Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

UHH cross country women running strong through tough times

Nadia Ramirez

Nadia Ramirez led an inexperienced University of Hawaii Hilo cross country team to a sixth place finish on the Vulcan home course at the Naniloa Volcanoes Golf Club on Saturday.

Ramirez, a true freshman out of Hilo High, finished the 3.1 mile race 23rd overall in a time of 21:01. 

 Winning the women’s race was Bingham Young Hawaii’s Lacey Lynn Krout in 18:21.

 “Today was really hot, but the course itself is very fast,” Ramirez said.  “I could have run better, but I was pleased with my overall performance.”

Following her first race of the season Ramirez has taken over as the number one Vulcan runner, despite her collegiate inexperience.

 “Running at this level is ten times more challenging both mentally and physically then high school,” Ramirez said.  “My coach, Jaime Guerpo, keeps me motivated and gives so much to this team that we need to give as much as we can back to him.”

BYUH’s Lacey Krout

BYUH’s Krout and teammate Katie Buxton ran away from the field of 38 women but it was the team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks that bunched their five runners to win team scoring honors.

“I loved this course as it is fast and soft,” a barefooted Krout said after the race.  “Katie and I ran the whole way barefooted as it is better for our form as it keeps our feet cool and it feels really good.”

Krout took 25 seconds off her best time this season on the cushioned golf course grass and gave most of the credit for her success to her teammate, Buxton, for pushing her throughout the season.

“Katie and I push each other and earlier in the season she won two Pac West meets,” Krout said.

Vulcan Coach Jaime Guerpo was supposed to have lost both his men’s and women’s programs this season due to the UHH athletic budget crisis but managed to find the resources, through a community effort, to save the women’s program. The monies raised were only enough to pay for travel cost as the Vulcan cross country program offers no scholarships.

“We were only able to find enough cash to save the women’s program,” Guerpo said.  “As a result we have five girls running for us and all of them have never run at the collegiate level.”

In cross country it takes five runners to score, but most college teams carry 7 harriers on the roster to protect themselves against injury.

Justina Wood

“There’s a lot of pressure on me to do my best,” Vulcan runner Justin Wood said.

Wood, a 2008 graduate of Hawaii Prep, has been UHH’s number 5 runner throughout the season and finished 36 out of 38 runners on Saturday.

“I never ran cross country in high school as I was a hurdler on the track team,” Wood said.  “I have learned to love this sport and I am always trying to improve.”

Wood finished in 25:04, but has set her season goal at running a 23:30 by season’s end.

“Coach Jaime is very motivating and he hasn’t quit on me and I’m not going to quit on him,” Wood said.  “Coach motivates me to keep wanting to get better.”

Nikka Takane

In 31st place was UHH’s number three runner, Nikka Takane, with a time 22:02.

Takane, an academic senior for the Vulcan’s, is a 2008 graduate of Waiakea where she ran on the Warrior cross country team.

“This was a great opportunity for me to be a part of a college team,” Takane said.  “All five of us need to race or we can’t score as a team which puts pressure on all us to do it for Coach Jaime and the team.”

UHH’s Jordan Bledsoe, 26th in 21:33 and Stephanie Adams, 33rd in 23:54, rounded out the Vulcan five.

Guerpo’s, in his 13th season at the helm, has a  bare bones budget that doesn’t provide money for  scholarships and the money that he did raise is barely enough to fund a meager travel budget.

“I thought all our girls did well today,” Guerpo said.  “Despite finishing in last place they all tried their best and worked hard and I am pleased with how they ran.”


Guerpo is without a men’s team this season, but several of his former team members showed up to help with the two races and one of them, Paul Mauser, ran the men’s 4 miler as an unattached runner.

“This is my senior year and my last hurrah,” Mauser said.  “I had to run this race before graduating and returning to Oregon.”

Mauser finished in an unofficial time of 27:30 with BYUH winner, Spencer Deavila taking top honors.


“I liked this course as it is a solid grass with some shady spots popping up when I really needed it,” Deavila said.

