WAIMEA — Kauai High School runner Kane Casillas stopped the clocks at 17 minutes, 5 seconds, and Kapaa High School runner Juliana Tampus did the three-mile course at 20:07.4, Saturday during the Waimea High School cross country invitational meet at the Menehune campus.
“I was a little nervous at the start,” Casillas said. “This is my first race after being injured for most of the season last year. But I didn’t have to worry. I just ran my race. I hope to do it, again for the next race, and all of the races.”
Casillas, a senior at Kauai High, returned to the course after spending last year watching from the sidelines, and tackled the rapidly-warming Waimea course more than 30 seconds ahead of Kapaa runner Garrett Smith who was the top runner during last year’s runs.
Desite the top performances by Casillas and Smith, the Island School boys team captured team honors with 28 points, led by Matthew Vickers who finished third overall on a 17:41 run, just 10 ticks behind Smith. The Voyagers went on to fill in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and 10th slots, overall to earn their top boys team performance.
Kauai High School boys finished second at 44 points followed by Kapaa boys at 56 points, and Waimea boys at 122 points.
Tampus topped the girls’ field that opened the crisp morning in Waimea, being challenged by Kauai High School freshman Millie Middlebrook who finished just two seconds behind Tampus at 20:09.3. Ella Beck, consistent through the course for Island School, filled in the third overall slot on a 21:04 run.
“I passed the other runners on the hill,” Tampus said. “From there, it was pretty much my own race, and not worrying about who was behind me.”
Middlebrook, the sister of Dodger Middlebrook who was a strong runner for the Red Raiders last year, was joined by veteran runner Mia Takekuma in fourth place, overall, and runners filling in the sixth, 11th, and 12th places to earn top team honors at 35 points.
Tampus’ first overall finish helped Kapaa girls to second place at 57 points when Kapaa’s second runner Jessica Drent filled in the seventh spot followed by Kinohi Naihe filling in the 10th spot.
Island School girls finished third at 62 points followed by the host Menehune wahine getting 139 points.
Of note, Kauai Christian Academy also fielded four runners — three girls, all running for the first time, and one returning runner, Kevin Cabreira, finishing 17th overall in the boys race — but were not eligible for team scoring.
The Kauai Interscholastic Federation opens its cross country season, Saturday when Waimea High School again hosts runners at its campus starting at 7:30 a.m.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.