Monday, March 29, 1999

Special to the Star-Bulletin
The Kaimuki High School cheerleaders, from top left, are:
Joy Okada, Christine Nguyen, Noweo Ahau, Iwalani
Yamauchi, Jo'el Lujan, Linda Nguyen, Ludia Park and Lindy Nagata.

Kaimuki cheerleaders
win U.S., state titles

The state competition came five
hours after returning home from
the national meet in Anaheim, Calif.

By Rod Ohira


Kaimuki High School's varsity cheerleaders returned home as national champions and chose to put everything on the line immediately.

The national champs went after the state title March 21, five hours after returning home from Anaheim, Calif., and won it with an encore performance befitting a champion.

"Nationals is the hardest one to do, so we didn't want to slide and be embarrassed in the state (competition)," senior Lindy Nagata said, referring to Kaimuki's title sweep, which came about 2,500 miles and 30 hours apart.

Coach Brandy Rhinelander's eight-member squad beat 10 other teams to win the National Cheerleaders Association's West Coast Classic March 20 in Anaheim.

They celebrated with a short visit to Disneyland and dinner before heading home.

The team arrived home at 1 p.m. and was competing in the Hawaii State Cheerleading Championships at 6 p.m.

"I didn't want them in the state (competition) because I knew they would be tired," Rhinelander said. "But they wanted to do it.

"Since it was their decision totally, getting them up for it wasn't a problem."

Members of Kaimuki's championship team are seniors Christine Nguyen, Ludia Park, Jo'el Lujan and Nagata; sophomores Noweo Akau, Linda Nguyen and Joy Okada; and freshman Iwalani Yamauchi.

Christine Nguyen, Park and Akau are team co-captains.

Rhinelander's team began training for its championship season last summer.

Weightlifting, tumbling and high-risk toss-up maneuvers called stunting were part of the six-hour daily workouts from June to August that prepared the eight cheerleaders for a grueling schedule of school events and competition over the next eight months.

The 2-minute routine Kaimuki performed in Anaheim combined jumping, gymnastics, stunting and dancing exercises.

Kaimuki earned high marks for degree of difficulty with its double twists in stunting, which was the key to winning the small varsity division national championship, says Rhinelander.

"This is the highlight of our year, something we prepared all season and all summer for," said the 24-year-old Rhinelander, a former Kaimuki High cheerleader who has coached the team for seven years.

At the state meet, Kaimuki won grand champion honors and was also the medium varsity division champ.

As a cheerleader at Kaimuki, Rhinelander was a member of two squads that competed in the nationals.

"My freshman year, we were 10th out of 132 teams, and in my senior year we finished 12th."

Christine Nguyen, who will earn her fourth cheerleading letter this year, says cheerleading today can pay for a college education.

"Hawaii Pacific University pays 80-100 percent tuition, and the University of Hawaii, 50-100 percent," said Nguyen, who plans to try out next year for the HPU squad. "I like it because of the competition."

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