Iolani senior Jon Yasuda led the Raiders to their first ILH cross country team championship.

Iolani sweeps ILH
cross country

The Iolani boys cross country team made history yesterday by winning its first Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship in the 39th running of the meet at Central Oahu Regional Park.

But the most exciting part of the day came in the girls 2-mile race. Hawaii Baptist's Lauren Ho passed Iolani's Nicole Anderson with 5 yards left for the individual victory in 12 minutes, 3.69 seconds.

Ho and Anderson ran neck-and-neck for most of the race until Anderson took a lead on the last uphill section before relinquishing it after the final turn.

"She just passed me," said Anderson, the defending state champion who crossed the finish line 1.84 seconds after Ho. "I was trying to keep the lead, but I didn't realize how fast she was coming. I'll be more prepared (for Saturday's state meet on Maui). I'm quite disappointed. I didn't give it my best shot and didn't do my best."

Ho credited her track coach -- Pac-Five's Greg Cuadra -- with giving her the inspiration at crunch time.

"He was yelling at me to go at the end of the race, and he gave me a long, encouraging talk this week," Ho said. "I had no energy at the end, but I knew I had to push. I always have fun running with and against Nicole."

Anderson's consolation was huge as the Raiders secured their third straight team title. Iolani's Joleen Oshiro finished third, while teammates Megan Chock and Lucy Dolly Caires also placed in the top 10.

The Iolani girls finished with 34 points, followed by Kamehameha with 53 and Punahou with 58. The Warriors' Jessica Domingo and the Buffanblu's Katie Craigie rounded out the top five.

"It was Lauren Ho's day, but Nicole ran a great race," said Raiders coach Gregory Char, whose team is aiming for a third straight state title. "This team is coming together and we have a good shot at states. We know Kamehameha will be much tougher next Saturday, so we'll have to run better than we did today to beat them."

In the 3-mile boys race, Iolani's Jon Yasuda earned the individual victory in 15:50.19. He beat second-place finisher Jeremy Kamaka'ala of Kamehameha by 12.62 seconds. Raiders teammates Frank Lau and Tyler Chun finished third and fourth, and Morgan Stevenson and Antonio Baclig also placed in the top 10.

"From my standpoint, this victory was all about senior leadership -- Jon, Frank and Tyler," Iolani coach James Rubasch said. "They knew it was up to them -- make or break. This is a special day for Iolani boys cross country."

Lauren Ho of Hawaii Baptist, right, passed Nicole Anderson of Iolani near the finish line to win the ILH cross country title.

The Raiders finished with 23 points, followed by Punahou with 52 and defending ILH and state champion Kamehameha with 53.

Punahou had three top-10 runners -- Peter Deptula in fifth along with Paul Nelson and Brent Nakano.

Rubasch knows his team was fortunate to get a pack of boys to finish as high as they did.

"Punahou and Kamehameha, we know they're tough," he said. "And it's not like they weren't right in there today. It was our day, I guess."

Yasuda wasn't surprised by the team's victory.

"It was all because the whole team was mentally focused through all of the final weeks of the (league) season," he said. "This is how I pictured it, because in practice no one slacked and we all pushed each other. I tried to use the downhill to create as much gap as possible and the rest of the team used the slopes to our advantage. And because of our workouts all year on hills, we weren't afraid of that final uphill."

Kamaka'ala stayed with Yasuda for the first mile, but couldn't keep up with him.

"I tried my best, and I've beaten him once before when we hosted a meet this year," he said. "I ran my best, but so did he and I guess his best is better than mine."

Ho and Anderson are looking forward to running in what looks to be a wide-open girls state event.

"I'm excited to go up against Emily King (Moanalua) and Tia Ferguson (Seabury Hall)," Ho said. "Nicole and I will stick together. Emily King beat us by a lot at the Kaiser Invitational, so we're going to go after her."

Mililani, Kalaheo win OIA: Moanalua's Emily King ran 2 miles in 11 minutes, 39.8 seconds to win the OIA girls championship at Nanakuli, but her team finished well behind Mililani for the team title.

The Trojans swept the fifth- through eighth-place spots to score 39 points to Mililani's 70. Kaiser came in third.

Ryan Shell of Radford clocked a 16:07 in the 3-mile boys race, followed by Joseph Gonzales and Bryson Pascua of Pearl City.

Kalaheo won the team title over the Chargers with Aiea taking third.


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