Cross Country – California

September 28, 2015

The Punahou Boys Cross Country team left Honolulu for San Jose, California on Thursday, September 24 to participate in the Stanford Cross Country Invitational. Everything on travel day was on time and as scheduled, which made for a rather uneventful experience, with the exception of one lost boarding pass. The Hawaiian Airlines staff was very hospitable and shared a number of positive compliments regarding the behavior of our young men. After arriving at the Mineta San Jose International Airport, the team got settled at the Cowper Inn, a quaint Bed and Breakfast close to the Stanford University campus. They then travelled down University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto in search for food. They ended up eating at places you can’t find in Hawaii, such as Pizza My Heart and Cream, a delicious ice cream sandwich dessert place.

Can you name an educational institution that is regarded as one of the best academic schools in the nation; has been recognized multiple times as the best athletic program in the country; who uses colors rather than an animal for their nickname/mascot; is represented by a tree on their school marks; has a main street on campus called Palm Drive; and has many distinguished alumni, including one President of the United States? If you answered Punahou School, you are absolutely correct. However, if you answered Stanford University, you would be right as well. These and many other facts were shared with the team on Friday as they enjoyed a campus tour of the university. Their day on campus continued with a practice run, a trip to the Stanford Mall, and a personalized tour of the athletic facilities. Kim Hall’07 was also a water polo player at Stanford and was gracious enough to show the boys around Stanford’s top class athletic facilities. It’s no wonder why Stanford has won 21 Directors’ Cups (which honors the most successful school in NCAA sports). Once again, Punahou enjoys similar success, largely based on the same reasons. We are so fortunate to be a part of Punahou School.

Saturday was Race Day which began with an early start and breakfast. After filling up the cooler with water, Gatorade and snacks, we headed to the Stanford Golf Course, the site of the Invitational. It was a beautiful day to run with the temperature being about 79 degrees and even 10 degrees cooler if you were sitting in the shade of one of many large trees on the course. We got there in time to watch the college athletes run. The home team won both the men’s and women’s races. The high school portion of the invitational was huge. There were six groups of races in the boys’ side alone with approximately 30 teams in each race. Coach Duncan Macdonald decided to run six boys each in two separate races. Right from the start, you could see that the competition was fierce. At the sound of the gun, you couldn’t tell whether it was a 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) race or a 100 meter dash. The competitors sprinted to get ahead. It was a quick pace that our young team members had to learn how to compete against. In the end, it was a bittersweet day for our Buff ‘n Blue runners. While we didn’t fare well in the overall team standings, nine of our twelve runners finished with times that were their “personal best.” It was a meet that challenged them to be better, and our boys stepped up to the challenge. In the “seeded” race, Connor Lehl ‘17, Cameron Daniel ‘17, and Aaron Shiinoki ‘18 were our top finishers with Connor finishing 59th among 231 runners. In the second race, Paul McCabe ‘17 led our Punahou runners.

Although this was a trip for our Boys Cross Country team, we were joined by one member of the Punahou Girls Cross Country team. Noe Obermeyer ‘16 paid her own way to be a part of the invitational and to represent her team … and she represented them well. Not only was she “Miss Aloha” as she socialized with the competition, but she came in 32nd place out of 196 runners in her own race.

Overall, it was a valuable trip for our young men. They created memories, strengthened friendships, experienced the world of a college student and learned what it takes to be an elite runner in this sport. With two seniors, seven juniors, and three sophomores on this year’s team, the heightened standards that were developed through this experience could very well jumpstart this program. A special thank you to Coaches Macdonald, and Todd Iacovelli ’02 for their teaching and guidance to this group of solid young men.

Final Quotes

Duncan Macdonald: “Great trip with great kids. These boys travelled well.”

Todd Iacovelli: “The themes of this trip were growth and experience. Our student-athletes took advantage of the opportunity for growth and raced with bravery and enthusiasm. We will take the experience and continue our progression towards the state meet next month.”

Diego Garcia ’16: “I love the new bonds and friendships we made through this whole experience. It keeps things fun”

Connor Murakami ’16: “I thought this was a good experience because the team grew closer together. We worked hard over the past few weeks up to this point and I think the Stanford Invitational was evidence of our training. We may not have won, but it was good for us to see what the mainland competition is like.”

Mahalo to David "Boy" Eldredge, Athletics Associate, for blogging and Kevin Shiinoki, parent, for photos!