One of the concerns on Margarito Martinez’s lightning-speed run was his team winning its sixth league title.
Martinez turned in an incredible time and his Leilehua boys team was dominant in winning its sixth straight team title at yesterday afternoon’s Oahu Interscholastic Association cross country championships at Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park.
Martinez, the defending state champion, finished the hilly, 3-mile course in 15 minutes, 58.17 seconds to win his second straight OIA title on a hot afternoon. It’s one of the fastest times ever turned in on the course that will hold Thursday’s state championships.
Leilehua grabbed the top three spots, with Elliot Estrada finishing second in 17:05.77 and Dylan Martinez, the champion’s younger brother, placing third in 17:23.64. Branden Miya was seventh in 17:49.57 and Micah Velasco was ninth in 17:54.42 to help the Mules win with 21 points.
"We finished 1-2-3, which I’m really happy about," said Margarito, a senior. "I mostly care about the team championship more than anything. My brother is looking great. He’s coming up and looking better than when I was in my sophomore year. Elliot is really strong and they’re pushing each other. Micah and Branden are looking really solid right now and I hope we can carry it on (to states)."
Despite the odds, Mililani won its third straight girls team title with 63 points.
Kimberly Pugliese finished second in 20:41.16 to lead the Trojans and Courtney Garner was sixth in 21:21.31. Taylor Sinn was 14th (22:14.74), Taylor Suwa was 18th (22:45.85) and Jaclyn Knaus was 29th (23:33.24). Gone from last year’s Mililani team that finished second in the state are three-time OIA champion Kristin Ali Keith, now running Division I cross country at Lipscomb, and Gabriella Jenkins, who transferred to a Nebraska high school.
"This year a lot of people didn’t think we would do as well, but a lot of the girls stepped up and we were able to repeat as champions, and I’m proud of my teammates," Pugliese said.
Pugliese led from the start of the race before the heat got to her at the second mile. Moanalua’s Sophie Curatilo passed Pugliese with about a half-mile left in the 3-mile race to win in 20:20.92.
"I didn’t even expect to be with her at all," Curatilo said. "I just slowly picked it up a little bit."
Curatilo, a senior, credited coaches Dexter Akamine and Earl Kishimoto for her win. While most coaches follow their runners along the course, Kishimoto handles the timing for OIA races and spends most of his races under a tent at the finish line.
"They’re the reason why I keep running," Curatilo said. "They’re both really great coaches. I’ve never had such great coaches, ever."