Malu ‘miracle’ gives Raider wahine win in Waimea

WAIMEA — Kaua‘i High School cross country coach Fred Sasan said it was a miracle, Saturday at the Waimea High School campus.

“This is amazing,” Sasan said, looking at the results of the girls’ race. “After five runners, there is a tie. And it took the sixth runner to break the tie.”

Malu Vegas was that “miracle”  sixth runner, crossing 19th overall on a 24:34.80 run, beating out Waimea’s Sienna Santiago, crossing 21st overall at 24:48.50 for Waimea’s sixth runner, to give the Kaua‘i girls first place at 44 points, followed by Waimea at 44 points.

“This is the closest race I’ve seen in the eight or nine years of scorekeeping,” said Basil Scott, re-examining the results for correctness.

Kapa‘a High School girls, winning first at the three earlier races, was relegated to third place at 53 points. The lead runner, Cassie Wilson, came in third place overall at 20:41.40 after Waimea’s Kaysee San-Agustine Nordmeier took advantage of the home court to cross second overall at 20:33.10.

Island School, getting the girls’ first overall finisher when Joy Claypoole crossed at 19:42.30, rounded out the field with 81 points when its next runner crossed 12th overall.

“This is her first sub-20 race,” said Cheryl Claypoole, Joy’s mother, following the race. “Last year, she ran this course at 24.19 (I have it in my phone). This year, she’s in the 19:40s.”

But Claypoole was not the only one to post new faster times as the Island School’s Ryan Perez posted a sub-18 run, finishing first in the Boys race at 17:50.90, the first below 18-second run this season.

That set the pace as Austin Reimer of Kapa‘a, surprising his dad Casey with a fourth overall finish last week in Kealia, improved to second overall on an 18:38.50 run. That set the standard for Kapa‘a boys who regained their lead with a slim two-point win over Waimea High School, 38-36 points.

Waimea’s Mikey Rita, finishing in top three over the past races, dropped to fifth overall on an 18:52.40 pace, the first Menehune to cross. He was followed by Bradly Lumabao (6th) at 19:22.20 and Travis Soares (7th) at 19:33.80, Soares dropping from his normal top five finishes.

Island School, getting a solid sprint finish from Dylan Morrison-Fogel for third overall (18:45.00) over Kapa‘a’s Ronnie Perono (18:47.80), finished in third place with 55 points.

Kaua‘i, celebrating the return of Josh Herr to the field, posted 113 points to round out the field.

“I’m participating,” Herr said. His mother offered “Don’t go so fast” cheers throughout the three-lap, three-mile course.

“The big race is Thursday,” he said.

Herr finished the course 45th overall with a 22:11.90 run, satisfied that he completed the run (not in last place).

Cheryl Claypoole said the next KIF cross country meet will be hosted by Island School at its Puhi campus, Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m. due to student testing, Saturday.

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