PUHI — For one runner it was the sign of a completed comeback. For the other it was a statement.
Both of these runners went home with one thing in common Saturday morning: a KIF Cross Country Championship title.
Kaua‘i’s Josh Herr, who returned from a stress fracture suffered earlier this season, edged out Island School’s Ryan Perez for the boy’s title while Island School’s Joy Claypoole dominated the girl’s race to claim the KIF Cross Country Championships at Island School.
Herr won his race with a time of 17:58.8, beating Perez by just under six seconds. It marks Herr’s first win in a season that was mostly missed due to injury.
This is only Herr’s third meet since returning from a stress fracture injury caused by excessive summer training, Herr said.
Three weeks out of his cast, Herr had the KIF Championship pegged as his comeback race.
“I kind of knew this would be the race where I would finally take it,” Herr said.
Herr and Perez battled for most of the race until Herr finally made his move with a lap to go.
“Halfway through, the pace wasn’t where I wanted it to be so I made my move,” he said. “With half a mile left I knew I had it in me. I felt good.”
Herr said he still isn’t quite 100 percent, but hopes to be heading into the state race in two weeks.
“He did his work when he was injured,” Kaua‘i coach Richard Matsumoto said. “He wasn’t just lying around playing video games. You can’t fake this. You get what you put in.”
Mikey Rita of Waimea came in third, followed by Austin Riemerr of Kapa‘a and Waimea’s Travis Soares rounded out the top 5.
The Waimea boys team captured the team title, as their average race total of 19:52.32 edged out the Warriors by three seconds. Kaua’i finished third and Island School finished fourth.
On the girls’ side, Claypoole had no trouble claiming the race. Beginning at the front and ending there, the Island School runner finished with a time of 20:49.7, beating out second place finisher Kaycee San Augustine-Nordmeier of Waimea by 20 seconds.
“It went very well, just as I expected,” Claypoole said. “I’m always a front-runner. I want to be there. I want to beat the best to be the best.”
Mary Castelanelli, one of Island School’s coaches, said Claypoole is a very competitive runner who should be ready for the state meet.
“It was a really good run for her,” Castelanelli said. “When she’s out there in front it’s her against the clock. I think at state she’ll have a lot of people to run against and chase.”
Kaua‘i’s Krista Schnackenberg came in third, Kapa‘a’s Cassie Wilson fourth and Heidi Herr, Josh’s sister, closed out the top 5.
The Kaua‘i girls took home the KIF title. The Red Raider girls finished with an average time of 22:42.18, good for 10 second ahead of Kapa‘a.
Waimea and Island School came in third and fourth.