Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Keaau Elementary Mighty Milers Program

Happy Keaau Elementary runners break 5,000 miles

   As a retired public school with over 30 years in the classroom I know the impact we have over young, developing minds.  Next to parents, teachers have the ability to leave long lasting footprints in the hearts of those they touch.

   Television news correspondent Dan Rather said, “The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.”

   In this day of large scale obesity amongst our youth with too much time spent sitting in front of a screen it’s wonderful to see teachers taking the time to reinforce to their students the need for physical exercise.

   Two years ago, at Keaau Elementary School, fifth grade teachers began a commitment to their students to have them become members of the New York Road Runners Club Mighty Milers program.

   The NYRRC  Might Miles program promotes regular running in which students are provide an online database for logging their miles as well as incentives when benchmark distances are attained.

Maile Billosi

   “Our entire Fifth Grade participates, roughly 110 students,” KES teacher Maile Bellosi said.  “It is especially poignant in light of the prospective budget cuts proposed at the Middle School level in dropping the track program.”

   Bellosi was the teacher who instigated the NYRRC Might Milers program when she first joined the staff at KES.

   “It has really been a joint effort of the five homeroom teachers to encourage physical fitness and health while enjoying the social atmosphere of group exercise,” she said.

   The fees associated with gaining membership into the Might Milers were waived due to KES being a Title One School.  Students run laps on a measured course at least once per week.  They then graph their personal times in some classes and are encouraged to better their own personal times through “modifications in strategies.”

   “Classes earn group reward for hitting 500 and 1,000 miles and individual students receive quality medals for each marathon they run,” Bellosi said.

   According to Bellosi there are several students that will be surpassing the 100 mile mark for the year and will earn their fourth marathon medal.  (A marathon distance is 26.2 miles.)

The KES Fifth Grade class goal was to reach a combined distance of 5,000 miles during the school year and for good reason.

   “We set our goal as a grade level to run a cumulative distance of 5,000 miles to virtually run to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.,” Bellosi said.  “We will definitely make that goal before the end of the year and to celebrate we’re heading to Kilauea Iki to hike across the crater together.”

   (KES reached the goal of 5,000 miles sooner than Bellosi originally thought as Big Dog was on hand to witness the special occasion this past Wednesday.)

   Bellosi and her team of fifth grade teachers also practice what they preach as they are physically fit and trim.  Teachers include Ryan Ideta, who coaches tennis full time after school, April Baptiste, who dances in a halau and will compete at Merrie Monarch, David Alipio, who competes in surf and paddleboard contest, and more.

   Bellosi herself comes from a running family of ten brothers and sisters that combined have run more than 150 marathons. 

   “I come from a running family from Oahu,” she said.  “As we grew up we all started competing in races as we traveled all over the state to run the various island marathons.”

   Bellosi’s father is a physician at Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu and he always preached the benefits of running.  Besides regular fitness runs Bellosi and the KES staff teach the value of a healthy diet to their students.

   “The snacks at our weekly meetings usually consist of nuts, low fat popcorn, and wheat crackers,” Bellosi said.  “We support and encourage the students to eat well in order to support their fitness gains from running.”

Keaau’s Mighty Milers show their marathon medals

The students are given fresh fruits and vegetables in both school provided meals and they receive a bonus afternoon snack of fruit once per week through a grant received by the school.

   “Eighty percent of our students are receiving free or reduced cost meals,” Bellosi said.  “Through Achieve 3000, an online reading program we are using, students are assigned many pertinent stories about health and wellness to further educate them about the foods they eat and the lifestyle choices they make.”

   Keaau Elementary School is also very fortunate in having a principal, Keone Farias, that is also a runner and supports program being promoted at the fifth grade level.  Farias will come out to watch the kids run and he participates in the medal ceremonies.

   “This program is a wonderful opportunity for our kids,” Farias said.  “The running program promotes a healthy lifestyle for our kids which helps them focus on learning.  I just wish we could do more.”

   There is no better way to learn than by actually doing.  And when you have good role models surrounding you and helping you along, odds are that these simple gifts of knowledge will be carried on throughout their lives.

   “For many of our students running is a sport that they can do, physically, financially, and in the environment they are being raised,” Bellosi said.  “It requires so little by way of prep, materials, or equipment.”


