Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Honokaa Favored to Win BIIF Cross Country Titles

Honokaa is favored to win the BIIF team titles

Honokaa is favored to win the BIIF team titles photo by Brad Ballesteros

     Prep harriers from around the island are making strides in preparation for the upcoming Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross-country season which got under way this past Saturday with a preseason meet at Christian Liberty Academy.

   The Hawaii Preparatory Academy girls and the Honokaa boys come into the season as the defending BIIF teams, each with their own hopes for the future.

   “We only have one returning senior, Melanie Ulrich, but a solid group of young runners,” Ka Makani girls coach, Michael Franklin said.

   That solid core of young runners returning for HPA is all juniors and includes Samantha Neal, Kela Vargas, Phoebe Hono and Hana Scully. 

   “If we’re competitive again this year it will be a true team effort, like last year.  Based on last season, Honokaa and Hilo will be very tough to beat, but every year this league seems to get closer and closer, so we’re not taking any positions for granted,” Franklin said.

   For the HPA boys it will be a rebuilding season as the Ka Makani lost many of their top runners to graduation.

   The biggest bright spot for the Ka Makani will be the return of Tyler Tsubota who is talented enough to make a run for the BIIF individual title.  “I do hope Tyler returns to the team,” HPA boys coach, Lupe Diaz said.

  “We also hope to have Makoa Johnson, Russell Hapgood, Sean Prentiss and Logan Martin back, but you never know with these kids.  One of our goals will be to fill many new shoes and have the boys step it up and shoot for the times our seniors had last year,” Diaz said.

   Hilo comes into the season as last year’s runner-up for both the girls and boys teams, but Coach Bill McMahon has his work cut out for himself as most of his top individual runners were lost to graduation.

   “It’s a rebuilding year for us as much as it is for the rest of the league.  We would like to qualify for State, top three team wise, in both the boys and girls,” McMahon said.

   One of the best teams this season has to be the Honokaa Dragons as the defending boy’s champions they return most of their top runners.

   Led by Christopher Mosch the Dragons are loaded with talent and depth, but Coach Joshua Abner remains mum on their chances for success.

   “I hope its okay that I’m keeping my (teams) secret for now?” Abner said in an email.

   But there is no hiding the talent behind the Dragon squads as their boys will complement Mosch with Geo Chavez-Pardini and Chayce Moniz.

Two time defending BIIF girls champion, Tia Greenwell
Two time defending BIIF girls champion, Tia Greenwell

The Honokaa girls have two times defending BIIF champion, Tia Greenwell, retuning for her junior season.

   Greenwell is one of the top cross-country runners in the state and is an overwhelming favorite to win her third consecutive BIIF title.

   Dragon teammates Athena Oldfather and Katherine Aguilar will add to the team’s firepower and gives them the edge to win the league team title.

   The Kamehameha girls, under veteran coach Joel Truesdell, has some firepower of their own with Bronte Kaneakua leading the way for the Warriors.

   “Bronte is looking very strong and behind her is a pack of three, consisting of Corin Kim, Erin Carvalho and Kalena Shiroma,” Truesdell said.

   Truesdell remains uncertain about his team coming into the season.  “We won’t know how competitive we are until we see the other teams,” he said.

   The BIIF cross-country championships will be held at Kamehameha on October 24 and will give the Warrior squad a slight advantage on their home turf.

   The public school Warrior girls also have some firepower that might compete with the rest of the league as they return most of their fourth place squad from last year.

Waiakea's Lauren Hill
Waiakea’s Lauren Hill

Leading the way is senior, Kaitlyn Chock, along with youngsters Kelsie Kobayashi, Erin Yoshida and Lauren Hill.

   If Waiakea can find more depth beyond their number four runner they may also be a contender for a team title.

   Returning to the coaching scene after a brief hiatus is Keaau’s Donna Wong Yuen who takes the helm for both the Cougar squads.

   Wong Yuen has two top notch runners returning in sophomore Deaan Nishimura-Thornton and football star Daniel Brooks.  Both athletes made an impact on their team’s success last year and should fare well again this season.

August 30, 2009 - Posted by | High School Runners, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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