By WAYNE JOSEPH
For Hilo’s Stephen Hunter, it wasn’t a very pretty win during the Big Island Interscholastic Federation all-schools cross country 3-mile meet on Saturday at Waiakea.
Hunter, a junior, captured his first ever BIIF harrier race but needed to pause just prior to the finish line to let go of his breakfast.
The regurgitation around 30 yards from the finish nearly allowed home-crowd favorite Ian McQuate to close the gap with Hunter crossing the finish in 17:40.43 to McQuate’s 17:48.95.
“I was just trying to beat Andrew (Langtry),” Hunter said. “We try to push each other during practice and I don’t normally beat him in a race.”
During the race, Hunter formed a small pack with four other runners — St. Joseph’s Langtry, Parker’s Paul Gregg and Waiakea’s McQuate.
“I was running scared, it helped me run better,” Hunter said. “It was a little harder to breath when I lost my breakfast on the course.”
The pause allowed the host Warriors’ McQuate to make up valuable time which almost led to having a new boy’s winner in the almost completed BIIF cross country season.
“I was more motivated today, this being my home course,” McQuate said. “Towards the end I was definitely thinking I could win this.”
Still for McQuate it was his highest finish in a regular season cross country meet. “I started my kick too late and my push didn’t have enough at the end,” he said.
Gregg, who remains one of the most consistent runners in the BIIF finishing in the top 4, came up a little short again at Waiakea.
The senior began his race content to follow the leaders on the rolling hills of the course and started off in a small pack.
“It was hot this morning and today I wasn’t looking to make this my best race of the season,” Gregg said. “I accomplished one of my goals in beating Langtry (4th overall).
“I’m happy where I’m at right now and the only race I really want to win is the BIIF championships on HPA’s course.”
In the boys’ team standings, 13 points separated first though fourth place with Kamehameha-Hawaii (78), Honokaa (80), Hilo (82) and Hawaii Preparatory Academy (91) battling to the finish.
In the girls’ 3-mile race, HPA’s Kristiana Van Pernis (20:20) claimed her first BIIF title this season
“The game plan was to run and run fast while having fun doing it,” Van Pernis.
Van Pernis, a junior, took the lead for good on the downhill portion of the course, around the 2.5-mile mark and just pulled away from her competitors.
“Nobody challenged as I had Hilo’s Megan and Kealakehe (Kari Van Mols) staying with me up to that point,” she said. For HPA coach Michael Franklin, missing one of his better runners didn’t even faze him.
“Zoe (Sims) is out on an official visit to Princeton,” he said. “I just try to teach our girls to always run happy and to have confidence and humility. I’m more proud of being a teacher and dorm parent.”
Second in the race was another Ka Makani in Mariah Haight, another junior.
“It was really fun and I felt good,” Haight said. “I like the Waiakea course, it is really flat compared to ours and all our times are a lot faster.”
For Haight, following her coach’s direction becomes second nature.
“He just told us to keep up with the Hilo girls, Mehana and Carmen,” she said. “He wanted us to go fast and have fun. I love this course but not as much as HPA’s where we have lots of group support and we know it well.”
For Hilo’s Mehana Sabado-Halpern, who won her first BIIF last week, this time it was a second-place finish.
“It was really hot out there which made for slow times,” Sabado-Halpern said. “I am still happy with the outcome because I tried my hardest and that is all I can do.”
Sabado-Halpern was in a battle with Van Pernis and helped each other with the course markings.
“Kristiana and I were talking and not sure where to go as we followed the cones along the course,” Sabado-Halpern said.
The Viking is quick to point out that although Van Pernis and she are competitors they are bonded together.
“We relate together through our common bond and love for running,” the Viking said. “I told her (Van Pernis) that you got this when we had less than a mile to go.”
In the girls’ team standings, it was HPA winning with 29 points, followed by Hilo with 54 and Kamehameha-Hawaii with 63.
“I’m really happy with our team’s outcome as we continue to come in second to HPA each week and we are trying our hardest,” Salbado-Halpern said. “And we’re having fun doing it.”
The BIIF season continues with two races on Saturday with a BIIF all school meet at HPA, starting a 10 a.m.