Punahou and ‘Iolani repeat
The tighter the pack, the tighter the team. Keeping their teammates close in sight helped the Punahou girls and ‘Iolani boys secure the team titles at Saturday’s ILH cross country championships held at Mid-Pacific.
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The tighter the pack, the tighter the team.
Keeping their teammates close in sight helped the Punahou girls and ‘Iolani boys secure the team titles at Saturday’s ILH cross country championships held at Mid-Pacific. Punahou placed four girls in the top seven to win its 10th team title in 12 years. ‘Iolani repeated as the boys champion, with five runners placing in the top 10.
“We push each other so that no one gets left behind,” said Punahou’s Mia Schiel, who won the girls 5-kilometer race in 19 minutes, 50.52 seconds. “Over the past few years, we’ve just worked on a lot of pack running because it keeps everyone in the race and strong mentally, because that’s so important.”
The program’s continued accomplishments — Punahou has won all but one state title since 2005 — rely on girls running together in practices and in races. Claire Cutler and Kaila Ronquilio finished third and fourth and Abby Mori placed seventh to help the Buffanblu finish with a meet-low 30 points. ‘Iolani was second with 58.
“A lot of people think that cross country is an individual sport, but in reality we’re so close and we push each other so hard,” Schiel said. “We couldn’t accomplish what we do without each other there.”
Schiel and Pac-Five’s Jordan Jones led the field in the girls race over Mid-Pacific’s hilly and muddy course. Schiel opened a small gap midway through the race and extended the lead on the final mile. Jones was second in 20:24.21.
“Jordan is a great runner, she’s really strong,” Schiel said. “I knew I wanted to stay with her and see if I could take her in the end. I didn’t want to get too far behind. I just wanted to keep her in sight and make a move later on.”
‘Iolani’s outlook on racing is similar to the one in practices. The Raiders push and encourage each other along the way, and this veteran squad made it back-to-back ILH titles after finishing with 29 points. Punahou was second with 38.
“Our team dynamic is totally helpful,” said ‘Iolani’s Jason Wang, who finished fourth in 17:44.46. “If we pass each other in a race, we’re going to encourage each other and help each other finish, and it’s the same way in practice. We like to practice how we want to race.”
‘Iolani’s top four runners from last year’s state meet are back this season. The Raiders are the defending state champion.
“This year we’re a lot tighter as a team because we have a lot of returning runners,” said Nick Arima, who finished sixth in 17:53.11. “We just want to keep improving from last year.”
Punahou’s Connor Lehl led from start to finish to win the boys 5k in 16:52.74. Teammate Aaron Shiinoki was second in 16:58.62 and ‘Iolani’s Royce Garcia was third in 17:34.82.
“I tried to take it out fast because I wanted to prepare for states and that’s how states will be like,” Lehl said. “I took it out fast and tried to hang on.”
Lehl and Schiel’s younger siblings won the junior varsity titles. Kaile Schiel won the JV girls race and Cade Lehl was first in the JV boys race.
The state meet will be Oct. 29 at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.