FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bryce Jenkins of Leilehua won the Punahou Invitational by more than 20 seconds yesterday.
Jenkins is a horse
More like a fast-starting thoroughbred than his school mascot, the mule, Leilehua sophomore Bryce Jenkins jumped out to the lead right from the gun and continued to build on it to win the boys varsity individual title yesterday at the 51st annual Punahou Invitational cross country meet.
Jenkins, 15, finished the 3-mile course at the Punahou campus in 16 minutes and 42.51 seconds, more than 20 seconds faster than second-place Kon Weber (17:03.56) of Iolani.
More than 1,700 runners from 44 schools in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and Oahu Interscholastic Association participated, with junior varsity and intermediate races preceding the varsity competitions.
The course "was really hilly, it was hard to keep traction," Jenkins said. "I was going for the lead (right away), and I just started gaining on the hills. (Weber) was pressing me (some), but other than that I was pushing myself."
Jenkins won the junior varsity division at the invitational last year.
Though he had to recover from a fractured foot from too much running at the beginning of the season, the win was his second for the year.
Weber also won twice previously this season, but yesterday was the first time the pair from the two different leagues raced against each other.
"I gave it my all -- that's all I can do -- and I'm pretty happy," said Weber, a 17-year-old senior. "(Jenkins) is fast. I give him credit. That guy just took off in the first half-mile, and I honestly wasn't expecting that."
Said Jenkins, when asked about his main competition as he looks ahead at the state championship race set for Nov. 10: "I think it's pretty much (Weber)."
Rounding out the top five spots in the boys varsity race were Nathan Nakatsuka (17:26.59) of Kamehameha, Matt Nakamoto (17:28.77) of Hawaii Baptist Academy and Scott Motobu (17:32.69) of Mid-Pacific Institute.
Kamehameha won the boys varsity team title with 56 points, and was followed by Punahou (93) and defending state champion Iolani (also 93).
In the 3-mile girls varsity race, La Pietra sophomore Haley Abing -- running for Maryknoll -- won in 19:51.31.
It was Abing's second win of the year, matching teammate and fellow standout Julie Besenbruch's season total.
Both Abing and Besenbruch didn't race last week due to injury. Besenbruch did not participate yesterday either because of another extracurricular commitment.
"I usually always try to get to the front (right away), but Julie is usually with me," Abing, 15, said. "I kept looking around to see if anyone was near me, and I kept asking people (watching), but everyone was telling me really different stuff. I was always afraid somebody was going to catch up."
Finishing second through fifth behind Abing were Kristen Ali Keith (20:06.74) of Mililani, Malia Kagawa (20:09.05) of Maryknoll, Amanda Tamanaha (20:18.79) of St. Andrew's Priory and Marisa Schoen (20:24.69) of Punahou.
Host and defending state champion Punahou won the girls varsity team title with 36 points. Kamehameha (86) finished in second place, and Iolani (93) third.