WAIMEA – Hilo High’s Carmen Garson-Shumway and Mehana Sabado-Halpern didn’t start out very fast, but that was by design.
Like a lot of runners Saturday at the opening Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross-country meet, they weren’t going full bore out of the gate.
“We started out relaxed so we weren’t dying at the end,” Sabado-Halpern said. “It felt really good.”
They ran with their teammates for the first mile, and then Sabado-Halpern took off. And since the race was on and it’s what friends do, Garson-Shumway followed.
Sabado-Halpern led most of the way, but what transpired over the last 100 meters or so hardly surprised her.
“(Carmen) always outsprints me at the end,” Sabado-Halpern said. “I was expecting it. I called it, I knew it.”
It’s happened enough that she has a sense of humor about it.
“She started laughing at me,” Garson-Shumway said of her passing. “It always seems like I have something at the end.”
The senior finished the 3-mile course in 21 minutes, 48 seconds, and her teammate, a junior, was 3 seconds behind.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the finish line.
Even with the not-so-serious start, both set personal records at the hilly Hawaii Prep course that hosted the BIIF and Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships last season.
“We don’t know how,” Garson-Shumway said.
It helped, no doubt, that they were running against each other.
Garson-Shumway calls herself a “pack runner” who savors the synergy that she shares with her teammates and others.
“This is definitely a team sport,” Sabado-Halpern said. “The bonding is so close.”
Sabado-Halpern appreciates Garson-Shumway for her final kick during races, while the latter was impressed when Sabado-Halpern advanced to the finals of all five events she qualified for last May at the state track and field championships.
“She’s weird like that,” Garson-Shumway said.
They also played soccer last year for the Vikings, who were happy to take advantage of the duo’s endurance and used them on the wings.
“We ran all over the place,” said Sabado-Halpern, who was recruited by her friend to run cross-country as a sophomore.
Both grabbed two individual silver medals at the BIIF track and field championships last season, Sabado-Halpern in the 400 meters and triple jump, while Garson-Shumway finished behind then-senior Zoe Sims in the 800 and 1,500.
And they’re among the contenders to follow Sims as the next cross-country champion later in this fall.
“They both have high goals,” Hilo cross-country coach Bill McMahon said.
Sabado-Halpern was fourth at BIIFs last season, with Garson-Shumway fifth.
Even without Sims, the Ka Makani boast impressive depth with a roster of 40, which makes them the clear favorite to add another team title.
“It’s so nice that they have so many kids out there,” said Garson-Shumway, who is looking to continue her running career in college said. “I always enjoy running with them. They are all really nice.”
HPA coach Michael Franklin feels he has at least 10 runners capable of winning BIIFs, and Ka Makani runners took six of the top 11 spots Saturday on their home course.
Kristiana Van Pernis, who was the BIIF runner-up last season, took third, Mariah Haight was fourth and Erin Evans, third at BIIFs in 2012, was sixth.
In fifth was St. Joseph’s Sol Kislig, an exchange student from Switzerland who trains with the Vikings.
“We’ve adopted her,” said Garson-Shumway.
In the boys race, Waiakea’s Ian McQuate said he ran with Kealakehe’s Thunder Frost for the first mile before pulling away to win in 18:28.48.
The senior has been running cross-country since his sophomore year.
“I used to play basketball, but I tried (running), I liked it and I figured I’d see how fast I could go with training,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing better.”
He’s probably right.
McQuate’s the defending champion in the 1,500 and 3,000 in track, and he was the runner-up last season in cross-country behind Honokaa’s Tony Connors, who wasn’t in Saturday’s field.
Frost finished second, Hawaii Prep’s Nate Ladvig was third and Hilo’s Stephen Hunter and River Brown rounded out the top five.