Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

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

   BIG ISLAND ROAD RUNNERS $1,000 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER

 

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

Grassroot support growing to save UHH cross country program

Some members of the UHH women’s cross country team

“It is a sad day when UH Hilo cuts the only sport that has a connection to traditional Hawaiian culture (makahiki),” Kamehameha chemistry teacher Joel Truesdell said.

Truesdell is referring to the latest announcement from the Vulcan athletic department to cut both the men’s and women’s cross country programs in order to meet the projected 10 percent budget deficit.

“It shows a lack of sensitivity or awareness to the cultural basis of sport in our Hawaiian community,” Truesdell said.  “All we are left with are imported games.”

Along with being a teacher at the Kamehameha-Keaau campus Truesdell is also the head women’s cross country coach for the Warriors and an advocate for distance running.

The UHH cross country program is a non revenue generating sport and, like most business decisions, found itself at the bottom of the priority list and at the top of the chopping block of UHH Athletic Director Dexter Irvine.

“Our kids are devastated,” UHH cross country coach Jaime Guerpo said.  “I broke the news to them a few days ago and since that time we’ve been looking at ways to try to come up with the $100,000 needed each year to keep us going.”

Guerpo has been coaching the cross country program at UHH since 1999 and has taken a budget cut ever year.

“I feel it’s my duty to keep the program going,” Guerpo said.  “I understand that the administration had to make the cuts to keep the athletic program going and we’ve always made do with what we got and have produced a very successful program.”

Guerpo is even willing to coach the team without compensation if it would help salvage the program.

“I’d give up my pay in a heartbeat if that is what it would take to keep this program going,” he said.  “We’re looking at all sorts of ways to help keep cross country alive at UHH.”

Over the years Guerpo had heavily recruited local athletes from around the state to run on his men’s and women’s teams.

Currently Christian Liberty’s Justin Pang, Keoni and Nick Ucker, Keaau’s Nick Hagemann and Liliana DeSmither, Kau’s Kapua Lapera, Waiakea’s James Imai, and Hilo’s Stefano Barbis are members of the team.

Several of the current and former UHH cross country runners were winners of the Big Island Road Runners scholarship.

“We were all in shock when Coach Jaime broke the news to us a few days ago,” Imai said.  “We’re still hoping we can find a way to keep the programs alive.”

The BIRR, along with the Big Island International Marathon, Honolulu Marathon, and Big Island Running Company have all been contacted to lend their support towards helping to keep running alive at UHH.

These UHH runners have also been highly visible in the community, often found at the finish lines of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross country and track and field finish lines as they help give back to the sport in which they love dearly.

Guerpo and his runners have also been strong support/volunteers at Hawai’i Island Special Olympics and numerous County Parks and Recreation track and field meets as they serve as strong role models for our community.

“We also help out with the Big Island Marathon each year by setting up hundreds of cones and barricades along the 26.2 mile course at 3:00 a.m. and then collecting and returning them when the event is over,” Guerpo said.

“The UHH cross country team are not self-promoters, but are contributors in ways that are not always recognized in public forums,” Faith Nance, the cross country representative on the Vulcan Athletic Club said.

“Many of the talented high school runners who choose to remain at home have the opportunity to continue to participate in a sport that can become a lifelong avocation and a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle,” Nance said.

Dozens of emails poured into the Big Dog’s mail box in support of looking at ways of keeping the cross country program alive at UH Hilo.

 “At least UH Manoa gets it,” Truesdell said.  “They have a full complement of the sports that are traditionally based such as cross country, track and field, swimming and sailing.”  

The UHH athletic department made their decision to cut cross country without getting community input which has many local residents upset because they feel they are stake holders in higher education.

“It seems to me that UH Hilo should reach out to the community before making this decision,” Truesdell said.  “The people here will take care of their own if given the opportunity or challenge.”

Guerpo continues to look over a variety of scenarios to see if something can be salvaged.

Vulcan runners support many local community races

“If we have to give something up then I’d like to see the women’s team saved as this would at least come into Title 9 compliance of gender equity, “Guerpo said.

 If the UHH decision makers were to come to BIIF cross country meet they would see the connections.  Keeping a sport like this will maintain and strengthen ties to the community that are priceless.

“A University’s cross country program provides a valuable benefit not only to the team members, but also to the entire university and surrounding community by inspiring everyone to get more active,” Jason Braswell, owner of the Big Island Running Company said.

“Collegiate cross country is particularly inspirational to middle school and high school students who get to see where their running can lead them,” Braswell said.

With the continued growth of the Big Island International Marathon and BIIF cross county programs the continuation of a university running team would be responding to the interest of a growing segment of our community.

We all hope that Athletic Director Dexter Irvin will reconsider his decision to cut an important sports program and instead become part of the solution in promoting something that has deep seeded roots in our culturally based community.

If anyone in the community would like to help save the UHH cross country program please contact the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com or call 969-7400.

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/uhh-athletics-suspends-cross-country-cheerleading-press-release/

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

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