KEAAU — Off the radar for much of the season, Honokaa is starting to hit its stride as it gets set to defend its Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross-country title.
Led by Anthony Connors’ victory Saturday, the five-time defending champion Dragons scored their first win of the season at Kamehameha-Hawaii in the final meet before the league championships.
“We’re peaking at the right times,” Connors said. “I think we have a great shot at winning our sixth team title.”
Brooks McVey bolstered Honokaa by finishing third as he and Connors broke into the top five for the first time this season.
Kohala’s Josiah Adams also pocketed his first top-five finish and took home a newfound boost of confidence.
Meanwhile, Hawaii Prep’s Zoe Sims made sure there were no surprises at the top of the girls race with a time of 20:05.82.
Another new name to the boys leaderboard was Hawaii Prep’s Michael Spetich, a junior who wanted to “prove” himself. He did that, and he and Ka Makani are beginning to break through heading to BIIFs, which will be run along the rolling hills of Waimea on Oct. 19.
Meanwhile, Waiakea’s Ian McQuate, no stranger to the leaderboard, was saving his best for last.
He and Parker’s Paul Gregg are two of the favorites at the BIIF championships. Last year’s champion, Honokaa’s Chayce Moniz, graduated.
Honokaa (60) was followed by HPA (63), Hilo (79), Kealakehe (94) and Kamehameha (96).
According to Hawaii Prep athletic director Steve Perry, the top four teams at BIIFs along with the first 37 girls and 38 boys will qualify for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships, which are Oct. 27 in Waimea.
The HPA girls figure to be well represented on their home course, led by Sims, Kristina Van Pernis and Mariah Haight. In his seventh season, coach Michael Franklin has guided Ka Makani to five league championships, including the past four, and the 2011 state title.
That group also included Van Pernis and Haight along with Hilo’s talented duo of Mehana Sabado-Halpern and Carmen Garson-Shumway. They’re all great friends and help each other in forming a pack.