BIG ISLAND ROAD RUNNERS $1,000 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
YEAR MALE FEMALE
2006 Stefano Barbis – Hilo Malia Williams – Hilo
2007 Eamon Harriy – Kona Sarah Chitwood – Hilo
Keoni Ucker – CLA (50%)
2008 Nick Hagemann – Keaau Jamilia Epping – Keaau
Nick Ucker- CLA (50%)
2009 Bryce Harada – Waiakea Amy Eriksson – Keaau
Kaitlyn Yamamoto-Kamehameha (50%)
2010 Sai Weiss – Hilo Kaitlyn Chock – Waiakea
2011 Rogelio Barroga – Keaau Hana Scully – HPA
2012 Robert Connors – Honokaa Deann Nishimura-Thornton – Keaau
The money for the BIRR scholarships was provided by Richard and Virginia Alderson. Each year the BIRR five member scholarship committee reviews the numerous applications to made the awards.
A few days ago members of the Big Island Road Runners scholarship committee met to look over the many applications sent in by prep runners seeking the one of two $1000 cash awards that is to be presented this year.
Thanks, in part, to a generous gift provided by Richard and Virginia Alderson the BIRR, since 2006, have been giving away cash scholarships to at least two deserving high school seniors from the Big Island.
Past winners include:
2006 – Hilo’s Stefano Barbis and Malia Williams
2007 – Hilo’s Sarah Chitwood and Konawaena’s Eamon Harrity with a half scholarship to Christian Liberty’s Keoni Ucker
2008 – Keaau’s Nick Hagemann and Jamilia Epping with a half scholarship to CLA’s Nick Ucker
2009 – Keaau’s Amy Eriksson and Waiakea’s Bryce Harada with a half scholarship to Kamehameha’s Kaitlyn Yamamoto
What is impressive is that all of the past awardees were scholar athletes and most went on to run cross-country in college.
Barbis, Williams, Hagemann, and both Ucker’s currently run for Jaime Guerpo and the University of Hawaii at Hilo Vulcan’s, while Yamamoto was a walk on at UH Manoa this past season and claimed the important number seven spot for the Rainbows.
This year the scholarship committee chaired by Big Dog, with voting members Dano Banks, Joseph Kamelamela and the Alderson’s meet to look over the qualified applicants and read over their essays on how running has influenced their lives.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Virginia Alderson said. “There were many good applicants who are scholar athletes that have been involved in many community service projects.”
After careful review the scholarship committee selected Hilo’s Sai Weiss and Waiakea’s Kaitlyn Chock.
Both Weiss and Chock ran cross-country and track all four years at their respective schools and both are academically gifted with Weiss carrying a 3.5 grade point average and Chock a 3.9 GPA.
Besides running Weiss is also a 1st degree black belt in Aikido. “Sai has been our aikido student since he was about 8 years old,” Sensei Robert Klein said. “To understand the context of his accomplishment, in the thirty years our dojo has existed, there have only been three teens who received a black belt from us while still in high school.”
Chock is also a gifted athlete winning Waiakea’s Most Outstanding Athlete award in cross-country and track for the past two years. The multi talented Warrior also helped anchor her swim team in both relay events.
Both Weiss and Chock are Key Club members and have chaired various community activities from helping with the Big Island International Marathon, to volunteering with Special Olympics track & field events.
“We are so pleased that there are so many fine young and men and women in our public school system and Sai and Kaitlyn are two fine examples,” Richard Alderson said.
“The only problem we have had with Sai over the years is that sometimes he can’t attend our aikido class and events because he’s busy with those troublesome track meets,” Sensei Klein said with a smile.
Weiss has been accepted to Southern Oregon University and Chock will be attending the University of Oregon, Robert D. Clark Honor’s College.
“I am very surprised and humbled by this scholarship,” Weiss said. “The money will help finance my education and I would like to thank my coaches, parents and fellow athletes in helping me get to where I am today.”
Weiss plans on majoring on Environmental Studies and Business while Chock plans on entering Liberal Arts.
“I’m excited that I was selected for this scholarship,” Chock said. “Thanks to my Dad as he has always been my motivation to try hard.”
The BIRR which was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1973 has been promoting health and fitness through running and walking events in East Hawaii will recognize Weiss and Chock in a formal ceremony at the end of their Scholarship 5K (3.1-mile) fun run/walk on Sunday, May 23.
The Scholarship Run/Walk starts at 7:30 am near the entrance to the Moku Ola (Coconut Island) parking area.
Recently I attended the athletic awards ceremony for Waiakea High School and was impressed with the high number of scholar athletes (those that maintained a 3.3 grade point average or higher) that participate in sports.
One example was the Warrior cross-country team which awarded varsity letters to 46 boys, 31 of them scholar athletes, and 17 girls, with 13 scholar athletes, an impressive number by any standard.
Many of those young harriers were also student body leaders, involved in community service clubs and a couple was serving as their schools valedictorians.
Distance running is one of the oldest sports known to humans, if not the oldest. It requires internal motivation and perseverance and can serve as a marker for how much time and effort were devoted to this single pursuit.
