WAIMEA — Mia Takekuma, a freshman from Kauai High School, said she learned how to run playing soccer.
Takekuma crossed the finish line first overall for the girls race at the Waimea High School cross country invitational at the Waimea campus, stopping the clock at 19 minutes, 49.60 seconds, a great run in the rapidly-warming morning air.
Takekuma was challenged by Kapaa’s Victoria Hennessy (20:03.50).
The Warriors locked up the girls’ race when Kelsea Armstrong (20:51.10) and Juliana Tampus (21:01.50) crossed the line in fourth and fifth places, respectively.
Kauai’s next finisher behind Takekuma came in seventh when Sydney Brady stopped the clock at 22:16.10 and the Raiders’ third runner came in 10th as Kristin Chun crossed the line on a 23:02.30 run.
Kapaa girls sealed the race with 30 points, followed by Kauai at 45 points. Waimea High School, led by Lacey Bagain (6th, 21:49.60), filled in third place with 70 points, and Island School, despite its veteran runner Caroline Price (20:24.50) crossing third overall, rounded out the team scoring with 84 points.
“Our goal was to just finish the race,” said Fred Sasan, one of the Kauai coaches. “We want the runners to see what a three-mile race feels like. From here, we start building for the season.”
Marissa Purcel, the Kauai coach, was impressed by the performance of Red Raider freshmen, including Takekuma.
“I just sprinted,” Takekuma said of her breaking the 20-minute mark in the warm Waimea morning.
The race started earlier than normal because of the rapidly-rising heat, said Coach Lois Keamoai noting that the temperature and humidity readings have been pretty high in the field the past several days.
On the boys’ course, Kauai High School filled in the top three overall spots to lock up the team scoring at 33 points, followed by Kapaa High School at 40 points. Island School came in at 66 points and Waimea High School rounded out the boys scoring at 83 points.
The top three finishers, led by Kauai sophomore Kane Casillas (17:22.20), all broke the 18-minute mark as Jacob Herr (17:30.00) and Dodger Middlebrook (17:44.90) crossed the line, challenged by Island School’s James Pratt (18:02.00) and Kapaa’s Garret Smith (18:12.10).
“Dodger Middlebrook. Where did he come from?” Sasan said. “Wait until Dutch Fairbanks comes back. These young runners are doing something today. And Mia, she was smiling all the way. They’re so young, I don’t even know all of their names.”
Braden Lumabao (18:42.80) did the honors for Waimea High School.
Waimea coach Basilio “Bunga” Fuertes arranged to have medals presented to the top 20 girls and to 20 boys finishers.
The Kauai Interscholastic Federation cross country season launches Saturday when Waimea High School hosts the opening race starting at 8 a.m. at the Waimea High School campus.