Deavila reached the one mile mark in 4:45 and wasn’t seriously challenged for most of the race winning in a time of 2041.

Deavila sat out last year with an injury while winning the UHH Invitational two years ago when the event started and finished on the Vulcan campus.

The BYUH men’s team won the team scoring.

The PacWest concludes their regular home season with their finale at Chaminade on October 22 before heading to the conference championships on the 29th in Phoenix, Arizona.

“No matter what happens at the conference championships this has been one of the most gratifying seasons due to the circumstances and the way things played out,” Guerpo said. 

Following the conclusion of the season Coach Guerpo will be trying to raise the necessary funds to continue the women’s program.

“With all that I have to do during the season it was too difficult to work on fundraising for next year,” Guerpo said.  “I am committed to keeping this program going and if we can double the community funding we will try to bring back the men’s program.”

October 9, 2011 Posted by | collegiate cross country | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vulcan Women finish 4th at BYUH cross country meet – PacWest Results

Vulcan cross country with Coach Guerpo

BYU-Hawaii Invitational September 24, 2011 5K Women’s Run

Team Scores  1. BYU-Hawaii 21     2. Hawaii Pacific 46

3. Hawaii 68        4. UH-Hilo 93

5. Chaminade 124

Runner School Time             1. Lacey Krout BYUH 18:45

2. Katie Buxton BYUH 18:59    3. Kim Kuhnert HPU 19:13

4. Kassondra McGonegal BYUH 19:15 5. Mary Botsford HPU 19:49

6. Katrina Kropushek BYUH 19:53       7. Shannon Wite HPU 20:08

8. Kelsey Royer BYUH 20:14                 9. Rachelle Wilson Hawaii 20:44

10. Evangeline Rehwaldt Hawaii 20:48   11. Nadia Ramirez UHH 20:57

12. Tiare Nakashima Hawaii 21:01       13. Veronica Camarillo BYUH 21:18

14. Jordan Bledsoe UHH 21:36           15. Hailey Grossman HPU 21:48

16. Taylor Simn HPU 21:49                  17. Denise Nakamura Hawaii 21:27

18. Shannon Whener CUH 22:04        19. Nikka Takane UHH 22:13

20. Laci Sweany Hawaii 22:44             21. Chelsea Ollar BYUH 22:56

22. Stephanie Adams UHH 23:10       23. Melody Papalii Hawaii 23:26

24. Jessica Wences CUH 23:31           25. Lyssa Frietas CUH 23:32

26. Amanda Ray Hawaii 24:12           27. Justina Wood UHH 24:24   

28. Anna Vaagensmith CUH 26:00    29. Alaina Turse CUH 32:38

September 25, 2011 Posted by | collegiate cross country | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pac West Women’s Cross Country, Big Wave Invite, full individual and team results


