KIF cross country championship ends in photo finish

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    The Waimea High School cross country teams converge on Sian Silva to congratulate her finish during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship cross country meet at Island School.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Emma Burgess holds a sizeable lead in the girls race, Saturday during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation cross country championships at Island School.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Island School’s Christian Carrington, Eli Ibbs, Joshua Graves, and Matthew Vickers set the pace for the boys’ race, Saturday during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation cross country championship meet at Island School.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Island School’s James Pratt works to hold off a sprinting Kauai High School’s Jaheim Scoburgh just yards from the finish line, Saturday during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation cross country championship meet at Island School.

PUHI — How close is .34 second, Kauai High School coach Fred Sasan wanted to know, Saturday during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation cross country championships hosted by Island School at its Puhi campus course.

“It looked a lot closer,” Sasan said, after watching Island School runner James Pratt hold off a sprinting Kauai High School runner Jaheim Scoburgh at the line. “I guess .34 second is a hand. That was a close race. Jaheim closed a gap of about 30 yards between himself and James Pratt. That’s effort, and you can’t ask for anything more that that.”

James Pratt, crossing ninth overall, was the No. 5 runner that clinched the KIF championship for the Island School boys with 19 points after the Voyagers secured the first through fourth overall finishes in the boys race that took off in cool conditions on wet grass from a passing shower minutes before the start.

Scoburgh was the No. 5 runner for Kauai High School boys who finished with 36 points in the title race after its top finishers filled in the fifth through eighth positions ahead of Scoburgh.

Waimea High School boys, whose Keali‘imalu Ka‘awa qualified for the state race with its No. 15 overall finish at 19 minutes, 50.65 seconds, ended with 92 points followed by the Kapaa High School boys who qualified its lead runner Alakai “Ala” Gonsalves (19:39.80, 12th) with 97 points.

“Today was about winning,” said Island School’s Matthew Vickers, the top overall finisher at 17:37.06. “We did whatever it took to win.”

Island School coach Eric Wortmann said the Voyager boys had a strong season.

“This is the 17th straight victory over the past three years,” Wortmann said. “We qualified nine runners for the state meet, and of those, three are seniors. We have a young team with a lot of runners returning.”

Kauai Christian Academy fielded one runner, Kevin Cabreira, who finished 27th overall at 21:14.88.

“Our goal was to qualify for states,” said KCA athletic director and coach Chris Cullen. “If Kevin was healthy, he might have made states, easily. But he’s been hurt. Hopefully, he takes care of that before track season comes around.”

On the girls’ course, Kauai High School’s Emma Burgess commanded the course, jumping to a strong start off the gun and maintaining the lead against the challenge of Island School’s Ella Beck who rebounded from an injury during the last KIF race two weeks ago.

Burgess topped the girls finishers on a 20:46.67 run to lead the field, and the Kauai High School girls to a 28-point total for the KIF girls cross country title.

“We already had the numbers for the title,” said Kauai coach Marissa Purcel. “Today was about qualifying for the state race. Including our five team runners, we ended with 10 girls making the cut for states.”

The Lady Voyagers, placing runners in the second, third, and fourth overall positions, finished with 43 points, and four girls making the state cut. The Kapaa girls, finishing with three runners qualifying for the state race, ended with 77 points followed by Waimea who qualified three runners, with 84 points.

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