NAPILI — The high- flying Maui Preparatory Academy Na Pueo completed a dream season recently with an impressive finish at the High School Golf National Invitational played at the legendary Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.
Following a breakthrough Maui Interscholastic League championship season that culminated in Maui Prep’s second state title — Na Pueo had just two months earlier captured the Napili campus’ first state championship with a gold medal in Division II basketball — the team was among the 52 schools invited to compete in the prestigious HSGNI at Pinehurst.
The event annually attracts the top teams in the United States, and this year was a first for a Hawaii team to be invited to compete.
Na Pueo drew the attention of the national event organizers with their 38-stroke Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championship victory at the Kaanapali Resort in May.
Guided by coaches Chris Armanini (the teaching professional at Kaanapali) and Chris Salem, the Maui Prep lineup included seniors Caleb Chumley and Jimmy Falk, along with freshmen Christopher Salem, Landon Long and Renner Chumley.
The upstart Pueo combined for rounds of 314, 316 and 335 for a 965, good for 25th place among the elite 52 teams competing at the pristine Pinehurst Courses 5, 6, and 7.
“To see our student-athletes perform at such a high level under such intense pressure and suffocating (hot and humid) weather was truly amazing,” said Coach Armanini upon his return to the Valley Isle. “We accomplished our goal — that being that half of the United States’ best high school teams are looking up to our team position in the national standings!”
“Many of the schools we competed with have thousands of students (Maui Prep has some 80 high school students) led by seniors heading to Division I golf programs. Intimidation does not do justice to the intensity that they were able to block out of their young minds on the first tee box and thereafter.
“On the first two days of the tournament, the team posted scores averaged in the seventies, with Renner Chumley tossing a crisp two over par on the first day. On the last round of his high school, Caleb Chumley led the team on a very difficult Pinehurst Course #7,” he continued.
“Our players spent eight days on this cross country trip, and it was mentioned often by fellow coaches and players how friendly and respectful the team from Hawaii was both on and off the golf course. After an impressive state championship, this unified experience at the iconic Pinehurst Golf courses will travel with these young men for the rest of their lives.”
Congratulations Na Pueo golf!