UH Big Wave Invitational


Klipper Golf Course, Kaneohe Bay, HI



             Women 5k Run CC
  Name Year School Finals Points
  1 Keino, Ruth Alaska Anchorage 18:38.32 1
  2 Tanui, Susan Alaska Anchorage 18:50.05 2
  3 Kipngeno, Miriam Alaska Anchorage 18:50.53 3
  4 Buxton, Katherine Byu- Hawai’i 18:53.11 4
  5 Krout, Lacey Byu- Hawai’i 18:57.81 5
  6 Bick, Susan Alaska Anchorage 19:06.57 6
  7 Keegan, Shoshana Alaska Anchorage 19:15.22 7
  8 Murphy, Kevyn Hawai’i- Manoa 19:31.38 8
  9 Haebe, Bryn Alaska Anchorage 19:39.34 9
  10 Schmitz, Christi Alaska Anchorage 19:46.84 10
  11 Krehlik, Katie Alaska Anchorage 19:48.93
  12 Jimenez, Ashlee Hawai’i- Manoa 19:55.02 11
  13 Almarez, Celeste Hawai’i- Manoa 19:55.72 12
  14 McGonegal, Kassondra Byu- Hawai’i 19:57.15 13
  15 Martin, Andrea Byu- Hawai’i 20:00.49 14
  16 Kuhnert, Kim Hawai’i Pacific 20:05.62 15
  17 Massie, Valerie Alaska Anchorage 20:08.95
  18 Williams, Alison Hawai’i- Manoa 20:12.59 16
  19 Mulvey, Louise Hawai’i- Manoa 20:38.25 17
  20 Horton, Ariana Hawai’i- Manoa 20:43.28 18
  21 Kropushek, Katrina Byu- Hawai’i 20:43.71 19
  22 White, Shannon Hawai’i Pacific 20:51.89 20
  23 Royer, Kelsey Byu- Hawai’i 20:56.03 21
  24 Cushing, Liisa Hawai’i- Manoa 20:59.07 22
  25 Rehwaldt, Evangeline Hawai’i- Manoa 21:07.18
  26 Camarillo, Veronica Byu- Hawai’i 21:13.23 23
  27 Nakashima, Tiare Hawai’i- Manoa 21:16.10
  28 Phillips, Rebekah Hawai’i- Manoa 21:25.55
  29 Ollar, Chelsea Byu- Hawai’i 21:33.18
  30 Delgado, Heather Hawai’i- Manoa 21:43.26
  31 Dart, Megan Hawai’i- Manoa 21:49.56
  32 Ramirez, Nadia Hawai’i – Hilo 21:51.48 24
  33 Gipe, Alisha Unattached 21:53.05
  34 Musashi, Hayley Hawai’i- Manoa 21:54.54
  35 Grossman, Hailey Hawai’i Pacific 22:17.41 25
  36 Whener, Shannon Chaminade 22:25.27 26
  37 Pateman, Kimberly Hawai’i Pacific 22:34.16 27
  38 Bledsoe, Jordan Hawai’i – Hilo 22:43.43 28
  39 Nakamura, Denise Hawai’i- Manoa 22:54.06
  40 Papalii, Melody Hawai’i- Manoa 22:56.35
  41 Takane, Nikka Hawai’i – Hilo 23:00.45 29
  42 Sinn, Taylor Hawai’i Pacific 23:10.40 30
  43 Krebs, Anne Unattached 23:15.33
  44 Sweany, Laci Hawai’i- Manoa 23:17.95
  45 Maanson, Evelina Unattached 23:28.04
  46 Freitas, Lyssa Chaminade 24:13.23 31
  47 Adams, Stephanie Hawai’i – Hilo 24:31.24 32
  48 Barigian, Heather Chaminade 24:34.81 33
  49 Wood, Justina Hawai’i – Hilo 25:15.87 34
  50 Vaagensmith, Anna Chaminade 25:56.73 35
  51 Turse, Alaina Chaminade 34:46.10 36
  Team Scores
  1 Univ. of Alaska- Anchorag 19
  2 Brigham Young- Hawai’i 55
  3 Univ. of Hawai’i – Manoa 64
  4 Hawai’i Pacific Universit 117
  5 Univ. of Hawai’i – Hilo 147
  6 Chaminade University 161

September 11, 2011 Posted by | collegiate cross country | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UHH women’s cross country program saved

After given a death sentence the University of Hawaii cross country program might have received a last minute reprieve.

In April Vulcan runners were given the news that, due to budget restraints, the Athletic Department decided to cut both the men’s and women’s programs.

“We were devastated,” UHH cross country coach Jaime Guerpo said. 

Guerpo broke the news to his team four weeks ago as the cuts were necessitated to save the athletic department $100,000 or 10 percent of their overall budget and cross country was targeted to receive the death blow.

Since that time Guerpo had spearheaded a community campaign to try and raise the necessary funds to keep the program alive.

“I feel it’s my duty to try everything in my power to keep this program going,” the veteran Vulcan coach said.

Many people sympathetic to the cross country demise have made pledges of various amounts which has given new life to a once doomed program.

“We seem to have generated enough funds to keep the women’s program alive as travel cost were our main concern,” Guerpo said. “Not enough money for the men to compete, although I feel very bad for my returning runners, but I guess that’s how it has to be right now.”

