Going into Friday’s Hawaii state cross country championships, Dakota Grossman had a few things on her mind.
Like how this was her final high school race.
And that she was going after her fourth straight title.
And that she wanted this one, really, really bad.
“I definitely was thinking about how it was going to be my last race, so I really pushed, and it felt pretty good,” said the senior from Seabury Hall High School.
And when she finished, there were no doubts. She left nothing on the three-mile course at Island School on a warm, sunny morning.
Grossman charged to the lead from the starting gun, allowed no one to get close, and cruised across the finish line in 18 minutes, 17 seconds. Amanda Beaman of Iolani was a distant second in 18:52.
“That’s how I’ve always been taught, just to get out from the start, don’t get stuck in the pack, so I got out fast and also to help my teammates behind me to get a good start,” Grossman said.
She never looked back.
“I knew I had a pretty good lead, I just wanted to get a good time. I wanted our team to do well,” she said.
It was good, too, for Kamehameha’s David Kaahanui, who defended his state title, winning in 15:47, though he had a tougher battle.
Kaahanui fought off teammate and Kauai native Kaeo Kruse, who was four seconds back in 15:51 for second place.
“It was a tough race,” Kaananui said. “There were a lot of fast guys this year. It was harder than last year at state.”
A small pack stuck with the senior for two miles before he pulled away to lead his team to first place. But he couldn’t relax in the final yards.
“I heard everyone yelling and my teammate was right behind me, so I knew I had to go really hard if I wanted to win again.”
Kamehameha claimed the boys’ state cross country title with 59 points, followed by Punahou with 79. Iolani was third with 144 points.
Micah Nobriga-Ferris of Kapaa was the top local in the boys’ field, finishing 47th in 17:53.
Punahou took first in the girls division with 62 points. It was led by Teri Brady (19:11) in fifth place, Noe Obermeyer (19:17) in seventh and Kailey Totherow (19:23) in 11th.
Chan Hsu of Island School led local girls with her 28th place finish in 20:15.
The senior said she got off to a fast start, perhaps even too fast.
“I tried to stay in there, I tried to be strong,” she said. “I really pushed.”
But halfway through the course, “I was pretty dead,” she said.
Kamehameha coach Steve Jenness was proud of his boys squad, which defended its team title, and made it four of the last five.
“For years, I only wanted to win once,” he said, his voice filled with emotion. “Good kids, you know?
Jenness noted that Kainalu Asam, 11th in 16:31.53, gave Kamehameha a very tough top three runners.
“This year, we’ve been running real well. This kind of validated what we did last year,” he said. “It wasn’t a fluke.”
Kaananui, he said, is a “very motivated, very confident runner.”
“He’s worked really hard to get where he is at,” Jenness said.
Kaananui said to repeat was sweet.
“I knew I was one of the top guys coming in, so I knew I had a good chance to win,” he said. “It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.”
“I’m glad I did it,” he said. “I’m glad I did it for my team.”
Punahou coach Duncan MacDonald credited his girls’ team’s performance with preparation that started in early August. They ran strong on a warm day and were ready for the fast pace of the chamionship race.
“They worked really hard for it,” he said.
For Grossman, the victory caps an outstanding high school career as she accomplished the goal she set four years ago — win four cross country state titles.
She ran strong throughout Friday’s race, and during those moments she felt herself tiring, she dug deeper.
“You push through it,” she said. “I never let fatigue get in my way.”
He last title, she said, was the best. She allowed herself to savor the final stretch over the green grass, knowing she did it.
“It was pretty amazing. Everyone was yelling for me,” she said, smiling. “It was good.”
1. Davis Kaahanui, Kamehameha Oahu, 15:47.51
2. Kaeo Kruse, Kamehameha Oahu, 15:51.17
3. Jacques Hebert, Punahou, 15:56.45
4. Makai Clemons, Kalaheo High School, 16:09.37
5. Kainalu Asam, Kamehameha Oahu, 16:31.53
6. Toshihiro Kosins, Kalani High School, 16:34.23
7. Pierce Humble, Kalaheo High School, 16:43.52
8. Conner Lael, Punahou, 16:45.26
9. Jakob Dewald, Mililani High School, 16:46.28
10 Justin Park, Iolani, 16:47.26
1. Dakota Grossman, Sbh, 18:17.04
2. Amanda Beaman, Iolani, 18:52.55
3. Ally Smith, Sbh, 18:56.84
4. Vanessa Roybal, Mililani High School, 19:04.74
5. Teri Brady, Punahou, 19:11.46
6. Mariah Haight, Hawaii Prep Academy, 19:17.41
7. Noe Obermeyer, Punahou, 19:17.57
8. Kristiana Van Pern, Hawaii Prep Academy, 19:19.08
9. Carmen Garson-Shum, Hilo High School, 19:19.10
10. Maile Shigemasa, Pearl City High School, 19:19.20
1. Kamehameha Oahu, 59. 2. Punahou, 79. 3. Iolani, 144. 4. Pearl City High School, 168. 5. Ll, 191. 6. Kalaheo High School, 200. 7. Mid Pacific, 201. 8. Campbell High School, 202. 9. Radford High School, 245. 10. Moanalua High School, 258. 11. Seabury Hall, 265. 12. Honokaa High School, 277. 13. Hilo High School, 286. 14. Hawaii Prep Academy, 313. 15. Mililani High School, 339. 16. Kamehameha Hawaii, 349. 17. Mhs, 426, 18. Kapaa, 449
1. Punahou, 62. 2. Hawaii Prep Academy, 82. 3. Seabury Hall, 92. 4. Kaiser, 115. 5. Iolani, 136. 6. Mililani, 154. 7. Kalaheo, 158. 8. Kamehameha Oahu, 197. 9. Radford, 270. 10. Roosevelt, 270. 11. Hilo, 271. 12. Mid Pacific, 312. 13. Kamehameha Hawaii, 325. 14. Hawaii Baptist, 379. 15. Bhs, 395. 16. Kapaa, 401. 17. Waiakea, 471.
Kapaa boys’ team finished 18th, led by Nobriga-Ferris. Braden Andrews (133rd, 19:06), Ronnie Perono (148th, 19:32), Marcus Bloss (152nd, 19:43) and Joshua Zietz (156th, 20:20) also ran well for Kapaa.
Kapaa’s girls placed 16th, led by Kelsea Armstrong (80th, 21:51), Cassie Wilson (84th, 21:56), Coral Vernon, (119th, 22:39), Vanessa Hernandez (147th, 23:24) and Emily Faretta (158th, 25:03) for the girls.
Island School’s finishers also included Carolyn Price, (60th, 21:24) and Michael Miller (85th, 18:16)
Kauai High’s finishers included Kaino Matsumoto (137th, 19:10), Brodie Noice (139th, 19:11), for the boys, and Krista Schnackenbe (50th, 21:06).
For Waimea High, Bradley Lambao 143th in 19:20.