2011 HHSAA/Honolulu Marathon State Cross Country Championships: Individual Contender Preview
The Boys Team race should be a “dogfight” between a multitude of schools from across all leagues and Islands. The girls’ team race is looking to be a conflict between two outer-island “David’s” and one Oahu “Goliath.” Both the Boys and Girls races are going to be good ones for several different reasons.
However, two other races will run in parallel with the team events – Additionally, a Boys and Girls individual champion will emerge from Saturday’s State Meet. Everyone has a favorite runner, and an opinion as to why that runner will win. Rather than make predictions, here are some points to ponder in Saturday’s big races so you may make your own predictions:
The Boys Individual Favorites (in Alphabetical Order):
· Troy Esaki (Iolani – ILH Champion)
· Elliot Estrada (Leilehua – OIA Champion)
· Mark Inay (Campbell – OIA Runner-up)
“Where did he come from?” had to be going through Elliot Estrada’s mind as he sprinted for his life to hold off a surprising Mark Inay of Campbell in last week’s OIA Championship. Leilehua’s Estrada broke the finish line a hair width of 0.08 seconds ahead of Inay: That’s a margin for 100 and 200-meter sprints, but not for a 3-mile race! Prior to last Saturday, Inay was a consistent top finisher, but not a challenger to win. In a beautiful testament to why it is very dangerous to pick a winner in running, Mark Inay reminded us all that on any particular day, there are a multitude of runners who can rise out of obscurity to victory.
Elliot Estrada was given his wakeup call, and he continues to be the race favorite. However, Inay is obviously hungry. So is I’olani standout and ILH Champion Troy Esaki. At the September I’olani Invitational, Esaki raced to the finish less than seven seconds behind Estrada. Anything could happen between these three, and perhaps with other surprising unknowns on race day.
The Boys Chase Pack (in Alphabetical Order):
· Charles Akiona (Kamehameha-Kapalama) Third at the ILH Championships. Akiona has consistently pushed Esaki throughout the season.
· Angelito Cuaresma (Maui High) MIL 2nd place finisher. Gave Perez-Garreaund a race and finished only 1.3 seconds behind.
· Paul Enriquez (Pearl City)Third place at the OIA Championships. Will need a season-best race to challenge the front-runners.
· Dylan Martinez (Leilehua) 4th Place finisher at the OIA Championships. Beat Estrada at the beginning of the season.
· Chayce Moniz (Honoka’a) BIIF Champion. Should feel almost at home on the challenging state course. Possible “Dark Horse” to challenge the favorites.
· James Pearson (Baldwin) Finished 3rd in the MIL behind a strong Maui High contingent.
· Nicola Perez-Garreaund (Maui High) MIL Champion. Finished second to Estrada at the Kaiser Invitational.
· Nikolai Scharer (Punahou) ILH Championship 2nd place finisher. Seems to be peaking at the right time and could challenge the favorites if he runs the perfect race.
The Girls Individual Favorites (in Alphabetical Order):
· Elli Brady (Punahou – ILH Champion/2009 State Champion)
· Dakota Grossman (Seabury Hall – MIL Champion/2010 State Champion)
The matchup between Sophomore Dakota Grossman and Junior Elli Brady could be the best one-on-one racing of the day. Both runners have dominated their leagues: Grossman won the MIL by 76 seconds and Brady won the ILH by 52 seconds. Both runners have been consistently hitting times in the 18’s…not often done by Hawaii runners. Grossman has lost only one race this year…To a nationally ranked runner from the Mainland. Brady has lost only two races this year…One to a national elite runner from a nationally ranked mainland team, and the other to Grossman. Finally, this season neither Grossman nor Brady have been seriously challenged by another Hawaii runner besides each other.
Going into this Saturday’s race, the Spartan Sophomore will enjoy frontrunner status on her home course. However, Brady should not be underestimated. In her best race of the season, Brady traveled to the Stanford Invitational and finished the 5 kilometer seeded race in a blistering 18:27. That was good for a 9th place finish against some of the most elite runners in the country. However, Grossman’s most impressive race was probably at the Punahou Invitational, where she convincingly beat Brady by over 47 seconds while establishing a new record on Brady’s home course.
Dakota Grossman is the clear favorite to repeat as the Girls’ Individual State Champion. However, Elli Brady will make it a race, and she could challenge for the title.
The Girls Chase Pack (in Alphabetical Order):
· Bre Ball (I’olani) ILH 3rd Place Finisher. Ball is an elite track runner and the reigning 800 Meter State Champion.
· Maria Haight (Hawaii Preparatory Academy) BIIF 3rd Place Finisher behind teammates Sims and Van Pernis. During the season, she beat both several times.
· Katelyn Lacamera (Leilehua) OIA Champion. Has consistently gotten better throughout the season.
· Kyleigh Mann (Punahou) ILH 4th Place Finisher. Also a track middle distance specialist turned cross-country runner.
· Carly “Kauwela” Neal (Kamehameha-Kapalama) Had a bad race at the ILH Champs and finished eighth. However, throughout the season frequently finished in the ILH top three.
· Gracie Peck (Seabury Hall) MIL Championship #2. Will probably focus more on passing Buff-n-Blu singlets than on trying to catch Grossman and Brady.
· Maile Shigemasa (Pearl City) Consistent OIA top performer, but did not have a good race at the OIA Championships. However, raced well against the other leagues’ top runners at Kaiser Invitational, taking 4th.
· Zoe Sims (Hawaii Preparatory Academy) BIIF Champion. Current State 1500 Meter Champion. Passed both Brady and Grossman in the final stretch to win the race. Has a knack for racing at her best when it counts for the most. “Dark Horse” to challenge the Frontrunners.
· Kiana Smith (Seabury Hall) MIL 3rd place finisher. Freshman has been an invaluable addition to this year’s Spartans team. With an exceptional race, she will help Seabury to challenge Punahou.
· Kristiana Van Pernis (Hawaii Preparatory Academy) BIIF Runner-up. Another one of the HPA front three that will challenge Punahou for positions and points.
· Melissa Wong (Punahou) Surprise ILH Runner-up. Wong has shown marked improvement over the course of the season.
The 2011 HHSAA/Honolulu Marathon Hawaii State Cross Country Championship, held at the Kapalua Village Golf Course on Maui, begins this Saturday with the Boys race at 9:00 AM, followed by the Girls race at 9:45 AM. Best of luck to our Hawaii high school runners and teams.