2011 HHSAA/Honolulu Marathon State Cross Country Championships: Girls’ Team Preview
The Top Girls’ Team Contenders (In Alphabetical Order)
· Hawaii Preparatory Academy (BIIF)
· Punahou (ILH)
· Seabury Hall (MIL)
Girls’ Team Preview: The MacDonald Clan is all about running. Duncan is a former American record holder and US Olympian. His Daughter, Eri, is the only Hawaii runner who can claim four of four HHSAA State Cross Country Championships. Moreover, since McDonald took the reigns as the Head Coach of the Punahou Girls’ Cross Country program from Hugh Jenkins in the late 1990’s, he has led the Buff-n-Blu to eight State titles. Last year, Coach MacDonald equaled his predecessor by winning his sixth consecutive championship. This Saturday, the Coach will lead his team in an attempt to do what has never been achieved by a girl’s cross country team, and done only once by a boy’s team: Win a seventh consecutive State Cross Country Championship.
MacDonald’s roster is the deepest in the state. Punahou won the ILH Varsity Championship with a near-perfect 18 points, and the JV Champs with a closer to perfect 17. At last year’s Championship meet, all seven of his runners finished in the top 20. Only one Senior has since graduated and this year the rest of the team is one year older and faster. So, can they be beaten, and, if so, how? This year, only nationally ranked Dana Hills of California figured it out at September’s I’olani Invitational: Put national elite runners on your roster and run fast! Enough about “Goliath”…There are two “David’s” out there: Last year’s State Runner-Up, the Hawaii Preparatory Academy “Ka Makani” of the Big Island, and last year’s 4th place finisher, the Seabury Hall Spartans of Maui.
Seabury Hall Head Coach Bobby Grossman knows exactly how to get the most out of his runners, and how to engineer the impossible. At last year’s State Track and Field Championship, the Spartan girls came within three points of slaying “Goliath.” Punahou won the State meet, but Seabury Hall definitely won the moral victory. By the way, the State Track and Field meet was on the Spartan’s home turf. This year’s State Cross Country Championship also happens to be on Maui. Do not let anyone tell you that a home crowd does not matter in a running race. Grossman knows that it does, and it will definitely be part of his plan.
The Spartan’s top three will run even up in points with the Buff-n-Blu’s top three. For the Spartans, the key to this race will be in the performance of their last two scoring runners: Punahou’s roster is deep. The odds are against them, but that didn’t stop Seabury Hall from believing last spring.
The Big Island’s Hawaii Preparatory Academy “Ka Makani” (Hawaiian for “The Wind”) run with the spirit of their mascot. However, the inspiration for HPA’s long tradition of running comes from HPA coaching legend, Stan Shutes, and the Ka Makani’s current Head Coach, Michael Franklin. His approach to coaching is different from both MacDonald’s and Grossman’s, but no less effective. Among other cerebral techniques, Coach Franklin is rumored to read poetry to his runners before races to calm their nerves and clear their heads for the task-at-hand. One cannot argue against the technique when one sees the result: In the 38 years of BIIF Girls Cross Country competition, 34 titles have gone to the Ka Makani.
In a familiar story, HPA’s first three will score favorably with Punahou and Seabury Hall. However, just as with the Spartans, the Ka Makani’s fourth and fifth runners will determine the team’s destiny. Hopefully, Coach Franklin has saved his most-inspirational poem for this Saturday.
The very deep Punahou Buff-n-Blu Girls are the odds-on favorites to win a seventh consecutive State Cross Country title. However, do not count out either the Seabury Hall Spartans or the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Ka Makani. Running is an unpredictable sport and what everyone expects to happen sometimes doesn’t happen.
Next Article: Individual Boys and Girls Preview