Iolani sweeps ILH cross country team titles
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAIPI'O Iolani School came within 1.84 seconds of sweeping yesterday's Interscholastic League of Honolulu individual and team cross country championships at Central O'ahu Regional Park.
Raiders junior Jon Yasuda won with a three-mile time of 15 minutes, 50.19 seconds to help Iolani capture its first ILH boys title, and the Raider girls finished first in their team standings with 34 points to outdistance Kamehameha (53) and Punahou (58).
But in the girls individual race, Hawai'i Baptist sophomore Lauren Ho kicked past defending champion Nicole Anderson of Iolani in the final 35 yards to win with a 2-mile time of 12 minutes, 3.69 seconds 1.84 seconds ahead of Anderson (12:05.53).
"I didn't think I was gonna catch her, because she kept getting farther," said Ho, who was running on the Eagles' intermediate team last year. "I had no energy, but I just had to push it."
Anderson, a junior who was the 2002 state champion, led by as many as 12 yards before the hairpin turn into the 120-yard home stretch.
That's when Ho started her kick, and she finally passed Anderson and held her off at the finish.
"I knew she was right there (behind me), but I wasn't sure if she was going to make a move," Anderson said. "I've never been a sprinter, so I should have pushed for a (bigger) lead earlier. It became a kickers' race, and I cannot sprint for beans."
Iolani's team victory, however, made up for any disappointment individually. The Raiders won last year's state title, but two key underclassmen from that squad did not return. Christi Morrissey moved to the Mainland with her family, and Jessika Ngirblekuu transferred to Kalaheo.
"That was a big bummer, because not only were they good runners, but they were two of the loudest people on our team," Anderson said. "We relied on them a lot as far as psyching ourselves up, and we really miss them."
But in addition to Anderson, Iolani got strong performances yesterday from junior Joleen Oshiro (12:05.53, third place) and sophomores Megan Chock (12:46.90, sixth) and Lucy Dolly Caires (12:57.80, seventh).
Other team members were sophomores Susan Mukai (13:24, 16th) and Nicole Leong (13:44, 19th) and junior Kira Tamashiro (13:49, 21st).
In the boys race, Yasuda jumped out quickly and eventually opened a substantial lead on runner-up Jeremy Kamaka'ala (16:02.81) of Kamehameha.
"I think this course played to my strengths, because we always focus on hills, so I pushed it on the downhills and finished strong on the uphill," said Yasuda, who quit football last year after playing both sports as a sophomore. "But the Kamehameha runners don't give up, so at no time did I feel safe."
Iolani, which earned 23 points to beat Punahou (52) and Kamehameha (53), had five of the top eight finishers: Yasuda, Frank Lau (16:30.22, third), Tyler Chun (16:34.58, fourth), Morgan Stevenson (17:00, seventh) and Antonio Baclig (17:07.81, eighth).
Other Raiders yesterday were Ryan Chun (17:19, 11th) and Tommy Raymond (17:53, 20th).
Reach Wes Nakama at email@example.com or 535-2456.