Waimea has its own version of the Magnificent Seven set to run. Hawaii Prep coach Michael Franklin’s dream team is back.
A year after Kristiana Van Pernis, Mariah Haight, Zoe Sims, Emily Evans and Kelly Ulrich finished fifth through ninth, respectively, on Maui to help Ka Makani dethrone six-time Hawaii High School Athletic Association state champion Punahou, that imposing pack of runners will again be bolstered by fellow returnees Veronica Ladwig and Cat Bradley.
Sims is the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, and any repeat runs Ka Makani make this year will come on its home course. The BIIF championships are Oct. 19 at HPA, with the state meet a week later.
The HPA boys, under coaches Kimo Higgins and Lupe Diaz, lost numerous seniors but have an intriguing roster mixed with local runners as well as a strong contingent from Japan.
“We are very excited about our prospects this year,” Higgins said of a group that includes Walt Disney, Michael Spetich, Justin Macy, Dan Masuda, Ryuta Yoda, Hide Akai and Keisuke Anzai.
Honokaa is the five-time defending boys BIIF champion, but new coach Jeri Moniz sees this season as a rebuilding year. Moniz takes over for Josh Abner, and one runner she won’t have is her son, Chayce, who won the BIIF title as a senior last season.
The Dragons do return Tony Connors, Clayton Robinson and Pedro Sanches.
The Lady Dragons return Hildhang Adona and Kelly Greenwell.
“I worked with Coach Abner over the years, and I plan on following his program,” Moniz said.
Unlike last season, Christian Liberty will field a girls team with a roster of eight, while senior Keenan Freitas, and juniors Caedan Cambra, Zech DeCleene, Kiyoshi Kaili and Kekoa Mundo lead the boys team.
“We would like to finish in the top half of the league this year,” coach Frank Grotenhuis said. “We know it will be a challenge, but we are set to give it a good effort.”
The school will host the season-opening Canefire Conditioner at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Stephen Hunter, Max Panoff, Max Kerr, Timon Skinner and Israel Sims headline the Hilo boys.
“We have others that have joined the team over the summer and have worked hard to create a close-knit team,” coach Bill McMahon said.
St. Joseph standout Andrew Langtry joins the Vikings during practice.
Carmen Garson-Shumway was the first female overall at the recent Vulcan women’s 5K, with teammate Mahana Sabado-Halpern taking second.
“Our goal for both teams this year is to create a strong team bond, a love for running, and have both teams qualify for the state meet,” said coach Lory Hunter, who will also count on Kaylee Rapoza, Nina Bean, Satya Ray and Jordan Breitbarth.
Makua Lani coach Doug Andrews returns five girls from a team that finished third at the BIIF championships. Tiffany Nakamura, Joy Choe and Keili Dorn all have a state pedigree, and Mercedes DeCarli is promising as well.
“If our girls work hard and run for the right reason, they have a good chance of being in the top four teams at the BIIF meet,” Andrews said.
The boys returnees are Andrew Creitz and Josh Kuperus.
Kamehameha’s Ryan Cabalse wants his boys team to make its mark at states, an effort that will be led by 2011 qualifiers Makaala Cruz, Jordan Hirae and Colton Hill.
The Lady Warriors headliners are Tiana Iwata, Mikela Cabel and Tehani Jones, who all ran at the state meet last season.
“Right now we have a pretty solid pack running with them,” coach Joel Truesdell said. “We have depth, and our team goals are to be the best team we can be, to have fun and to do well at states.”
Keaau features a team of 60 runners, though many are young.
Natalie Hagemann, Jeffrey Ferrell, Ariel Navarro and Davin Alviento should help ease the growing pains, however.
“We are not a deep team, so we will need to rely on our core group to stay healthy and not get injured,” coach Donna Wong Yuen said. “We need to have our seven through 10 runners step up. Our goals are to look at individual improvement because we have a lot of first-time runners.”
Pahoa doesn’t have a girls team, and many on the boys team will use the season as a means to another end, according to coach John Oliver.
“Most of the boys are just trying to get in shape for wrestling and they are hoping to be able to run the three miles,” Oliver said. “Some of them are pretty large and are doing their best to lose some weight.”
Paul Gregg and Tyler McCullough ran for Parker at states last season, and coach and athletic director Ceri Whitfield again has high hopes for her group of 18 boys and six girls.
“Our goal is always to try to win BIIFs,” Whitfield said. “I always try to have them set their sights on the stars.”
At Kealakehe, Kari Van Mols finished 15th in the state last season, and the Waveriders will also rely on Sydney Kirkhill and Mika Bettencourt.
“For our boys team, we hope to finish second in the BIIF this season,” coach Arturo Morales said.
Konawaena has a very modest roster — four girls and three boys — though Shayli Nakamoto ran at the state meet last season.
“My main goal this year is to get more girls and boys to come out for cross country,” coach Kuulei Saole said.
Waiakea boys coach Jordan Rosado might have one of the best runners in the league in Ian McQuate, who was the top prep finisher at the Vulcan 5K and looks to be in prime preseason shape. Dyson Sato, Nate Parez, Hajime Hayano and Keoni Rice will join him.
“Keoni is the only senior, so we have a good foundation for the next few years,” Rosado said. “This year we hope to do at least as well as last year and qualify our team for states.”
Warriors girls coach Winona Hai-Kelly sees HPA as a very imposing foe, but she thinks returnees Sky Ombac, Jillian Hughes, Vandey Okinaka and Haley Rasse can be very competitive.
“The fight this season will be for second place between Hilo and us,” Hai-Kelly said.