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Experienced Trojan Water Polo Team In OIA Championships

Even with just two seniors in the lineup, the Mililani girls water polo team is a veteran team in the all-important area of game experience.

“Over half of the team has been with me for two or more years,” said third-year head coach Gregg Wong. “They know what my expectations are now as far as how we train and practice, and that’s begun to transfer over into games. The continuity has helped.”

The challenge is this week’s OIA post-season tournament at Central Oahu Regional Park, where the Trojans anticipated earning a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, pending the outcome of the Kapolei match. The quarterfinals and semifinals are Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, at the CORP pool. The OIA championship game is set for Friday. (Pairings were to be released Sunday night.)

Wong credited his team’s off-season preparation as a big key to this year’s success. “Our off-season program has helped, and we had fall training for the first time this year,” he said. “We have a lot more depth. I can sub more than before, and the kids are fresher and can go harder. I made all of them go to the swim team (in the winter), and I also think they were anxious to play (water polo) and not just swim laps.”

While Wong will have nearly the entire team back next year, he’ll miss current seniors Kaylie Miyashita and Talisa Caldwell. Both have figured big in the Trojans’10-1 start.

“I’m really happy with how they’ve been guiding the team in their own ways. Both are very different personalities. Talisa is more vocal and leads all of our cheers. She’s a very intense and motivated individual. Kaylie is very cerebral. She’s been a starter since she was a freshman, and she’s one who does all of the little things, which makes it easy for the others to do their jobs. She’s one of our leaders in assists and steals.”

Wong also brought in the services of twin sisters Chloe and Chanel Long this season. The pair, who had lived here previously, relocated to Washington, but returned to Mililani in time for 2013. “They’ve been a nice addition,” he said. “Chanel is a strong scorer. That takes the pressure off of everyone else.”

The top six finishers at this week’s OIA tournament will earn the league’s berths for the May 7-10 state girls water polo championships, which will be at the UH Manoa Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex. The Trojans were state consolation champions last year.