Hilo’s Hunter has a Heart of a Lion
For Hilo’s Stephen Hunter it wasn’t a very pretty win during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation all school cross country 3 mile meet hosted by Waiakea.
Hunter a junior Viking won his first ever BIIF harrier race but needed to pause just prior to the finish line to let go of his breakfast.
The regurgitation around 30 yards from the finish nearly allowed home crowd favorite Ian McQuate to close the gap with Hunter crossing the finish in 17:40.43 to McQuate 17:48.95.
“I was just trying to beat Andrew (Langtry from St. Joseph),” Hunter said. “We try to push each other during practice and I don’t normally beat him in a race.”
During the race Hunter formed a small pack with four other runners besides Langtry, there were Parker’s Paul Gregg and Waiakea’s McQuate.
“I was running scared it helped me run better,” Hunter said. “It was a little harder to breath when I lost my breakfast on the course.”
The pause allowed McQuate to make up valuable time which almost led to having a new boy’s winner in the almost completed BIIF cross country season.
“I was more motivated today, this being my home course,” McQuate said. “Towards the end I was definitely thinking I could win this”
Still for McQuate it was his highest finish in a regular season cross country meet. “I started my
kick too late and my push didn’t have enough at the end.”
Parker’s Paul Gregg, who remains one of the most consistent runners in the BIIF finishing in the top 4, came up a little short again at Waiakea.
The senior begin his race content to follow the leaders on the rolling hills of the course and started off in a small pack.
“It was hot this morning and today I wasn’t looking to make this my best race of the season,” Gregg said. “I accomplished one of my goals in beating Langtry (4th overall).
“I’m happy where I’m at right now and the only race I really want to win is the BIIF championships on HPA’s course,” Gregg said.
In the boys team standings 13 points separated first though fourth place with Kamehameha-Hawaii 78, Honokaa 80, Hilo 82 and Hawaii Preparatory Academy 91.
In the girls 3 mile race it was HPA’s Kristiana Van Pernis (20:20) claiming her first BIIF title this season
“The game plan was to run and run fast while having fun doing it,” Van Pernis.
Van Pernis a Ka Makani junior took the lead for good on the downhill portion of the course, around the 2.5 mile mark and just pulled away from her competitors.
“Nobody challenged as I had Hilo’s Megan and Kealakehe (Kari Van Mols) staying with me up to that point,” she said.
For HPA coach Michael Franklin missing one of his better runners didn’t even faze him.
“Zoe (Sims) is out on an official visit to Princeton,” he said. “I just try to teach our girls to always run happy and to have confidence and humility. I’m more proud of being a teacher and dorm parent.”
Second in the race was another Ka Makani in Mariah Haight, another junior.
“It was really fun and I felt good,” Haight said. “I like the Waiakea course, it is really flat compared to ours and all our times are a lot faster.”
For Haight following her coach’s direction becomes second nature.
“He just told us to keep up with the Hilo girls, Mehana and Carmen,” she said. “He wanted us to go fast and have fun. I love this course but not as much as HPA’s where we have lots of group support and we know it well.”
For Hilo’s Mehana Sabado-Halperin who won her first BIIF last week came in second place this week.
“It was really hot out there which made for slow times,” Sabado-Halperin said. “I am still happy with the outcome because I tried my hardest and that is all I can do.”
Sabado-Halperin was in a battle with Van Pernis and helped each other with the course markings.
“Kristiana and I were talking and not sure where to go as we followed the cones along the course,” Sabado-Halperin said.
The Viking is quick to point out that although Van Pernis and she are competitors they are bonded together.
“We relate together through our common bond and love for running,” the Viking said. “I told her (Van Pernis) that you got this when we had less than a mile to go.”
In the girls team standings it was HPA winning with 29 points followed by Hilo with 54 and Kamehameha-Hawaii with 63.
“I’m really happy with our team’s outcome as we continue to come in second to HPA each week and we are trying our hardest,” Salbado-Halperin said. “And we’re having fun doing it.”
The BIIF season continues with two races on Saturday with a BIIF all school meet at HPA starting a 10 am.