Kalaheo’s Marr surprises field for Air Riflery state title

Kalaheo girls air riflery coach Kanoe Nakata, Suki Lecher, assistant coach Kelli Trammell-Loggains, Madissyn Marr, boys coach Craig Garcia, Michelle Caban (Madissyn's mother), Kaiao Cobeen. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

At Kalaheo, air riflery doubles, sort of, as a way to sweat out any toxins.

The Mustangs practice in the wrestling room, which has no windows.

“It’s a sauna,” longtime co-head coach Craig Garcia said.

The alternative might be to shoot outdoors, but trade winds off the slopes of the picturesque Oneawa Hills aren’t ideal. Madissyn Marr remembers her freshman year, when the team actually practiced outside.

“It was good for our wind-shooting skills,” said Marr, smiling under her blue-dyed hairdo.

Marr made the ultimate Mustang run on Tuesday, capturing the girls individual title at the Civilian Marksmanship Program/HHSAA Air Riflery State Championships at Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall. She scored 547 — 197 prone, 167 standing and 183 kneeling — and was in first place entering the finals. That’s where she tacked on a score of 86.2 to finish with a total of 633.2, ahead of Mid-Pacific’s Sophia Crisci (624.9) and Kaiser’s Taylor Dunaway (624.9).

Marr, who hadn’t won a meet all season, was a walking example of perseverance. Earlier in the year, her great-grandmother, Beatrice Moniz, passed away. Marr struggled to focus in school and with her shooting.

But instead of quitting, she talked with her mom, Michelle Caban. Mama knows best.

“She convinced me it’s my senior year and I’d been doing it since freshman year. I had to get us a team (championship) banner,” Marr said.

Kalaheo placed fourth at states and didn’t win the OIA, so there is no banner for 2018. But there is something larger. Suki Lecher, who took third in the OIA, and Marr competed and pushed each other to improve. They and their Mustang teammates supported each other through ups and downs as steep as those hills behind campus.

Marr found her resolve under adversity more steady than ever. There was no other way to explain her ascent to the title.

“I didn’t let myself get frustrated. I just wanted to focus on the next bull’s eye instead of the last one. That’s the best way I can put it. I’ve learned to block out the other scores. It’s practice, practice, practice,” she said. “Everyone shoots so differently. Everyone has their own way of getting into their zone. Some days I’m really fidgety and think of songs, calming songs, in my head. I find that I shoot well when I’m tired.”

There was deliberate preparation for Blaisdell’s natural and artificial lighting.

“It’s air-conditioned and in our week before states, we turned on brighter LED lights,” Marr said. “We also used the targets they use at states.”

There was also fatigue, even as the team left campus in the early morning and didn’t attend class.

“I woke up at 4:30, but I was excited to come here, and my friends came here, two of my old teammates,” Marr said. “We’ve come a long way. It’s good fun to see how far we’ve come.”

No doubt, Madissyn Marr had another old friend watching from above, celebrating her blue-haired sharpshooting granddaughter.

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