Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

UHH cross country to host Pac West Meet at Naniloa Golf Course

start of Pac West men’s race

Play on the Naniloa Golf Course will be suspended for 90 minutes on Saturday while the University of Hawaii at Hilo cross country teams run loops around the fairways.

UHH plays host to a Pacific West Conference Invitational Meet with harriers from Bingham Young-Hawaii, Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific University weave their way around the golf courses manicured grounds.

“As soon as I found out that there was a new golf course manager and that the Naniloa was a sponsor I gave it a shot and asked if we could host a meet on their course,” UHH Coach Jaime Guerpo said.

Guerpo jumped at the chance of using the golf course as a new venue for his UHH team and designed a spectator friendly course that has runners passing by the clubhouse and driving range.

“This is a great place to hold a cross country meet,” Guerpo said.  “We will be able to see more of the race with the runners going pass us for a mile in one direction and then passing through again, going in the opposite direction.”

Guerpo is also happy that none of the course runs on asphalt or crosses roads.

“We’re able to save money because we don’t need to rent a cop for traffic as the entire event is run on the golf course.  It is also safer in that there is no traffic and it is truly a cross country course,” he said.

Keoni Ucker

Showcasing the men’s field will be a solid BYUH team that has dominated the Pac West during the season.

“BYUH has three top men that are always leading the pack,” Guerpo said.

Thomas Puzey, Mathew Gulden and Justin Roger lead the Seasiders which won the Chaminade Invitational by 58 points over second place Alaska Fairbanks.

The Vulcan’s Keoni Ucker has been the top gun during the season breaking into the top 10 in each of his Pac West meets which included a seventh place finish at Chaminade the previous week.

Ucker, a former state track & field champion from Christian Liberty Academy, came into his own this season and has developed into a formidable competitor.

“I like the new course and it seems like it will be flat with fast times,” Ucker said.  “The race starts at the driving range and we do a couple of loops around the perimeter of the golf course, each time passing by the driving range which will give spectators a good opportunity to Csee us run.”

Ucker’s best finish this season has been fifth place overall when he ran in the Big Wave Invitational hosted by UH Manoa and when you remove an unattached runner from that race he finish fourth among Pac West competitors.

“I’m hoping to stay within the top five this week as this is our home course and we will have an advantage.  I feel more energized overall and I’m looking forward to doing well,” Ucker said.

James Imai

The Vulcan seven man squad is loaded with Big Island talent which includes Justin Pang, CLA; Nick Hagemann, Keaau; and James Imai, Waiakea.

Imai, a 2009 graduate, is in his first year of collegiate competition and is excited about running on the new course.

“It is very challenging with great competition,” Imai said of running for the Vulcan’s.  “We’ve had practice runs on the golf course twice and it should be a lot of fun this Saturday.  Running for UH Hilo is the best choice I’ve ever made.”

For the women it has been all Frida Aspnaes from HPU dominating the Pac West field.  UHH’s Krista Andrew remains the top runner for the Vulcan’s, but has had difficulty being consistent.

BYUH women dominate the team scoring as they have been able to get a solid core of five runners into the finish before any other squad.

Vulcan Women

Out of the five women racing for the Vulcan’s two are from the Big Island in Liliana Desmither, Hilo; and Kapua Lapera, Kau.

“Team wise we are not as strong as in years past, but this group of kids work just as hard as any team that I have coached.  I believe that we will fare well on Saturday,” Coach Guerpo said.

“We’d like to see people come out and support collegiate distance running.  I’d advise people who wanted to watch to go to the club house or driving range because those areas will give the best views,” Guerpo said.

The men will start at 8 am with a 4 mile race and the women will follow with a 6K (3.7 miles) according to Guerpo. 

“Collegiate men at this level usually race at 5 miles or 8 km and junior college runners will do 4 miles, but I decided to host this distance. The women in our conference will either race at the 5 or 6 km distance,” Guerpo said. 

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments