Kaycee Kealoha knows busy.
The Moanalua cheer coach also thrives in chaos. Every week, a new challenge — not just from opposing teams.
Moanalua’s second Large Division state crown under Kealoha was precise, sharp, impressive. Sixteen Na Menehune in unison at the Billy Tees/HHSAA Cheerleading State Championships on Saturday at Blaisdell Arena. The winning routine — which led to 359.75 points — wasn’t a season-long simmer.
“Every year, every single competition, we change our routine. This one is a brand new routine that we’ve been running for the last three days since we had Thursday off,” Kealoha said. “It was really exciting. They said that they felt super comfortable with this one. It was the most comfortable they felt all season. It definitely showed and it paid off.”
When Haylie Bajet went down with an ACL injury during the OIA season, Kealoha was ready to adjust. Bajet, though, wouldn’t give up her dream and instead rehabbed enough to keep her role as a back spotter at states.
“She went to the doctors constantly. She was out for a few months. Her doctors let her compete right at the end, so we tape her out, she was out there today, all ready to go,” Kealoha said of the sophomore.
The chemistry between coach and athletes was different in 2021, she added.
“This is our nice team. They’re very quiet, very shy. Very different from our other teams that were rugged and rough and ready to work,” Kealoha said. “This team was, ‘Yes, coach,’ ‘OK, coach.’ It was very different and, also, coming off that COVID year, we lost a lot of people. We had only three people that even competed on varsity, so it was exciting for them to go through that as a team and experience that all together this year.”
Senior Emma Rose Estacio, and twin sisters Abrie and Bailey Prinea are the three long-timers who were freshmen on the 2018 squad that took the Large Division state title.
“I’m so proud of them. We came a long way from barely having skills in the beginning to now,” Estacio said. “I’m proud of how much they’ve pushed giving their all for this trophy right here and bringing it back home.”
See the state championship story in Sunday’s edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.