By Luke A. Kikukawa
Special to The Molokai News
The Maui Interscholastic League Cross Country Championships at Ironwoods Golf Course Saturday was Molokai’s first opportunity to host an MIL cross country championship.
Molokai used this event to showcase its strong athletic organization, outstanding racing venue and enthusiastic community. The home crowd cheered on over 100 high school runners over the steeply pitched and winding three-mile course that looped the golf course twice.
Having the race on Molokai gave the Farmers a real home field advantage over an extremely difficult course. Both the boys and girls teams trained vigorously at Ironwoods for 16 weeks prior to the MIL championship. Other teams said they found the largest hill a towering surprise, especially when facing it twice over both loops. Talk has now started about a future state championship at Ironwoods after seeing this beautiful and exciting course in action.
Lahainaluna swept the boys team title by taking six of the top 10 spots (1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9) while Seabury Hall dominated the girls competition placing first through fourth for a remarkable low team score of 18. Willem Thorbecke of Lahainaluna was the boys’ individual winner with a time of 17 minutes, 15 seconds while Dakota Grossman of Seabury Hall posted the top girls time of 19:08.
The Molokai boys and girls teams finished in sixth and eighth places respectively within the eight-team field. One local runner qualified for the state championship meet at the MIL championship. Molokai Junior Luke Kikukawa overcame an early fall in the race to place 14th overall and qualify for his first state championship. He will represent Molokai on Kauai this Friday, Oct. 25.
“This course was extremely challenging and scary,” said Kikukawa. “I worked very hard during this season to accomplish my goal of getting into the state championship,” he added.
But during the race, Kikukawa had many barriers to overcome. About 100 meters from the start he was bumped off balance and tripped, falling back nearly 30 places.
“After that, I had to really push myself to get back up to the top,” Kikukawa said. “The huge hill that we had to climb twice made me feel like giving up, but I was able to pull through and finish with a qualifying time.”
Next year, most of the Molokai team will be seniors will have a good chance at placing well together. “I couldn’t have accomplished my goal without help from my coach, Ghandarva Ross, parents, and community,” said Kikukawa.
Kikukawa also gave a big “mahalo” to everyone who helped out at the race: coaches Ghandarva Ross and Eugene Santiago, Molokai Athletic Director Hoku Halaniak and the Molokai High School Leo Club for volunteering its time for this race.