PUHI — The Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation cross country season has just the championship meet remaining, but Kaua‘i’s Josh Herr is just getting started.
Sidelined by an injury, Herr was only able to get on the course two races ago, the first race being to “test” his legs following his recovery.
Thursday, he got the green light to put the rubber to the metal.
Coming off the gun, Herr kept up with Island School’s Ryan Perez, the overall boys’ leader for the season, through most of the three-mile course, being edged out by Perez in the final turns of the race.
“The big race is still coming up,” Herr said following his first real race of the season. “The KIF championship is two weeks away.”
Despite Perez filling in the top spot on a 17:56.59 run, another sub-18 run following his last week’s sojourn into the sub-18 time zone, and Herr crossing on an 18:01.99, just a whisker short of a sub-18 run, the Kapa‘a boys finished tops with 36 points followed by Waimea boys at 46 points, Island School at 72 points and the Kaua‘i boys with 83 points.
The swing point for Kapa‘a came in the form of Austin Riemer who poured on the fuel in the final mile for third overall finish at 19:16.00, coming from behind in the last mile for the third overall and first for Kapa‘a finish.
Waimea’s Travis Soares crossed fourth overall at 19:23.35, first for the Menehune, but the fifth finish by Kapa‘a’s Ronnie Perono at 19:28.30 separated Waimea from the top spot as Mikey Rita, normally crossing on Soares’ heels, was separated by Perono and Island School’s Dylan Morrison-Fogel (6th, 19:30.55) before Rita stopped the clocks at 19:33.72 in seventh overall.
Micah Domingcil (8th, 19:40.63) and Tanner Henry (9th, 19:50.62) followed for Kapa‘a before Waimea’s third runner, Shosho Ogawa crossed 10th overall at 20:16.83, putting the race in control of the Warrior men.
Following Herr, Kaua‘i’s second runner, Travis Navarro, crossed 16th overall at 20:38.75.
The girls race proved even more exciting.
Joy Claypoole, breaking the sub-20 mark last week at the grueling Kaua‘i Ranch, came up short in the hot afternoon sun, setting the bar at 20:47.79 on her home course, crossing first overall.
But that was just the start as the second through fourth places were settled in the final stretch.
Waimea’s Kacee San-Agustin Nordmeier came around the turn in second followed by two Kaua‘i runners, Heidi Herr, Josh’s sister, and Krista Schnackenberg who triggered the afterburners coming out of the slight uphill turn.
At the line, Schnackenberg relegated San-Agustin Nordmeier to third overall and Herr to fourth, Schnackenberg stopping the clock at 21:14.79 followed by San-Agustin Nordmeier at 21:16.62 and Herr at 21:19.34.
Where was Cassie Wilson, the first Kapa‘a runner who has, over the season, been as high as second overall?
The green jersey appeared almost 30 seconds after Herr crossed, Wilson stopping the clock in fifth at 21:50.90, the first Kapa‘a runner, followed by Kapa‘a’s Vernon Coral at 22:38.91 in sixth overall.
But the die was set as Kaua‘i’s top two finishers collected six points to Kapa‘a’s 11 points, giving Kaua‘i the race with 33 points as its third through fifth runners filled in the overall eighth through 10th places.
The excitement came in the race for second place as Kapa‘a’s third runner, Malia Hickey (11th, 23:16.56) put the Warriors in a tie with Waimea whose third runner, Bethany Tangalin, crossed 12th overall on a 23:32.79 run, less than 15 seconds
Camilla Vernon, crossing 13th overall on a 23:43.42 run, put Kapa‘a up with Kai Chase, Kapa‘a’s fifth runner, crossing 16th overall on a 24:13.04 run to give the Warrior ladies 51 points for the meet, just two points better than the Waimea girls who collected 53 points.
Waimea’s Ember Teter (14th, 24:02.19) and Sienna Santiago (17th, 24:18.92) rounded out its top five.
Island School, getting Kalena Wong as its second runner (15th, 24:10.89), ended the day with 89 points.
With the next week off due to the fall break, the KIF championship is scheduled for Oct. 15 starting at 8:30 a.m.
Spectators are reminded to arrive early due to the gates of Island School closing for the race.