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[ HIGH SCHOOL REPORT ]
Going the distance
Hawaii Baptist Academy's
"My sister (Tarah) told me that she always knew I was competitive because whenever she would tell me to run and get her books for her when I was younger, she'd time me," Ho laughed.
These days, Ho is still motivated by the clock, albeit in the athletic arena. Only a junior, Ho has already established herself as one of the state's top distance runners at Hawaii Baptist Academy, having recently captured the Iolani Invitational. Ho's list of accomplishments is extensive for one with the better part of two years of high school remaining. As a sophomore, she won the ILH individual title in cross country (she took fourth in the state finals) and was the league's top finisher in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters in track and field.
Every string of success follows a pattern, and for Ho, the search for perfection begins with a series of pre-race rituals.
"I always follow the same routine," she said. "The night before, I always eat sushi. On race day, I always have a pre-game meal of a Power Bar, crackers and an orange, and I always wear my lucky (red with yellow logo) socks. I have an inspirational book with quotes and numbers from past races that I always look through. I don't think it's superstitious -- I'm trying to maintain consistency."
Says HBA coach Ross Mukai: "She'd do whatever it takes to do her best. She's tough. She doesn't want to lose."
Therein lies the key to Ho's ability to remain a step ahead of the competition. For all her commitment to the mental preparation leading up to a race, her determination not to cut corners in all of her training separates her from her competitors. She doesn't consume your typical teenage diet, for instance, and hopes to someday work as a nutritionist.
"On race day, I'm very nervous, yet I'm also excited," Ho said. "The race shows how much your hard work has paid off. Winning a race doesn't necessarily show how good of a runner you are, but it shows how much you want to win that day. I'm definitely very competitive."
Ho first learned how to compete on the soccer field and earned first-team all ILH honors last winter while playing for Pac-Five. At a later date, she will make a decision on whether she will be a part of the Pac-Five soccer team for the season that is approaching, but with an athletic scholarship to college very much within her grasp as a distance runner, already she has decided not to continue with club soccer.
If all goes according to plan, Ho may someday run for the University of Washington. Her sister, Tarah, and brother, Brett, a former soccer standout at Iolani, are residents of Washington and she spends time there each summer.
"It (the University of Washington) is certainly one of my choices -- I haven't looked into many other schools," she said.
While an intermediate student, Ho ran the 100, 200 and 400 meters and participated on relay teams in addition to competing as a long jumper. She didn't take an interest in cross country until her freshman year, when she was allowed to begin splitting her time between the soccer field and running.
"When I was 13 and I was playing (club) soccer, I began training for a marathon with my coach, Chris Neid," she remembered. "I didn't end up running the marathon, but that's when I realized I wanted to run."
Ho has found further inspiration in her coach, Matt Stevens, who was a three-time state cross-country champion while competing for HBA.
"As a runner and in general, he's been a role model since he went to HBA also," she said.
The Iolani Invitational was Ho's first race this fall, as sore shins kept her out of the Waipio pre-season race, which officially kicked off the 2004 cross-country season.
"Going up against Mainland runners, I wasn't expecting to win," she said. "I had taken two weeks off and only did workouts in the pool because my shins were bothering me," she said. "In the very beginning, I was just trying to stay with the pack. There was a group of four or five of us. After the first mile, people started dropping off, and I ended up leading the race.
"That left me to lead the race," she continued. "I had wanted them to do the work and then see how much I had left at the end. I led until the last 100 meters when (nationally ranked) Amanda Patterson (of Virginia) passed me. I didn't catch her until the last 15 meters, and I won by two seconds. Finishing a race is the greatest feeling. It's all worth it."
THE LAUREN HO FILEFull name: Lauren Shiulin Ho
Family: Father, Dennis; mother, Sandy, brother, Brett; sister, Sarah
Favorite food: "I'm a fruit fanatic."
Favorite TV show: "Friends"
Favorite movie: "Never Been Kissed"
Favorite musical artist: "The Beatles"
Person in history I'd like to have met: (Distance runner) Steve Prefontaine
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