Cantere, Volner go the distance | News, Sports, Jobs

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Senior distance runner Kaimana Cantere (this photo) of Maui High School paired Kaylee Volner (next photo) of Seabury Hall for seven individual MIL titles and four medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze) at the state championships last month. – The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Despite accepting Athlete of the Year honors in girls’ and boys’ track and field from The Maui News, Seabury Hall’s Kaylee Volner and Maui High School’s Kaimana Cantere still didn’t realize they were champions. ‘State.

The seniors have been nonstop for the past few weeks between the Maui Interscholastic League track and field championships, the Island Movers state championships in Oahu, and then their high school graduations.

As a four-time MIL champion who included a tough sweep of distance and mid-distance races – the 400, 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters – as well as a gold and bronze medalist in the 800 and 1 500, respectively, Cantere was chosen as Male Athlete of the Year by The Maui News.

“I have come a long way. I didn’t have much experience or knowledge, until now, all the hard work I had to put in. It’s a good feeling. Cantere said of the honor last month, just two days after his opening ceremony. “It’s incredible.”

While there have been many star performances this season from boy MIL athletes – including Joseph Randolph de Baldwin, three-time MIL champion (100, 200, long jump) and state 100-meter champion, and Justin Kahalewai of the Bears, who earned a string of MIL finalists and a first-place finish, as well as a state gold medal in the 110 hurdles — Cantere rose above the rest, adding more championship accolades cross-country state championship which he won in December.

Senior distance runner Kaylee Volner (this photo) of Seabury Hall combined with Kaimana Cantere (next photo) of Maui High School for seven individual MIL titles and four medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze) at the state championships last month. – The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Volner said last month that “it’s really still not the case” still felt real. After earning three individual MIL Championship victories (800, 1,500 and 3,000), then becoming state champion in the 3,000 – the only female state individual winner among Maui track and field athletes – and medalist silver in the 1,500, Volner was the clear choice for female athlete of the year in track and field.

“It certainly means a lot. There are so many great athletes in the MIL who have really shown during the MIL Championships and also in the United States and to get this honor, I’m just so grateful for everything that’s happened this season,” Volner said. “It’s a great way to end my high school career as well as my senior season.”

Volner is joined on the Girls’ All-Stars roster — which consists of MIL champions and the top three state runners-up — by fellow Spartans teammate Ruby Kessler; Ja’lyn Deichert from King Kekaulike, Kiana Quinabo, Heather Pease and Maja Szpunar; Baldwin’s Selena Castro; Kirra Spalding and Samantha Abernathy of Kamehameha Maui; Lynn Pustelnik of St. Anthony; and Amber Donnelly of Maui High.

Cantere is joined on the boys’ All-Stars roster by fellow Saber Ethan Takara; Randolph, Kahalewai, Colin Crawford, and Ezra Laga of Baldwin; C-Jay Caguioa of Lahainaluna; Trevor Tanaka of St. Anthony; and Keegan Gantala of Kamehameha Maui.

The pair of AOY on track didn’t know what to expect this year given that they had both not competed in a full track season since their early years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MIL 2022 Athletics Stars

“As I went in I was definitely more confident and more eager for what I wanted to accomplish with my goals and most importantly I wanted to enjoy the moment because I knew it was my last season and I wanted to make memories with all my teammates and coaches,” Volner said. “One thing I will definitely miss is the community we had for cross country and track because everyone is always so kind to each other and cheering each other on even though it’s kind of hard. ‘competitive environment, we always get along well, as from the different schools.

Although there was a lot of wasted time and experience, Cantère said he learned to motivate himself, listen to his body through tough training programs and practice. “mind over matter.”

“My mind was set on one goal, which worked well in the States and I learned that I could achieve those goals that many people thought were impossible,” he said. “Some people set their standards so low, like ‘Oh I want to be third or fifth’, but I wanted more than that and seeing the work I put in and the help from my coaches, I have done.”

The feeling remains “inexplicable to me.”

“I’m left speechless every time I think back to what I’ve accomplished this year,” he added. “The moment feels like yesterday, you know, racing against the best in the state and crossing the line is just a much bigger feeling. … It’s awesome. Just seeing the different competitions, that’s what always motivates me, the thrill of that, it’s a completely different feeling – a very good one.

Cantere said he plans to take a year off while working and deciding on college, but in the meantime he has a few summer errands in mind. He and former Sabers teammate Galen Okamoto had planned to race the Kahakuloa Half Marathon Relay last weekend.

Cantere also plans to travel to New York for the USATF National Youth Track and Field Championships later this month. He is registered to participate in the 800, 1,500, 1,600 and 2,000 steeplechase relays, which is something “I always wanted to try” he said.

This summer, Volner said she will be preparing for varsity cross country with Santa Clara University by training with former Spartans teammates Chloe Gangnath and Kallalei Ryden, who both race in varsity and are home in Maui for a few weeks.

“I look forward to the new opportunities that (as a college athlete) will give me and some of the best competition in the country, because here on Maui we can only race at a few different places each year, but at the university, I’m excited to be able to travel every weekend and be part of the traveling team, which will be really fun,” she says. “I will definitely miss Coach Bobby (Grossman) the most. We had so many memories together, and finishing the season with a state championship really meant a lot to us and he’s been a part of my life for five years now, so stepping away from his training is definitely going to be tough. ”

* Dakota Grossman is at [email protected]


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