XC Falcons are back!

Courtney Ito, Feature

The Falcons are more motivated than ever and excited for this year’s fall sports season.

“We got a lot more training time off campus last year, which let us train and prepare for our competition,” cross-country runner Leilani Tang (10) explains. “I hope to build a stronger mindset when I’m running.”

This year, sports at Kalani are different due to no covid restrictions. 

“Families had to scramble to get vaccinations or exemptions last year,” athletic trainer Ben Kuenzli explains.

Tang has been running cross country for a year and made it on the 2021 varsity State Championship team last year as a freshman. 

Leilani Tang (10) sprints to the finish line at the Michael Doran Invitational cross-country meet at Kalani High School on Saturday, Oct. 1. Phan is a sophomore on the varsity team after competing at the XC State Championships on the Big Island in 2021 as a freshman. (Mitch Otani)

“This season’s harder, and there’s a lot more competition from other schools, but the team is bigger this year, and everyone is training very hard!” she says.

Varsity football wide receiver La’akea Nishimoto (10) looks forward to a competitive season. 

“I hope we develop as a team, gain more experience and chemistry, win our games, and make it to the playoffs this year,” Nishimoto explains. 

Nishimoto, who’s been playing football for a year, claims that his favorite part of the game is getting to train with his friends. 

“I’ve improved a lot because I have one more year’s worth of training and experience,” he says.

With all the goals the Falcons have this year, unfortunately, some run into injuries…literally. 

“I was playing wide receiver and ran an out-route, and as I jumped to catch a high ball, I planted my right foot and twisted it, and then the guy tackled my knee, which made everything worse,” football player Brennan Takara (9) says.

Takara noted that he has a fractured patella and is out for 8-12 weeks, which makes the injury season-ending.

Before his injury, Takara says he had goals of getting a record number of touchdowns, making JV playoffs, and being the best he can be. 

With the fall season halfway through, athletic trainer Ben Kuenzli shares his hopes for the athletes he treats. 

“Softball beat Mililani for the first time ever, cross country has a good chance of doing well at States, and volleyball has a good chance at playoffs,” Kuenzli says.

So far, the Falcons have overcome many challenges this fall season. Let’s keep cheering for our amazing fall athletes!