The Vulcan women will run a bare bones program with no scholarships being offered, but interest and commitments are still running high.

“I have four committed runners to the program and I’m still looking for more walk-ons,” Guerpo said.

Stephanie Adams from Boulder City, Nevada, Jordan Bledsoe from Omaha, Nebraska, Nadia Ramirez from Hilo and Brithany Ariga from Kamehameha-Hawaii have all committed to running for the Vulcan’s in the Fall according to Guerpo.

The UHH squad will be made up of all new faces as none of the veteran runners are either eligible or interested in coming back, at least at the present time according to Guerpo.

“We’re going to start our summer training in June and if there are any women interest in walking on they should call or email me immediately,” Guerpo said.

To keep the program going Guerpo has agreed to a 50 percent pay cut and believes that the entire amount needed to fund his women’s programs travel cost is $20,000.

“I just got a call from Carole Kai of the Great Aloha Run and they have committed a large amount for our travel cost so I am very optimist that we will be able to keep this program going for years to come,” he said.

UHH athletic director, Dexter Irvin, was equally enthusiastic about resurrecting the women harriers.

“We are very excited to be able to resume our women’s cross country program,” Irvin said.

In a UHH press release Irvin was quoted as saying “Community support has made next season possible.  The funds raised will cover interisland travel for the squad.”

Guerpo will enter his 12th season at the helm of UHH cross country and Irvin has announced that a two year suspension of the men’s program will stay in tack.

“Credit goes to Coach Guerpo,” Irvin said in the UHH press release.  “He knows the situation the department is in and accepted the challenge to keep the program running despite the loss of operating and scholarship funds as well as his salary.”

   The UHH women will remain in the PacWest and be limited to a five race season which includes the UHH Invitational.

Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Chaminade University and Hawaii Pacific University will also host PacWest meets and the UHH women will be provided the opportunity to participate in the PacWest Championships.

“We had to make a tough decision to keep our athletic department in the black,” Irvin said in a phone interview.  “When looking at making cuts we wanted to affect the fewest number of student/athletes and coaches and that is why we targeted cross country in order maintain our fiscal responsibility.”

Irvin expressed his desire to revisit the men’s program and was hopeful that UHH could bring the men back in 2013.

“It is an extremely difficult decision to make these cuts,” Irvin said of keeping the men’s program on suspension.

“We’re feeling the pain in higher education and in the athletic department we are only able to fund our conference schedule,” Irvin said.

Irvin was asked if he would consider any coaches request to give up a small portion of their budget to help the cross country program and he replied with an emphatic “no”.

“Every one of our teams are on a minimal budget and I would not allow them to voluntarily cut their budget even further as this would put our athletes at risk,” he said.

Irvin explained that the budget crisis he faces for his 250 student/athletes is so complex that it would be difficult to paint a clear picture during this interview.

In the meantime women’s cross country has survived due to the generosity of the public and the willingness of the coach to operate on a travel only budget.

Guerpo can be reached at guerpo@hawaii.edu.

May 21, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keoni Ucker finishes fourth at HPU Invitational – PacWest cross country

Keoni Ucker improves on his 7th place Naniloa finish

Keoni Ucker finished fourth in the Hawaii Pacific University Cross Country Invitational out of Kualoa Ranch on Oahu’s east shore.

Ucker, a former Christian Liberty Academy state track champion, finished the 8k course in 26:59.  It was his best performance in PacWest competition this season as he improved from his seventh place finish at Hilo’s Naniloa Golf Course run.

Brigham Young University-Hawaii won the team race followed by Hawaii Pacific University, California Baptist University, UHH and Chaminade University

Completing the UHH squad were Zach Johnson (17th, 28:57), former Keaau High standout  Nick Hagemann (23rd, 29:51), former CLA standout Justin Pang (25th, 30:14), Paul Mauser (34th, 32:12) and former Waiakea High standout James Imai (37th, 32:41).

BYUH’s Thomas Puzey won the race with a time of 26:48.

The PacWest Championships will take place on Nov 6 at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu.  Jaime Guerpo is the Vulcan head coach.

October 30, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment