2003 Girls Cross Country Preview:
Ferguson returns to Seabury, Iolani eyes 3-peat

Posted Sept. 6, 2003

By Greg Char, from information provided by the Committee of Cross Country Coaches

The 2003 Cross Country season for girls looks to be exciting and full of drama. On a team level, two-time defending State champion Iolani was expected to be a huge favorite as the Raiders' top six runners from 2002 were underclassmen. However, their No. 3 runner moved to the Mainland.

That still leaves five returnees, but the Raiders have some huge holes to fill. 2002 runner-up Punahou lost four of its top five to graduation, but don't count on this being a rebuilding year for the Buff 'n' Blue. Look for Punahou to go to its usual deep roster to reload.

Kamehameha expected to return its entire team but its No. 5 runner transferred to Kapa`a. However, the Warriors will continue to be tough with the six they have coming back, plus some stellar new runners.

Waiakea and Mililani each return all seven runners and are the favorites to win their respective Leagues. Improvement by their No 3 through No. 5 runners will put them in the State title chase.

King Kekakaulike and Baldwin continue to be the best on Maui and despite some losses to graduation will again battle for the M.I.L. title. Kapa`a lost its top runner, but the addition of an excellent runner from Kamehameha should help the Warriors to repeat as K.I.F. Champions.

Individually, the top two runners from 2002 are back: Iolani's Nicole Anderson and Kamehameha's Jessica Domingo. Look for them to be at the front of the pack again, along with Waiakea's Tamarah Binek, who also is a swimming champion.

The biggest news on the girls' scene has been the return of Tia Ferguson to Maui's Upcountry Seabury Hall. Ferguson was state runner-up in the 2001 Cross Country Championships, and was 3000-meter track champion in 2001 and 2002. She ran on the Mainland last school-year and posted some very impressive marks on the track, including a 9:53 in the 3000 meters. Look for her to join the contenders for the individual crown.

2003 Pre-Season Cross Country Rankings

Top 10 Female Team Rankings

(Based on returning runners from 2002 State meet teams)

1. Iolani = The two-time defending State and I.L.H. champions return five runners, all of whom finished in the top 20 at the 2002 State meet. Loss of the No. 3 runner to a military transfer could prove costly, but runners from Iolani's league champion junior varsity team may fill the void. The Raiders are led by individual 2002 State champion Nicole Anderson.

2. Kamehameha = The Warriors return six runners from the team that placed 3rd in the 2002 State Championships. Improvement by younger runners and leadership from seniors will make this team a championship contender. The Warriors are led by Jessica Domingo, who was the State meet runner-up last year.

3. Punahou = The graduation loss of four tremendous runners brings the 2002 State runners- up down a notch. However, Punahou's depth and tradition, along with three excellent returning runners will make Punaou a force once again. The Buff 'n' Blue are led by Katie Cragie, who finished 12th at the HHSAA meet in 2002.

4. Mililani = The defending O.I.A. Champions placed 5th at States last year and return all seven runners. The young Trojans are led by an excellent 1-2 punch of Deanne Soon and Sara Mitman. Improvement by the rest of the squad will place them in the hunt to be the best in the State. Front runners for the O.I.A. title again.

5. Waiakea = The B.I.I.F. runners-up are similar to Mililani. The Warriors placed 6th at States and return all seven runners. Their 1-2 punch is seniors Tamarah Binek, who finished 4th at the HHSAA meet, and Angela Beck. Strong leadership and improvement by the rest of the team would also place the Warriors in the chase for the State title. They are heavy favorites to win the B.I.I.F.

6. King Kekaulike = The defending M.I.L. Champions lost two excellent runners to graduation, but return three who finished in the top 35 last year. Na Ali`i placed 4th at States last year and are led by Emalia Suehiro. They only need a couple of runners to contend again. Early, slim nod to win the M.I.L.

7. Baldwin = The Bears will battle King Kekaulike for bragging rights on Maui. They have four runners returning, including their top three, and are led by Marie Janiszewski. Word is that they have an excellent crop of freshmen.

8. Castle = The Knights return their top six runners, who performed as a solid pack last year. Improvement as a group could propel this young team into O.I.A title contention with Mililani. They are led by Ann Miranda.

9. Kapa`a = The K.I.F. Champions lost their No. 1 runner to graduation, but return three solid runners. The returning troops are led by Liana Nakazawa. Addition of Kamehameha transfer Kristy Nagahisa will help tremendously.

10. Pearl City = The Chargers will be tough again with the return of three runners, led by senior Kari Tanimoto. The addition of runners from the 2002 O.I.A. junior varsity champions will bolster the squad.

Top 20 Female Returning Runners from 2002 State meet

1. Nicole Anderson (11) - Iolani
2. Jessica Domingo (12) - Kamehameha
3. Tamarah Binek (12) - Waiakea
4. Joleen Oshiro (11) - Iolani
5. Megan Chock (10) - Iolani
6. Katie Cragie (11) - Punahou
7. Jessika Ngirblekuu (11) - Iolani
8. Deanne Soon (12) - Mililani
9. Nicole Leong (10) - Iolani
10. Emalia Suehiro (11) - King Kekaulike
11. Sara Mitman (10) - Mililani
12. Maya Coelho (10) - Kamehameha
13. Kari Tanimoto (12) - Pearl City
14. Kira Chong Tim (10) - Kamehameha
15. Angela Beck (12) - Waiakea
16. Haunani Kane (11) - Kamehameha
17. Marie Janiszewski (11) - Baldwin
18. Piper Marshall (10) - Punahou
19. Elise Ciez (12) - St. Joseph
20. Kristy Nagahisa (12) - Kapa`a