Punahou Sweeps ILH Varsity/JV Cross-Country Championships


Punahou Takes Girls’ and Boys’ ILH Varsity and JV Cross-Country Championships
Brady wins fourth ILH individual title in dominant performance
(Mid-Pacific Institute, Oahu) The Buffanblu Girls of Punahou (29) maintained their stronghold on the ILH cross country varsity championship on Saturday while winning by a dominant margin of 46 points over the Kamehameha-Kapalama Warriors (75).  Meanwhile, in a mild upset, the increasingly competitive Mid-Pacific Institute Owls outran the ‘Iolani Raiders for third.
In the individual race, Buffanblu senior standout Elli Brady opened a significant lead over the pack in the second mile and never looked back.  She set a new personal best of 19:03 on the difficult three mile course of steep uphills and downhills.  Brady finished out of visual contact and 39 seconds ahead of the peaking Alice Liggett of Mid-Pac.  While Brady set her sights on a fourth consecutive ILH individual title, Owl Junior Liggett used her home course advantage and experience to lay in-wait as the ILH’s freshman class dueled for position ahead of her.  Then, on the third long hill, Liggett (19:42) surged past Teri Brady (Punahou), Amanda Beaman (‘Iolani) and Hii Ellis (Kamehameha-Kapalama) to open up a six second lead on the freshmen.  The younger Brady (19:49.1) then out-sprinted Beaman (19:49.4) for a dramatic photo-finish third.
Meanwhile, Punahou’s Varsity boys squeaked out a narrow 6 point victory (52-58) over ‘Iolani in a hauntingly familiar replay of last year’s team championship finish. A year ago the Buffanblu boys bested Raiders by five.  In a rematch of last year’s battle for third place, Kamehameha-Kapalama (72) turned the tables on upstart Hawaii Baptist Academy (80) by a narrow eight point margin.  Last year HBA finished third in the ILH by ten points over the Warriors.
The boys’ individual varsity race was less exciting than the team duels back in the pack.  Kamehameha-Kapalama Junior Davis Kaahanui opened in the first half-mile, and held a constant 20 second lead ahead Punahou Senior Nikolai Scharer and Junior Jacques Herbert.  Little changed in the front for the entire race as Scharer (2nd – 16:40) and Herbert (3rd – 16:42) repeatedly and unsuccessfully surged to catch Kaahanui (1st – 16:20).
In the Boys’ Junior Varsity race, Punahou (33) finished all five of their scoring runners in the top ten (3/5/6/9/10) and ran to a comfortable 26 point victory over ‘Iolani (59) while HBA finished third.  ‘Iolani’s Justin Park (18:29) won the individual race over Michael Dang (18:41) of HBA and Conner Murakami (18:44) of Punahou.
The JV girls’ race was a walk in the park for the Buffanblu as they finished with an almost perfect score of 16.  Only Raider Sophomore Courtney Overland (5th – 22:33) was able to prevent a Punahou sweep by Sarah Imai (1st – 21:19), Caitlin Green (2nd – 21:26), Noe Obermeyer (3rd – 21:29), Elle Bower (4th – 21:35) and Sarah Buck (6th – 22:36).  The ‘Iolani girls (47) finished second and HBA took third.
Punahou (28) also won the intermediate boys championship over ‘Iolani (55) while Buffanblu runner Conner Lehl (12:13) won the individual title on the two mile course.  The ‘Iolani girls (33) showed depth for the future, upsetting Punahou (52) for the intermediate title and preventing a Punahou repeat sweep of all six ILH cross country team championships.  ‘Iolani 8th grader Elizabeth Stacey won the two mile individual race in 13:53 over team mate Kellie Okamura (13:58).
The girls’ state championship race looks to be a rematch of the talented and deep Punahou Buffanblu, lead by Coach Duncan MacDonald, against the defending champion Hawaii Preparatory Academy “Ka Makani”, led by Coach Michael Franklin.  Last year the underdog “Ka Makani” used a pack running team strategy to upset the heavily favored Buffanblu by fifteen points (35-50) at the Kapalua Golf Course on Maui.  This year’s HHSAA Hawaii State Cross Country Championship will be held at HPA on Hawaii Island.  The question everyone’s asking is, “Will HPA’s advantage on their extremely difficult home course offset Punahou’s perpetual depth?”  Meanwhile, the State’s two most dominant female high school cross country runners, state champion Dakota Grossman of Seabury Hall and runner up Elli Brady of Punahou, will match up one for last run-off to the individual title.
In the Boys State Championship, the stage is set for a renewal of last year’s dogfight with the ILH’s Punahou, ‘Iolani, Kamehameha-Kapalama and HBA running against the OIA’s perpetual powerhouse and defending state champion Leilehua Mules.  Once again, Oahu’s best teams will be joined by a strong field of schools from Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island. Last year’s championship race was exciting as the Mules dueled with the Maui High Sabers while ‘Iolani upset Punahou for third.  This year the team racing could turn out to be even more exciting in the thin air of the hill laden course around the HPA campus.