Young Trojan Bowlers Earn 5th In State

With the big picture in mind, developing a consistent winner has been the prevailing theme for Mililani girls bowling head coach Dennis August and his team.

The 2014 bowlers did their best to that end, placing fifth at the recent state bowling championships in Kona. The Mililani girls have made states five years in a row, and claimed titles in 2005 and 2007.

“We’re slowly building,” August said. “Qualifying for states is no longer a new thing here. Even the young ones, they’ve been there.”

In fact, almost the entire roster was young this season, with Krstyn Yata as the lone senior.

Depth carried Mililani to its finish at the state finals, as it had seven players participating: Erin Ohta (26th; 1,358), Kacey Brighter (32nd; 1,334), Taylor Ishisaka (44th; 1,261), Keri Shigeta (47th; 1,257),

Yata (50th; 1,244), Karli Shidaki (55th; 1,217) and Kirsten Ortiz (58th; 1,208). Karla Higa also competed during the season and in the OIA Individual and Team finals.

In all, Mililani totaled 6,378 pins to secure its fifth-place standing. OIA West rival Pearl City won its fourth straight Team title as expected with 7,276 pins, followed by Hawaii Baptist Academy (7,126), Moanalua (6,732) and Sacred Hearts Academy (6,689).

The Trojans could have fared even better, but for a tough outing on the final day, according to the coach. “I was happy, but I’m sure they aren’t as satisfied,” said August, who is assisted by daughter Danielle. “After the first day, we were in fourth, and I thought we had a real chance to get up to third or even second, but we struggled. It’s a long format, and they may have been a bit tired.”

As throughout the season, August had high praise for his team’s mental toughness at the state tournament. “It was really surprising to me to watch them struggle on the last day and then an hour after we’re done, be all smiles. They’re a resilient group. They work hard, but they don’t let it get to them.”

Looking ahead to 2015, expectations are as high as ever with so many bowlers expected back. “That gives us a bright outlook. Kacey (Brighter), Keri (Shigeta) and Karli (Shidaki) will be seniors next year. They know what to expect now.”

Excitement around the girls bowling program has been fueled along by the support from parents.

“They are so important in this, as far as bringing the kids to practice every day and getting them the right equipment,” August said. “They try their best to help the kids become successful. It’s really important to have the backing of the parents.”