Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Ucker has best collegiate finish during Pac West home meet

Pac West Men's 4 mile race, photo by Brad Balleseros

Keoni Ucker

Home course advantage played a huge role this past Saturday as Keoni Ucker took his distance running to a new level in the Pacific West Conference.

The University of Hawaii at Hilo hosted a 4 mile men’s and 3.7 mile women’s cross country meet on the grounds of the Naniloa Golf Course in Hilo.

Ucker, a graduate of Christian Liberty Academy, surprised the home town crowd by going out with the lead pack during the first mile of the race.

“I was pumped for this race and actually took the lead briefly during the first mile.  I was in a group of three or four runners during the early stages,” he said.

Going into the race Ucker’s best finish in collegiate competition had been a seventh place finish earlier this season, but with family and friends cheering his every step the former CLA star took his running to a higher level.

Eventual winner, Thomas Puzey from Bingham Young University, separated himself from the pack after the first mile and Ucker was left in a battle for second with BYUH’s Justin Royer.

“Royer and I surged back and forth for most of the race as we tried to stay in contact with the lead runner,” Ucker said.

During the final 200 yards with the finish line in sight Royer took a slim lead over Ucker as both men dug deep for the runner up spot.

Royer crossed the finish line in 20:59 with Ucker just three seconds behind.

“I’m really happy with this race and I loved the course.  This is by far the best race I’ve ever had in college,” Ucker said of his third place finish.

Nick Hagemann

Vulcan teammate, Nick Hagemann, finished in 11th place and was the second of six UHH men in the field of 28.

“I went out kinda fast and clocked a 5:09 for my first mile,” Hagemann said.

  Hagemann, a 2008 graduate of Keaau High, matched his previous best Pac West finish and was pleased with his performance.

   “We’ve been having some really hard practices and we still haven’t tapered yet.  I liked this new course better than the old one and I thought we had some pretty fast times.  I think I’ve finally made the adjustment between juggling school, work and running,” Hagemann said.

Thomas Puzey

BYUH’s Thomas Puzey won the race in 20:49 and led his powerful Seasider team to victory over Hawaii Pacific University, UHH and Chaminade.

“This was my second Pac West win and I found the middle miles difficult to maintain my focus,” Puzey said.

Puzey had lots of praise for teammate Matthew Glulden who finished in 12th place saying that Glulden was coming off an eight day rest from injury.

“Thomas usually beats me in races and he always pushes me in practice.  If he’d (Glulden) been in shape today who knows what would of happened,” Puzey said.

The women’s race followed the men and by that time the rain clouds had disappeared and the sun was out with the humidity climbing which made it more challenging for the ladies.

Frida Aspneas

HPU’s Frida Aspnaes wasn’t hampered by the weather conditions and took the lead from start to finish as she methodically distanced herself from the rest of the field winning in a time of 22:14.

“It was difficult to keep up my speed and more difficult to run by myself,” Aspnaes said.

Aspnaes is in her first semester at HPU and moved to Hawaii from Sweden.

“I never ran in high school or college before as I participated in a sport called orienteering in Sweden.  Orienteering is very big in Scandinavia and it accounts for my physical conditioning,” she said.

Vulcan harrier, Kaylene Peric, looked to be in fine form to finish her best race of the season when she ran in a pack with BYUH’s Lacey Krout and Katherine Buxton as the trio fought for second place.

Peric encountered problems during the second half of the race and looked to be in serious trouble before dropping out of the race with about a mile and a half to go.

UHH’s Kirsta Andrew, who has led the team during the entire year, had the Vulcan’s best finish in 7th overall.

Kapua Lapera

Finishing in 17th was Vulcan Kapua Lapera who is a former hurdler for Kau, graduating in 2007.

“I never ran cross country in high school as bowling was during the same season.  I was offered a college scholarship to run track and do hurdles on the mainland, but turned it down,” she said.

Last season Lapera was invited to work out with the Vulcan women and this year she decided to give cross country a try.

“I wanted to come out and have fun with running and I’m still trying to convert from a sprinter to a distance runner,” Lapera said.

Lapera had been out during the week due to illness, but wanted to run on Saturday to help as a scoring team.

In cross country place scores are given to the first five members of the team to cross the finish line.  As it turned out the lady Vulcan’s only had four finishers and did not qualify for team scoring.

Related links:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/pacific-west-confrence-results/

https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/pacific-west-cross-country-team-photos/

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment