the field means a great deal to each team’s chances. With all the surfers still in the mix, there is a lot of upside to still possibly become realized.


David Simon can be reached at


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