The only community based, non-profit organization, which recognizes the efforts of the high school runner through a cash grant scholarship is the Big Island Road Runners.
Four years ago the BIRR started a scholarship program for graduating public high school seniors that gave a modest $500 to a boy and $500 to a girl. The BIRR has since doubled their scholarship to $1000 each and has, for the past three years, given an additional $500 to a private school runner.
This year’s public school awards went to two valedictorians in Keaau’s Amy Eriksson and Waiakea’s Bryce Harada, with the private school partial scholarship award going to Kamehameha’s Kaitlyn Yamamoto.
Eriksson and Harada concluded their high school careers with cumulative grade point average of 4.1 and Yamamoto finished with a 3.9 making them exceptional scholar athletes who performed well in running and in the classroom.
Eriksson is headed to Bingham Young University-Hawaii, Harada to University of Hawaii-Hilo and Yamamoto to UH-Manoa.
On Sunday the trio was on hand at the BIRR Scholarship 5K run/walk to take part in the morning run followed by a brief award ceremony to receive their scholarship checks.
During the race it was newcomer Donald Truesdell getting out to a quick start with Hilo’s Johan Dana and Akira Tanaka giving case.
Dana managed to stay within a stride behind Truesdell before the youngster from Chico State began to separate himself.
Truesdell, who finished his freshmen year at Chico State where he runs cross-country, won in 17 minutes flat with Dana clocking in at 17:36 and Tanaka, finished at 17:58.
“I was hoping to run under 17 minutes today,” Truesdell said after the race, “but I’m satisfied with the effort. I took two weeks off distance running to concentrate on doing track work, and I’ll be staying on the island for a month before heading back to California.”
Truesdell is the nephew of Kamehameha cross-country coach, Joel Truesdell, as both were on hand to see Yamamoto receive her scholarship award from the BIRR.
Following in fourth place was Amlsom Teklai, 18:01, with Christian Liberty’s Justin Pang, 19:20; Waiakea’s Bryce Harada, 19:39, Keaau’s Shannon While, 20:19; Alex Hatzis, 21:02, Steve Pavao, 21:04, Jeremy Buttz, 21:43; Adam Busek, 22:24 and Dano Banks, 22:49, rounded out the top men.
For the women it was Cindy Fuke, a nurse at Hilo Hospital, leading the way to win in 23 minutes and 13 seconds.
“This was a perfect day for running,” Fuke said after the race. “I’m hoping that I can someday run under 22 minutes for a 5K as it is something that I’ve set as a goal.”
Fuke used the 5K run as part of her morning workout and later hit the road to do another nine miles. “Sunday’s are always my long runs and I was hoping to get 12 to 13 miles in this morning,” she said.
Following Fuke for the women were Kaitlyn Yamamoto, 23:55; Amy Eriksson, 24:57; Esther Kanehailua, 24:57; Rae Mori, 26:45; Jill Macki, 27:47; Betty Maeua, 33:01; Jill Osborn, 33:25; and Kekai Wong-Yuen in 37:02 wrapped up the top women for the day.
Following the event the BIRR held a scholarship ceremony to honor Harada, Eriksson and Yamamoto.
“Even though I may not be leaving the BIIF (Big Island Interscholastic Federation) with many championships and titles, I consider myself a dedicated runner an am honored that this association has found me to be a worthy recipient of your scholarship. In return for this honor, I will stay worthy and commit myself to running throughout my life,” Eriksson said.
Yamamoto, who is headed to UH-Manoa, plans of being a walk on for the Rainbows cross-country team and Harada, who will be attending UHH, will continue to run in local community races.
Partial Results of Scholarship 5K run/walk held Sunday, June 7:
Donald Truesdell – 17:00
Johan Dana – 17:36
Akira Tanaka – 17:58
Amlesom Teklai – 18:01
Justin Pang – 19:20
Bryce Harada – 19:30
Shannon White – 20:19
Alex Hatzis – 21:02
Steve Pavao – 21:04
Jeremy Buttz – 21:43
Adam Busek – 22:24
Dano Banks – 22:49
Cindy Fuke – 23:13
Robert Patey – 23:34
Kaitlyn Yamamoto – 23:55
Edward Dalton – 24:00
Josh Bipert – 24:23
Amy Eriksson – 24:57
Esther Kanehailua – 24:57
Kumei Kern – 25:02
David Hammes – 26:23
Jerez Tehero – 26:42
Rae Mori – 26:45
Firman Tehero – 27:30
Jill Macki – 27:47
Betty Maeua – 33:01
Malcolm Maeua – 33:02
Richard Crowe – 33:12
Jill Osborn – 33:35
Kekai Wong Yuen – 37:02
Donna Wong Yuen – 37:04
Warren Marumoto – 39:07
Krystal Goodwin – 45:13
Lauren Hill – 45:14
Hannah Geppert – 49:51
Tom Raffipiy – 1:00.50
Ryanne Raffipiy – 1:00.51