April 5, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BIIF’s Best Move Up in Track Rankings

Hilo's Shina Chung ranks #2 in state pole vault

KEAAU – In a day of super highs several East Hawaii youngsters positioned themselves in the number 2 position in the state during a Big Island Interscholastic Federation track & field meet held this past Saturday at Keaau.

   Hilo’s Shina Chung, Kamehameha’s Kaopua Sutton and Keaau’s Daniel Brooks all gave super efforts during week two of the BIIF track & field season.

  Chung, only a sophomore, set a new personal record in the pole vault with her clearing height of 9 feet 8 inches, 14 inches higher than she went last week.

  “The biggest thing for me was getting a bigger pole and making the transition,” Chung said of her clearance that ranks her second in the state.

   “I went to a 120 pound, 12 feet 6 inch pole and it worked for me today.  I’m really happy with my personal best and I now feel confident that I can get to 10 feet,” she said.

  Hilo’s vault coach, Sherman Viernes, believes that Chung will be able to clear 10 feet within the next few meets.

  “Shina tried 10 feet today, but the end of the pole died,” Viernes said.  “For somebody not knowing much about pole vaulting prior to last year she has come a long way.  The only thing stopping her now is her mental focus, once she figures that out she’ll be able to go even higher.”

   While Chung was conquering new heights Kamehameha’s Kaopua Sutton was finding new distances.


   The Warrior senior threw the discus further than she has ever thrown it before, 123 feet 8.5 inches, to record the second best distance in the state.

   “Last year my personal best in the BIIF was 115 feet and when I went to states I threw 117 feet,” Sutton said.  “I’ve been hitting 120 feet during practice, so I knew I could do it.”

   Sutton, who stands 5’ 10” is the defending BIIF champion in the discus and she owes much of her success to her mental attitude.

   “I raised my mental focus and now I think I can go at least 130 feet in this event,” she said.  “I’m pretty stoked with what I did today.”


Not to be outdone Keaau’s Daniel Brooks made a bold statement prior to running the 1500 meter race.  “I plan on going under 4 minutes 20 seconds,” Brooks said during warm ups.

  The Cougar senior had to run his own race as no one in the field was capable of keeping up with his torrid pace.

  After the first lap Brooks had already built a 20-meter lead and continued building on the lead going into the bell lap when he opened the gap to 70 meters over his closest competition.

  At the tape Brooks clocked in with a 4:15.96 a full second faster than his personal best time and good enough to list him as the fourth fastest in the state this year.

  “I felt really good today and I knew I could get under 4:20,” he said.  “I’ve set my goals high in my senior season and I’m going to try to run 4 flat by the time states rolls around.”

  “I’m hoping to get a scholarship to a mainland college to run track,” Brooks said.  “In order to get that scholarship I need to get my 1500 time down to 4 minutes and my 800 time to 1:56.”

  Brooks later returned to the track to win the 800 meters in 2:03.89, three seconds faster than the previous week.

   “I’m happy with my 800 time and I still have a ways to go, but this is good for this point in the season,” he said.  “I still need to run the 4×400 relay later today and next week I’d like to mix things up and get a good 3000 time.”

  Brooks is looking forward to Saturdays all-schools meet to be held at Kamehameha as this would be the first time this season that he will match up with Honokaa’s best distance runner Chris Mosch.

  “I know Chris will really push me as we’ll be able to help each other run faster,” Brooks said.  “I’m looking forward to the competition.”

   Mosch ran his 1500 at Konawaena in 4:25, but is considered to be one of the best 3000 meter runners in the state.


In the girls 300 hurdles it was Keaau’s Azmera Hammouri-Davis getting the win in 50.9 seconds.

  “Last year I ran 50.05 seconds and my goal would be to break 50 seconds and hopefully get down to 48 by the end of the season,” she said.

   “I think I’m stuttering before I hit the hurdle,” Hammouri-Davis said.  “I need to be faster out of the blocks and work on my technique more in order to get a faster time.”

   Saturday’s meet at Keaau was an Eastern Division contest with Konawaena hosting a Western Division meet.

   The BIIF is the only league that has two fully automated timing systems and both were in full operation.  Chris Drayer handled the FAT system at Kona while Curt Beck and Bob Martin operated the other FAT system at Keaau.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | High School Track & Field, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments