Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Big Island Road Runners gave over $16,000 in scholarships over the years



YEAR                 MALE                                          FEMALE

2006         Stefano Barbis – Hilo                 Malia Williams – Hilo

2007        Eamon Harriy – Kona                 Sarah Chitwood – Hilo

                Keoni Ucker – CLA (50%)

2008      Nick Hagemann – Keaau             Jamilia Epping – Keaau

              Nick Ucker- CLA (50%)

2009     Bryce Harada – Waiakea              Amy Eriksson – Keaau

                                                               Kaitlyn Yamamoto-Kamehameha (50%)

2010    Sai Weiss – Hilo                            Kaitlyn Chock – Waiakea

2011   Rogelio Barroga – Keaau                Hana Scully – HPA

2012   Robert Connors – Honokaa           Deann Nishimura-Thornton – Keaau

                                                                   Kelsie Kobayashi – Waiakea (50%)

The money for the BIRR scholarships was provided by Richard and Virginia Alderson.   Each year the BIRR five member scholarship committee reviews the numerous applications to made the awards.


June 26, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UHH to cut Men’s & Women’s Cross Country Programs

 UHH to eliminate men’s & women’s cross country:  Inside sources have leaked that the athletic department, under Dexter Irvin, is looking to make 10 percent budget cuts in the 2011 – 2012 season.Irvin and his staff have decided to eliminate, or suspend for two years, the men’s and women’s cross country program.Getting rid of cross country would save the Vulcan athletic department approximately $100,000 per year which would fit into the goal of reducing cost by 10 percent.Cross country is a non revenue producing sport and the UHH athletic department is looking at ways of increasing revenue.Many of our local runners have gone onto run at the collegiate level at UHH under Coach Jaime Guerpo who has recruited heavily within the state.

Keoni and Nick Ucker, along with Justin Pang formerly of Christian Liberty Academy; James Imai from Waiakea, Nick and Nina Hagemann of Keaau, Stefano Barbis and Milia Williams from Hilo, are just a few of the many talented local runners that Guerpo had recruited in recent years.

The athletic department is more concerned with high profile sports that can generate revenue as sports such as cross country, golf and tennis may be on its way out.

Coach Guerpo hasn’t given up and will be presenting a variety of options to the UHH athletic department.  If you’d like to help you can write letters to the UHH athletic department and address it to Mr. Dexter Irvine.

I hope the program can somehow be salvaged. 

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Weiss and Chock win BIRR Scholarship

Sai Weiss

A few days ago members of the Big Island Road Runners scholarship committee met to look over the many applications sent in by prep runners seeking the one of two $1000 cash awards that is to be presented this year.

   Thanks, in part, to a generous gift provided by Richard and Virginia Alderson the BIRR, since 2006, have been giving away cash scholarships to at least two deserving high school seniors from the Big Island.

   Past winners include:

  2006 – Hilo’s Stefano Barbis and Malia Williams

  2007 – Hilo’s Sarah Chitwood and Konawaena’s Eamon Harrity with a half scholarship to Christian Liberty’s Keoni Ucker

   2008 – Keaau’s Nick Hagemann and Jamilia Epping with a half scholarship to CLA’s Nick Ucker

   2009 – Keaau’s Amy Eriksson and Waiakea’s Bryce Harada with a half scholarship to Kamehameha’s Kaitlyn Yamamoto

   What is impressive is that all of the past awardees were scholar athletes and most went on to run cross-country in college.

   Barbis, Williams, Hagemann, and both Ucker’s currently run for Jaime Guerpo and the University of Hawaii at Hilo Vulcan’s, while Yamamoto was a walk on at UH Manoa this past season and claimed the important number seven spot for the Rainbows.

   This year the scholarship committee chaired by Big Dog, with voting members Dano Banks, Joseph Kamelamela and the Alderson’s meet to look over the qualified applicants and read over their essays on how running has influenced their lives.

   “It wasn’t an easy decision,” Virginia Alderson said.  “There were many good applicants who are scholar athletes that have been involved in many community service projects.”

    After careful review the scholarship committee selected Hilo’s Sai Weiss and Waiakea’s Kaitlyn Chock.

   Both Weiss and Chock ran cross-country and track all four years at their respective schools and both are academically gifted with Weiss carrying a 3.5 grade point average and Chock a 3.9 GPA.

Kaitlyn Chock

Besides running Weiss is also a 1st degree black belt in Aikido.  “Sai has been our aikido student since he was about 8 years old,” Sensei Robert Klein said.  “To understand the context of his accomplishment, in the thirty years our dojo has existed, there have only been three teens who received a black belt from us while still in high school.”

   Chock is also a gifted athlete winning Waiakea’s Most Outstanding Athlete award in cross-country and track for the past two years.  The multi talented Warrior also helped anchor her swim team in both relay events.

   Both Weiss and Chock are Key Club members and have chaired various community activities from helping with the Big Island International Marathon, to volunteering with Special Olympics track & field events.

   “We are so pleased that there are so many fine young and men and women in our public school system and Sai and Kaitlyn are two fine examples,” Richard Alderson said.

   “The only problem we have had with Sai over the years is that sometimes he can’t attend our aikido class and events because he’s busy with those troublesome track meets,” Sensei Klein said with a smile.

   Weiss has been accepted to Southern Oregon University and Chock will be attending the University of Oregon, Robert D. Clark Honor’s College.

   “I am very surprised and humbled by this scholarship,” Weiss said.  “The money will help finance my education and I would like to thank my coaches, parents and fellow athletes in helping me get to where I am today.”

   Weiss plans on majoring on Environmental Studies and Business while Chock plans on entering Liberal Arts.

   “I’m excited that I was selected for this scholarship,” Chock said.  “Thanks to my Dad as he has always been my motivation to try hard.”

   The BIRR which was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1973 has been promoting health and fitness through running and walking events in East Hawaii will recognize Weiss and Chock in a formal ceremony at the end of their Scholarship 5K (3.1-mile) fun run/walk on Sunday, May 23.

   The Scholarship Run/Walk starts at 7:30 am near the entrance to the Moku Ola (Coconut Island) parking area. 

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BYUH Sweeps Vulcan cross-country meet

Photo's by Tim Wright

Photo's by Tim Wright

What amounted to great beach day weather on Saturday turned into a difficult and challenging day for collegiate harriers in Hilo.

   The University of Hawaii at Hilo played host to a Cross-Country Invitational Meet with schools from the  Pacific West Conference , along with Victor Valley College from the So Cal conference.

   Jaime Guerpo, coach of the Vulcan men and women squads, designed a challenging course that started on the girl’s softball field at Waiakea High School and traversed the perimeters of the entire Waiakea Complex before heading back  to the finish line at the UHH athletic department.

    “I had to modify the course several times as Waiakea Inter had construction going on,” Guerpo said.  “What was supposed to be a 6K course (3.8-miles) was actually closer to 4-miles.”

   The extra distance was the least of the runners concerns as the beautiful, sunny day in Hilo was complemented with high temperatures and humidity that made the mid morning start difficult for most runners.

Quinn Horochuk
Quinn Horochuk

For the women it was Hawaii Pacific University’s Quinn Horochuk claiming top honors in a time of 25 minutes and 34 seconds.

    “This is probably the hardest course of all the races I’ve done this year,” Horochuk said.  “With the heat and the hills it made for a very difficult race.”

    Horochuk won her first race in her four years at HPU, partially due to her attitude.  “Hey, this is my senior year, and I might as well make it count,” she said after winning the race.

   Two weeks ago at the Big Wave Invitational, hosted by UH Manoa, Horochuk placed third overall and was the first PacWest runner to cross the finish line.

Nina Hagemann
Nina Hagemann

First for the Vulcan women was Nina Hagemann who finished tenth overall.  “This was a tough one, heat wise,” Hagemann said.

   “Even though we train on this course regularly I found it to be surprisingly hilly and it felt a little long.  I am still working to get better and improve and I want our whole girl’s team to improve,” she said.

   Vulcan women, Kirsta Andrew, 11th, Malia Williams, 16th, Lauren Vieira, 21st, and Liliana DeSmither, 24th, helped claim third place out of the five schools participating.

Daniel Lyon
Daniel Lyon

   For the men’s race it was Spencer Deavila battling it out with Daniel Lyon for top honors.

Lyon crossed the finish line first in 20 minutes and 23 seconds with Deavila 22 seconds behind, but you won’t see Lyon’s name in the official results because he was running “unattached.”

    Several other “unattached” runners participated in the Invitational and included former UHH harrier star, Germain Ortiz, and former Waiakea standout, James Imai.

    “I’m the assistant coach at Victor Valley,” Lyon said after the race.  “I was not ready for this humidity and at mile three the race became pretty tough.”

    Victor Valley brought six men and six women to compete against the Pac West teams and Lyon found the hilly, grassy course to be extremely challenging.

Stefano Barbis
Stefano Barbis

BYUH’s Spencer Deavila won the race for the PacWest men, clocking in at 20:45.  “I had the lead for the first mile,” he said.  “I knew the guy (Lyon) was unattached and I tried to stay with him, but he kept a pretty good distance from me.”

    “I liked this course, especially because it doesn’t replicate itself.  It has lots of hills and is a good cross country course.  I ran for an Arizona junior college last year and I’m used to the heat,” Deavila said.

    Top man on the Vulcan squad was Stefano Barbis Rochabrun who placed fifth overall in a time of 21:31.

    “It was definitely one of the hardest runs that I’ve ever done,” Barbis Rochabrun said.  “I started out good and felt unified with our team.  (Vulcan’s) had a little pack with Garrett (McAllister), me and Keoni (Ucker) in third through fifth place after the first mile.”

    The Vulcan trio began to separate on the first hill as BYUH’s Brendan McMaster started to surge ahead.  “I tried to stay with him (McMaster) but at the last hill, coming up to the finish, I fell off pace.  That last hill was brutal and I know that it’s more mental than physical and I need to be tougher mentally,” Barbis Rochabrun said.

    Other top runners for the Vulcan men were Ucker, 7th; McAllister, 10th; Zach Johnson, 24th; Nicholas Hagemann, 27th; Derek Dominguez, 28th, and Justin Pang, 29th.

    Like the Vulcan women, the men also finish third out of five team competing.  BYUH swept the team titles, winning both the men and women’s divisions.

    BYUH veteran coach, Norman Kaluhiokalani, was low key about his team’s sweep.  “My wahine are doing well.  All I do is tell them to go run and come back as fast as you can,” said the smiling coach.

   “I thought the course was a little confusing and challenging.  The weather was intense, but everybody had to run the same race.” Kaluhiokalani said.


October 11, 2009 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puna Runners Headline Solid UHH Cross-Country Team

Former CLA star, Nick Ucker, runs for Vulcans

Former CLA star, Nick Ucker, runs for Vulcans

There are many things that Puna is known for, its large district size, inexpensive land prices and a colorful county council representative.

    Now Puna can add to its list a remarkably talented crop of cross-country runners, as the University of Hawaii at Hilo has recruited several former Big Island Interscholastic Federation runners from the Puna district.

   Christian Liberty Academy and Keaau High School have produced some of the talent that now showcases a Vulcan harrier squad as they prepare for the Big Wave Invitational cross-country meet to be held Saturday in Kaneohe, Oahu.

   Headlining a deep Vulcan men’s squad are the Ucker brothers, Keoni and Nick, who are former CLA standouts.  In 2007 Keoni won the Hawaii High School Athletic Association track championship in the 1500 meter race with brother, Nick, coming in second.

