Lady Ka Makani looking to continue BIIF Cross Country Dynasty
The Hawaii Prep girls cross country program doesn’t don Yankee pinstripes, it doesn’t channel Celtic pride and it’s never celebrated their victories with the Lambeau leap. But in its own realm, Ka Makani wahine are every bit as dominant.
Since 1980 the ladies from Hawaii Preparatory Academy have dominated the Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross county winning league titles in 27 of the past 31 years, according to Ka Makani athletic director Stephen Perry.
The BIIF cross country season opens this Saturday with the HPA girls team coming in as heavy favorites to win yet another league championship.
Waiakea (1983 & 1991) and Kamehameha (2005 & 2007) were the only other schools to win BIIF girls team titles and HPA looks on track to continue their cross country dominance.
Ka Makani return four of the varsity seven from last year’s league champions with Zoe Sims, Emily Evans, Kristiana Van Pernis and Mariah Haight leading the way.
Head coach Michael Franklin returns at the helm, but down plays his team’s goal of winning another league title.
“Truly, people don’t believe me when I say this, but winning a championship is not one of our goals,” Franklin said. “Our goals are simple as they come from the basic philosophy that life is more satisfying if one pushes him or herself beyond perceived limits.”
Franklin believes that his harriers need to focus on themselves and their team rather than on trying to win a league championship.
“Focusing on winning a championship would require too much attention on others,” he said. “We really have a team focus.”
Ka Makani girls finished second in the state last season and this year is considered the team to challenge Punahou again for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association title.
“This is the strongest team that I have yet coached at HPA,” Franklin said. “That does not mean that it is the fastest team. It is the strongest because of its unified spirit and unanimous love for the running lifestyle. Whether we win or lose races, this team’s attitude makes it exceptional.”
Gunning for the girl’s title will be the Warriors of Kamehameha as Coach Joel Truesdell return five of his top seven girls.
“This is the first time since we last won the BIIF championship that we return this many varsity starters,” Truesdell said.
Kamehameha returns three girls that were in the top 20 at the BIIF championships last season in Tiana Iwata (12th), Corin Kim (16th) and Erin Carvalho (20th).
“We’ve got some depth on our girl’s squad as we have 8 girls running in the lead pack,” Truesdell said. “Our goals are the same as last year, to get a full team into states.”
Also shooting to get a full team to qualify for the state championship is Hilo’s veteran coach, Bill McMahon.
“Our top two returning girls are Shalila De Bournmont and Carmen Garson-Shumway,” McMahon said. “Our boy’s team are all young, but I do have a good sized group.”
Waiakea’s fastest girl is Kelsie Kobayashi and she will be anchored by Haley Rasse, Vanessa Ignacio, Skye Ombac, and Vandey Okinaka, according to Coach Jordan Rosado.
“We have a large team, with 40 boys and 28 girls,” Rosado said. “I feel we have as good a chance to compete for the boy’s team title as anyone else, since Honokaa lost some of their best runners to graduation.”
Waiakea will be led by Jackson Halford and Keoni Rice with Ian McQuate, Hajime Hiyano and Dyson Sato providing needed support according to Rosado.
Honokaa, returns as the four time defending league champion, but has some holes to fill from last season.
“Chayce Moniz, Clayton Robinson, Pedro Sanches, Robert Conners, Tony Conners, Riston Matias, Koa Phenice, Sean Quinlan, Justin Warren, and Mason Wilkes are our returners,” Coach Joshua Abner said.
Abner lost three of his seven starters from last year, including two time individual BIIF champion Chris Mosch, which leaves the door open for several teams to vie for the team title.
“Every day is an open tryout for us and every one of these boys are hungry,” Abner said.
Last season’s big surprise came from the boys at Parker School as Coach Ceri Whitfield qualified her team for the HHSAA.
“I feel with the hard work these boys put into their training they have as much chance as any of the other schools to come in first,” Whitfield said. “They are very committed and positive about their chances this year as they work very hard.”
Leading the way for the Bulls is Jesse Tarnas who will brings a solid core of runners which includes Jesse Tarnas, Paul Gregg, Tyler McCullough, Jess Burns and Evan Kasberg.
Kamehameha boys coach, Ryan Cabalse, has four returnees that made it to the state championships last season in Shawn Correa-Doll, Kaulana Ho, Colton Hill, and Jonah Knell.
“Our boy’s squad has never qualified as a team for states yet, (five from the same team need to qualify to score as a team) but we are hoping to contend for one of the automatic team slots this season,” Cabalse said.
St. Joseph returns one of the best BIIF runners in Andrew Langtry who is expected to challenge for the individual league crown. Langtry ran in various community races during the off season and was often seen in the top leader board.
Keaau brings 41 boys and 15 girls into competition with returnees Deann Nishimura-Thornton and Natalie Hagemann leading the girls while Jhun-Delle Venture, Davin Alviento, Greg Matias, Arman Navarro and Adrian Martinez headline the boy’s squad, according to Coach Donna Wong Yuen.
Though difficult, we always want to try and qualify a team for states,” Wong Yuen said. “Our goals are to have fun and improve from last year.”
Christian Liberty Academy doesn’t have any girls on their cross country team but will bring 10 boys to the starting line, according to Coach Frank Grotenhuis.
“Caeden Cambra and Keenen Freitas are the two fastest on the team,” Grotenhuis said. “We’re looking at having the boys push hard so that they can achieve their personal best.”
The BIIF harriers get off to a running start on Saturday with Grotenhuis as his CLA family playing host to the Canefire Conditioner starting at 10 am on the Keaau campus.