It was no walk in the park in the latest tuneup for Waiakea harrier Ian McQuate, who had to work hard to extend his league winning streak because something faster than a tiger was on his tail.
It was Kealakehe junior Thunder Frost, who pushed McQuate and provided him with his desired competition in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross country meet on Saturday at Waiakea’s fun-run course.
Over three miles, McQuate finished in 17 minutes and 14 second, besting Frost’s 17:16 finish and boosting the Warrior senior’s record to 3-of-3 among league runners in meets, which don’t hold any points that transfer to the one-shot deal that is the BIIF championships.
“In the beginning, two people, one from Honokaa and another from Hawaii Prep, were ahead of me,” McQuate said. “I passed them at the first part, and was not sure how close it was and how close someone was behind me.
“I’m used to running this course. There are no obstacles. It’s one big hill and it was a little confusing at the beginning because it’s different from last year.”
Two seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, but in a running sport, especially at the finish line, it’s a somewhat sizable margin of victory. For comparison’s sake, it’s not a 35-0 football score, but probably more along the lines of 10-0.
Frost hasn’t beaten McQuate is cross country or track, where both are long-distance runners. He figured he’s been behind McQuate four or five times. But Frost had reason to feel good about himself.
Kealakehe junior harrier Thunder Frost’s 17:16 time in three miles on Saturday at Waiakea’s course was a personal record.
He can tape that sentence on his bulletin board for motivation. His goal is not to overcome the high hurdle that is McQuate, but doing so would be wonderful. More immediate on Frost’s mind is to break his PR barrier.
“This year, I want to break 17 minutes, and a minute more each year,” said Frost, blessed with a first name perfect for his sport. “I used to not like it. I got a lot of grief, like, ‘Oh, is your brother’s name Lightning?’ But now, I’m used to it. I like it.”
Angela and Ken Frost, a security officer at the Kona International Airport, didn’t name any of their eight children Lightning. But Angela, a homemaker, came up with a few creative names. There’s adopted daughter Aunhesti; son Nauvoo, 11 years old; daughter Zion, 13; and son Sky, a Kealakehe senior.
She said the birth mother thought up the name, and the Frost family, who moved here five years ago from Nevada, liked Aunhesti as well. But she saves her best name story for her son Thunder.
“Thunder sounds like God’s power,” Angela said. “It fits his personality. He was loud, too. When he was born, there was a lot of thunder and lightning, and it reminded us of God’s power.
“It’s awesome with eight kids. I love having a large family. They love each other, take care of each other, work together, and being part of a big family there’s a lot more to love. The more, the better.”
Thunder is slender only in size, not in his thinking.
He’s adventurous and is contemplating joining the wresting team for the winter season, giving up soccer, which he played the last two years. He probably wouldn’t have to worry much about making the 108-pound weight class.
When the seasons change, Thunder takes his long-distance durability to track’s 1,500 and 3,000-meter runs. He also knows himself, too, what he’s best at.
“I don’t have speed,” he said. “I have endurance. The longer the race, the better for me.”
Last year at the BIIF championships, Thunder finished seventh, which earned him an All-BIIF first team selection for cross country. (The top seven are first team; other meet times don’t count.)
Setting a PR is an accomplishment for Thunder or anyone. But chasing down and passing a ghost that can’t be caught would likely also set a PR. McQuate doesn’t yield for anyone. That’s one major reason he’s 3-for-3 among his BIIF competition.
“He’s beaten me every time,” Thunder said. “I’ve never beaten him in cross country or track. He’s crazy. He’s super good. To beat Ian, I would have to PR and do my best. I haven’t gotten there yet.
“I have to train super hard and put in more work to get better. Other than team stuff, I jump rope. That’s my little thing. It helps my turn-over.”
Then there was a ghost story he shared.
At the BIIF track and field championships last season, Thunder was disqualified in the 3,000 meters. There was no grate along the track’s edge and he stepped on a line. His time was 9:50, which would have been good for second and behind the winner — McQuate.
Asked what he thinks when he sees his old rival Warrior finish ahead of him, Thunder gave an answer that is fitting to his large family’s values.
“I don’t mind, as long as I PR each time,” said Thunder Frost, who had a personal record of 17:16 in three miles on Saturday at Waiakea’s course.