HPA’s Sims, Honokaa’s Moniz, crowned BIIF cross country champions
KEAAU – Honokaa’s Chayce Moniz and Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Zoe Sims won individual cross country titles and in the process led the Honokaa boys and HPA girls to team titles during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross country championships held Saturday at Kamehameha.
For Moniz and Sims it was the first time either had crossed the finished line in first place during a season of parity and unpredictability.
Sims credited her win to flying fruit, saying that images of being a plantain traveling through the air at 70 miles per hour made the difference during the race.
“I kept thinking of a poem our coach, Michael Franklin, read to the team called Problems with Hurricanes, as I kept seeing all these flying fruit during the race and I was a plantain,” Sims said.
With Sims victory the BIIF had seen six different girls win a meet in six weeks, with four of those girls wearing the red and white Ka Makani uniform.
“I had fun today running with my teammates in the lead pack,” Sims said. “We talked to each other and encouraged each other.”
Sims ran with teammates and previous BIIF winners, Kristiana Van Pernis and Mariah Haight as the threesome led from start to finish, while exchanging words.
Waiakea’s Kelsie Kobayashi and Hilo’s Carmen Garson-Shumway tried their best to stay with the leaders, but in the end finished in fourth and fifth respectively.
“I’m really excited about winning this race and I don’t want the season to end,” Sims said.
“Whenever Zoe would say something to me during the race, I answered her back,” runner up Van Pernis said. “Zoe would say plantain and I’d say coconut. The idea was to focus on other things and take the pressure off running.”
“We always try to read poems to them before each race and we’d expect them to take that into the race,” Franklin said of his unusual race tactic.
Ka Makani girls dominated the team competition, as they’ve done all season long, capturing their fourth consecutive league title and their 34th league crown in the last 38 season.
“I guess now the secret to our success is out,” Franklin said with a wide grin. “The ability to have six different winners in six weeks is a complement to the credit of the running programs on the Big Island”
Franklin also gave credit to HPA’s rich tradition of winning cross country titles to his predecessor, Stan Shutes.
“I walked into this program and I’m just glad that I can continue it during the years that I’ve been here, but Stan, who passed away this year, deserves much of the credit,” Franklin said.
Franklin’s assistant coach, Sarah Hayslip, English teacher at HPA, has implemented the reading of poems along with Franklin during the regular Monday team meeting.
“Our girls are made stronger by the level of talent here on the Big Island,” Franklin said. “Girls like Kelsie and Carmen push our girls to be better and we are appreciative of the caliber of running they bring each week.”
Waiakea’s Kobayashi, a senior, was very pleased with her fourth place finish saying that she ran her best.
“I am blessed for having a supportive team, coaches and competitors,” Kobayashi said. “I am also grateful to have had my parents at every race during my four years of running.”
Ka Makani harriers won the varsity 3 mile team scoring with 24 points followed by Hilo with 82.
In the boys race it was a health Chayce Moniz showing what he is capable of doing when healthy.
Moniz had been out early in the season with an illness, according to Honokaa Athletic Director Keith Tolentino.
“The boys team (Honokaa) had either illness or injuries throughout the season and we only got to see them running together in the last two meets,” Tolentino said. “Our coaches, Josh Abner and Johnny Anderson, work really hard with the kids and they really push them. Bottom line is whoever steps up during the last meet is what matters and these kids peaked at the right time.”
The Honokaa coaches and team declined to be interviewed after winning their fifth consecutive team title.
“I’m sorry, but my team and I have no comment and we don’t want to be interviewed until after states,” Moniz said.
Moniz victory was the only one of the season and Waiakea’s Jackson Halford who had won most of the meets during the season having high praise of his competitor.
“I ran my hardest and Chayce earned the win,” Halford said. “I just tried pacing off him during the race as I didn’t expect him to be in the lead and he took me by surprise.”
Moniz and teammate Tony Conners took the early lead with a pack of four runners, in Halford, St Joseph’s Andrew Langtry, Kamehameha’s Shawn Correa Doll, Makua Lani’s Brandt Mabuni and Parkers Paul Gregg in hot pursuit.
“I never expected Chayce to hold the lead for the entire three miles,” Halford said. “I was expecting him to die out at the end, but he didn’t.”
Honokaa beat out Waiakea in team scoring, 50 to 65, with a philosophical Waiakea coach Jordan Rosado.
“I’m happy with our second place finish,” Rosado said. “It is better than coming in third.”
The top two boys and girls teams, HPA and Hilo, along with Honokaa and Waiakea, won the automatic berth to the HHSAA championships along with the top 38 boys and 37 girls to the state championship coming up on Saturday on the island of Maui.