You wouldn’t typically find a “pig skin” flying around on a cross-country course, but you will find one of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s best wide receiver running in a three mile race.
Keaau’s Daniel Brooks became “King of the East Side Schools” by winning the BIIF cross-country season opener at Waiakea.
Brooks, who does double duty as a wide receiver for the Cougars football team, won the Waiakea meet and in the process established himself as one of the leagues contenders for the individual crown.
“Football is more fun, but I like the thrill of cross-country. Running is very rewarding and football requires more practice,” Brooks said.
The multi-talented senior needed to pass Waiakea’s Jackson Halford in the early going and never was seriously challenged after that point.
Brooks clocked in at 17 minutes and 49 seconds, with Hilo’s Tyde Kaneshiro (18:11) and Johann Kuiper (18:21) while Halford, the early leader dropped to fourth place.
“I got boxed in by two Keaau kids (Brooks and Shannon White) early in the race, so I sped up to pass them, but continued to keep that pace which was a big mistake. By the start of the first big hill I knew I was in trouble,” Halford said.
Brooks took advantage and passed Halford less than a mile into the race. “I have to suit up for a game against Kealakehe tonight. I’m now looking forward to running against those Honokaa guys (Josh Robinson and Chris Mosch) next week as I’d like to see how I’ll do against them,” Brooks said.
Hilo’s Kaneshiro, who was the eighth runner for the Vikings, last year, has stepped up his performance to become the team’s number one.
“I’ve come into this season with a more positive attitude and it’s made a big difference in my performance. I don’t really like running, but I know I’m good at it so I’ve decided to work really hard this season.” Kaneshiro said.
For the girls it was a foursome of talented harriers separating themselves from the rest of the field early on with Hilo’s Shalila de Bourmont, Waiakea’s Kaitlyn Chock and Kelsie Kobayashi along with Kamehameha’s Bronte Kaneakua all looking strong.
The Viking led the pack through the first mile before pulling away. “It was hard for me to lead throughout the race, but my coaches wanted me to go out fast and hang on the best that I could,” de Bourmont said.
“I needed to continue telling myself to keep the pace during the race. I could feel the stress from being in the lead. At certain parts during the race I felt I couldn’t go on, even though I felt crappy I kept going as my coaches kept giving me inspiration,” she said.
The sophomore harriers winning time was 21 minutes and 21 seconds with Waiakea’s Chock (21:40) and Kelsie Kobayashi (21:44) along with Kamehameha’s Kaneakua 21:56) following.
“I just wanted to run and see where everyone is at today. If I had felt good I would have gone for it so hopefully I can push myself more in the future” runner-up Chock said.
The Warrior duo worked as a team and stayed close to each other throughout the race. “We planned to stay together for as long as we could. We helped push and motivate each other and I just tried staying with Kaitlyn (Chock) for as long as I could,” Kobayashi said.