   Another CLA distance runner, Justin Pang, had been added to the roster to give the Canefire three of the ten spots on the men’s team.

Nick Hagemann
Nick Hagemann

   Brother and sister, Nick and Nina Hagemann, from Keaau, round out Puna harriers that will compete for Jaime Guerpo’s UHH Vulcan teams.

   Joining the Puna contingent are former Hilo High runners Stefano Barbis and Malia Williams who are using their fourth and final year of eligibility with the Vulcan squad.

   Guerpo also recruited six freshmen to complement his men’s and women’s teams.  The recruit class includes Pang and last year’s BIIF individual cross-country champion, Mark Turner, of Hilo. 

   “Our men’s team is deep and we have a shot at winning the conference,” Guerpo said.  “We will challenge Hawaii Pacific Academy, Bingham Young-Hawaii, and Academy of Arts for the title.”

   In the Vulcan season opener, Sept. 5, it was former BIIF runners Keoni Ucker and Barbis leading the way at the HPU Invitational on Oahu.  Ucker finished the 8K in 26 minutes and 18 seconds (11th overall) with Barbis five seconds behind (12th overall).

   “We (Barbis & Ucker) got out too slow at the HPU race and we plan on going out a lot faster on Saturday,” Ucker said. 

   “I’m really stoked about going over to Oahu on Friday and preparing for this race.  We have a good group of guys and most of us have known each other for years,” Ucker said.

   The Big Wave meet is hosted by the UH Manoa girls cross-country team and will be held at the Kane’ohe Klipper Golf Course on Oahu.

   “I’ve never run on that course before and I’m looking forward to it,” Ucker said.  The men will run a 5K (3.1 mile race) while the women will run a 4K (2.5 miles).

   Adding to the Vulcan firepower is the return of senior Garrett McAllister who led the men’s squad last year, but missed this year’s season opener.  “Garrett has been training really hard and we expect to pack run along with Nick (Hagemann),” Ucker said.

   “It’s great having a bunch of local guys running on the team.  We joke about Keaau, Hilo and CLA all the time and we tease each other about our alma maters.  Our team is very close and we have bonded together well,” Ucker said.

   The addition of Justin Andrew, Derek Dominguez and Zach Johnson rounds out a deep Vulcan men’s roster.

Krista Andrew leads Vulcan squad
Krista Andrew leads Vulcan squad

The Vulcan women only carry six harriers on their squad and do not have the luxury of having the large numbers like the men.

   “For the women we have three returnees, so we’re not as deep as the men, but we will be competitive,” Guerpo said.

   The Vulcan women, led by sophomore Krista Andrew, have a shot at winning the individual crown, according to Guerpo.  “I think Krista can win the Pac West crown and Nina (Hagemann) has an outside chance,” Guerpo said.  “At the very least these two (Andrew and Hagemann) should be in the top five in our conference.”

   Andrew was the lead runner for the Vulcan wahine at the HPU race finishing in 19 minutes and 32 seconds (16th overall) with teammate Nina Hagemann trailing by 10 seconds (18th overall).

    The Vulcan women also include former soccer player, Lauren Viera, from Kamehameha-Hawaii, Lillian DeSmither from Hilo and Kau hurdler, Kapua Lapera.  All three are in their first year with the lady cross-country Vulcans.

    “I like recruiting from the BIIF and to be able to give these kids a chance to run at the college level,” Guerpo said.  “We have a lot of talented runners on this island and around the state.”

    Guerpo is in his 11th season as the Vulcan head cross-country coach.

    UHH competes in the Pacific West Conference, NCAA Division II cross-country against BYU-Hawaii, Chaminade, Dixie State, Grand Canyon, HPU and Notre Dame de Namur.

   HPU is the defending men’s and BYU-Hawaii the defending women’s team champions in cross-country.


September 18, 2009 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments