The Honokaa Boys cross country team has won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation team title 4 times and look to win their fifth title on Oct 22.
KEAAU – Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Mariah Haight won her first Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross country meet on Saturday at Kamehameha, but more importantly she gave her mother a very special birthday gift.
“Saturday was my mom’s birthday and I really wanted to win this race for her,” Haight said. “When I won my mom gave me a big hug and said this was the greatest birthday present she ever received.”
Haight, a sophomore, had another goal of running the three mile race in under 20 minutes and managed to achieve that as well by crossing the finish line in 19 minutes and 58 seconds.
“I was really motivated today as I wanted to do it for my mom, Barbara,” Haight said.
Haight held back during the first two miles, content to run in a pack of Ka Makani harriers.
“In the middle of mile two I took the lead and I could hear Kristiana (Van Pernis) close behind me the whole time,” Haight said. “Knowing Kristiana was behind me helped me to run faster as I really wanted this race for my mom.”
HPA claimed the first four spots with Hilo’s Carmen Garson Shumway breaking up a possible perfect Ka Makani score with her fifth place finish.
“I was trying to stay with the HPA pack the entire way, moving between fourth and fifth place,” Garson Shumway said. “I ran my race by going out fast and maintaining my speed as the HPA girls helped me to run my best.”
Garson Shumway was surrounded by a sea of red as the young Viking used the red tide to help boost her to a 20:18 performance.
In the boys race it was Makua Lani’s Brandt Mabuni jumping out to an early lead with a trio of well know leaders, Waiakea’s Jackson Halford, Kamehameha’s Shawn Correa Doll and St. Joseph’s Andrew Langtry following close behind.
Mabuni, a rapidly improving senior, showed no fear as he took it to the usual trio of league leaders.
“I just felt really good today and I focused on the lead bike and just tried to chase the bike,” Mabuni said. “I held the lead for most of the race before being passed with less than a mile to the finish line.”
Mabuni came into the race with a goal of finishing third and got his wish, which is his highest finish this season.
“I made an optimistic decision to take third today,” Mabuni said. “I’m very pleased with the outcome and I believe I have a realistic chance of winning the BIIF individual championship.”
Halford and Doll went after Mabuni during that final mile, passing him and turning the outcome of the race into a two person sprint as the duo exchanged command of the race.
In the end Halford used his superior kick to pass Doll during the closing 100 yards of what turned out to be a controversial finish.
“I took the lead just pass the second mile and spent the first two miles just trying to keep up with Brandt,” Halford said. “He’s really fast and I didn’t expect him (Mabuni) to lead us for that long.”
Halford won his third BIIF meet of the season and credited his kick for his come from behind victory.
“If it wasn’t for my kick he, (Correa Doll) would have beaten me,” Halford said.
Correa Doll learned an important lesson during the meet.
“I wasn’t surprised with Brandt running in the lead for the first half of the race as I knew Jackson and I could catch him,” Correa Doll said. “With a half mile to go I took the lead and the race came down to a kick in the final 100 yards.”
Following the race Correa Doll said that he needs to work on his kick to be better prepared for the BIIF championships on Oct 22.
Thirty minutes after the meet Correa Doll learned that he was disqualified for impeding (trying to prevent) Halford from passing him during the final 100 yards.
“I apologize to Jackson for getting in his way,” Correa Doll said. “I learned an important lesson and I’m glad it happened now rather that during the championships.”
In team scoring it was a fired up Honokaa team that bunched their top five runners to win their first team title of the season.
When Dragon Coach Josh Abner was asked to talk about his teams renewed vigor, Abner replied, “No comment, I have nothing to say at this time.”
Honokaa brothers Tony and Robert Conners finished in fourth and sixth respectively with teammate Chayce Moniz sandwiched in between.
The Dragons are the four time defending BIIF champions and their sudden leap to the top this season appears to have prepared them at the right time to contend for yet another team title.
Waiakea had won the team title during the season up until the Kamehameha meet on Saturday to a disgruntled Warrior Coach Jordan Rosado.
“We all became complacent and it’s my fault for not preparing them,” Rosado said of the Warriors drop to second place. “They have to show that they want it (the team championship).”
The BIIF cross country takes a bye this weekend before heading into the league individual and team championships on Saturday, Oct. 22 to be held at Kamehameha.
The top two boys and girls team will get the automatic berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships to be held on Maui on Oct 29, along with the top 38 boys and 37 girls.