Posted Sept. 6, 2003
By Greg Char, from information provided by the Committee of Cross Country Coaches
The big question for the boys cross country season is: Can someone knock off six-time defending State Champion Kamehameha.
Several teams with strong returning runners appear poised to accomplish this task, especially since Kamehameha lost several runners to graduation. Gone are three out of the Warriors' top four runners, including State Champion JB Bolson. However, they have two excellent sophomores returning and you can't count out the Warriors. Expect them to re-load and be in the hunt by the end of the season.
Punahou, Hawaii Prep, Iolani and Aiea finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, respectively, in the 2002 State meet and all have similar make-ups in regards to returning runners. Each lost its top runner to graduation, Hawaii Prep even lost its top two athletes, but all four had excellent depth and those returnees are back to lead their teams.
Punahou gets the preseason nod for I.L.H. and State bragging rights with six returning runners closely bunched together. Iolani also returns six and will be looking for its first State trophy. Despite losing their top two, Ka Makani of Hawaii Prep return five and look to continue their dominance in the B.I.I.F and contend for the State crown.
Aiea has only three runners returning, but they are good enough to lead Na Ali`i to the top. After the top five teams, it appears there is a gap, but don't count out the Baldwin Bears. The defending M.I.L. Champs are heavily favored to win again, and with some big improvements could challenge for the State title. Kauai brings back five runners and is the front runner to win the K.I.F. title.
The individual title is up for grabs with five out of the top six runners from the 2002 State Championships gone. Kea`au's Joshua Enos and Mililani's Ehren Ching are the top returning runners; only seven seconds separated them. It should be quite a battle between the two and one hopes that the State Meet is not the only time fans will get to see them race against each other.
Last year the boys had an influx on new runners who added drama to the competition. The first few races will tell us if there is anyone else out there up to the challenge of being Hawaii's best.
2003 Cross Country Rankings
By a committee of cross country coaches
Top 10 Male Team Rankings
(based on returning runners from 2002 State meet teams)
1. Punahou = 2nd in 2002. Team time of 90:00 at the State meet for five returning runners. The Buff 'n' Blue get the slim nod as the pre-season favorite to take it all in 2003. Excellent depth and tradition will help this squad. They are led by Brent Nakano and Peter Deptula who finished 16th and 17th, respectively, at last years State meet.
2. Iolani = 4th in 2002. Team time of 90:29 at the State meet for five returning runners. The Raiders return six runners and are led by Jon Yasuda, who finished 8th last year. Improved recent depth and fire has this team within reach of its first ever championship.
3. Hawaii Preparatory Academy = 3rd in 2002. Team time of 91:21 at the State meet for five returning runners. Ka Makani lost their top two runners, but return their other five from last year. The defending B.I.I.F. Champions are heavily favored to repeat and are led by J.W. Wood.
4. Kamehameha = 1st in 2002. The six-time defending State Champions return only three runners with their top two being sophomores. Leadership and improvement by younger runners are needed if they are to seven-peat. However, don't count this team out as they have the numbers and tradition to be in the hunt in November. They are led by Jeremy Kamaka`ala, who finished 14th last year.
5. Aiea = 5th in 2002. Last year's O.I.A. runner-up ar lost its top runner to graduation, but return its Nos. 2-4 athletes, which automatically places them at the top of the O.I.A. for 2003. Improvement by returning runners and emergence of a couple of new ones will place Na Ali`i in contention for the state title. They are led by Joshua Mitchell.
6. Baldwin = 7th in 2002. The Bears return just three runners, but have a front runner in Kainoa Guerin, who won the M.I.L. and finished 17th in the state last year and a large roster in which to find replacements and repeat as M.I.L. Champions.
7. Kauai = 10th in 2002. The defending K.I.F. Champions are poised to repeat. They lost their top runner, but return their next five, led by Ross Brandenburg.
8. Kealakehe = 11th in 2002. Most of the runners return on this team, which will battle with Waiakea for 2nd place in the B.I.I.F. The Wave Riders are led be Noah Kruger-Burgess.
9. Waiakea = 12th in 2002. The Warriors lost their top runner, but return four, led by Drew Sanbei.
10. Mililani= With Ehren Ching, who placed 7th in States, last year leading the way, look for this traditional power to return to competitive status.
(Year in school in parentheses)
1. Joshua Enos (12), Kea`au
2. Ehren Ching (12), Mililani
3. John Yasuda (12), Iolani
4. Jeremy Kamaka`ala (10), Kamehameha
5. Kainoa Guerin (11), Baldwin
6. Brent Nakano (12), Punahou
7. Peter Deptula (10), Punahou
8. Rei Alzate (11), Farrington
9. Ben Zenk (12), Honokaa
10. J.W. Wood (11), Hawaii Preparatory Academy
11. Noah Kriger-Burgess (12), Kealakehe
12 Aaron Domingo (10), Kamehameha
13. Joshua Mitchell (12), Aiea
14. Owen Martel (11), Punahou
15. Lance Agena (11), Aiea
16. Tyler Tajima (12), Maryknoll
17. Antonio Baclig (11), Iolani
18. Brian Tanaka (11), Aiea
19. Ryan Shell (10), Radford
20. Tee Suntharo (12), Hawaii Preparatory Academy