Saturday, November 28, 2015         


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HPU's Aspnaes finding her way around just fine

By Cindy Luis


» Frida Aspnaes
» Sophomore
» Cross country
» Nolaskolam, Sweden

Her first competitive sport was orienteering, with Frida Aspnaes and her family navigating mountain and forest courses in their native Sweden. Little did the 9-year-old know then that all that work with maps and compasses would lead her halfway around the world.

Aspnaes has continued to find markers, this time on cross-country courses, and the Hawaii Pacific sophomore has punched some impressive numbers. In her first six collegiate events, Aspnaes has been the top Sea Warriors finisher, including Saturday, when she won the Vulcans Invitational 6K in Hilo.

As for finding her way to HPU?

"I always wanted to run for an American university," the 23-year-old said. "I started looking, and the weather in Hawaii was a big reason. I wanted to come to a place without a lot of snow.

"And I saw that HPU has a reputation for taking very good care of international students. I'm enjoying being here very much."

HPU coach Christian Friis is happy as well.

"We've had a few orienteerers before and you always know they know how to run," said Friis, a former HPU runner who orienteered in his native Denmark. "(Aspnaes) has exceeded expectations. We knew she was fast, but to finish second at Willamette (Oct. 3) ...

"I had talked to her before the race, told her she'd probably place in the top 15, just to give her an idea of the level of competition. It was higher than what we have in our regional. She went beyond expectations."

Aspnaes was timed in 17 minutes, 28 seconds over the 5K course, her best time this season by more than a minute. She was second out of 257, 9 seconds behind Alaska-Anchorage's Miriam Kipng'eno.

"It was a surprise," she said of her placing. "I didn't know how fast I could run."

Aspnaes credits her orienteering background for her cross country success.

"In orienteering, you have to use your brain and run at the same time," the computer science major said. "You have to focus and that has helped me here. I like the challenges."

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