Looking to see some of the best prep runners on the Big Island? Then head out to the north end of the island and the home of the Dragons and Ka Makani.
The Honokaa boys are the two time Big Island Interscholastic Federation team champions and two of their boys will be vying for top individual honors this Saturday when Kamehameha plays host to the league championships.
Dragons Chris Mosch and Joshua Robinson have shared top honors in every BIIF race that they have entered during the regular season.
Robinson has dominated in the hilly courses at Kealakehe and Hawaii Prep, while teammate Mosch has won at Kohala and the two previous meets held at Kamehameha.
Going into the BIIF championships the Dragon boys are the clear favorites to three peat for the title while Mosch gets the slight edge to claim his first individual title.
“I’m going to run my own race at the BIIF championships no matter what and regardless of others expectations,” Mosch said.
Much of the Dragon success comes from their work ethic and dedication to the sport, along with some natural harrier talent.
“We work very hard and everyone on the team gets very involved in their training,” Mosch said of Honokaa’s success in running.
While the Dragon boys have the fast track on winning the team title Mosch will need to go out hard and maintain the pace to come away with the individual crown.
“I think that Dylan (Hardie-Jordan), Tyler (Tsubota), Daniel (Brooks), Josh (Robinson) and I all have a good shot at winning. Anything can happen and I wouldn’t count anyone out,” Mosch said.
In the last regular season race it was HPA’s Tyler Tsubota taking second to Mosch with a 16 second gap, with Makua Lani’s Dylan Hardie-Jordan a half-step behind to claim third.
Keaau’s Daniel Brooks, who does double duty as a Cougar harrier and wide receiver on the football team, finished second to Mosch at the first Kamehameha meet staying within nine seconds of the Dragon.
Brooks won both East Division meets at Waiakea while Mosch and Robinson were winning the West Division.
For the girl’s team title perennial champions HPA has the inside track. Led by Kela Vargas the lady Ka Makani have a host of talented runners, that include freshmen Zoe Sims and Emily Evans, and are capable of placing all seven varsity runners in the BIIF top 20.
“Going into the finals I’m telling my runners what I’ve told them all season, have fun as a team and inspire each other to run fast,” HPA coach Michael Franklin said.
Franklin is in his fourth season as Ka Makani girls head coach and has won two BIIF titles during the past three years.
“Honokaa, Waiakea and Hilo are all very strong teams,” Franklin said. “Honokaa and Waiakea have great individuals and Hilo is deep, has good coaching and always seems to peak at just the right time.”
Honokaa’s junior, Tialana Greenwell, will be gunning for her third consecutive individual BIIF crown. Greenwell, who placed second in the state last year, continues to be undefeated in Big Island competition dating back to her freshman year.
Dragon teammate, Athena Oldfather, could give Honokaa a one-two punch, but Oldfather will be challenged by Vargas, along with Waiakea harriers Kaitlyn Chock and Kelsie Kobayashi.
Makua Lani’s Grace Choe, Hilo’s Shalila de Bourmont and Kamehameha’s Bronte Kaneakua all have the experience and talent to finish in the top five on Saturday.
With the top three boy’s teams and top three girls teams advancing to the state championships on Kauai on October 31 the boy’s and girl’s teams with the advantage going into the BIIF finale are Honokaa, HPA and Hilo.
Outside teams with a shot of making the top three are the Makua Lani, Kamehameha and Waiakea for the girls, along with the Keaau, Christian Liberty and Makua Lani for the boys.
For those teams that don’t advance the league will select the top 16 boys and top 17 girls for participation at the state championships.
“The whole league (BIIF) feels stronger this year and one of the great things about this sport is that on any given day, anything could happen. But, I’m not really thinking about other teams at this point because we are just focused on running our best race,” Franklin said.