5 things to know about state cross country meet

Kalaheo expects Avery Torres and Colby Otero to be in the lead pack in Saturday's state championship. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Kalaheo expects Avery Torres and Colby Otero to be in the lead pack in Saturday’s state championship. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Intriguing storylines abound at Saturday’s Honolulu Marathon/HHSAA Cross Country State Championships. This will be the first state meet with a 5-kilometer course (3.11 miles) after a proposal passed to increase the distance from three miles. Here’s five things to know to about the state meet at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

>> Hills, hills, hills: HPA is one of the toughest courses in the state with steep climbs on every mile. Runners will have slower times because of the course. But place matters more than time in this race.

Course familiarity is a major help. BIIF runners have raced here several times, and some ILH, OIA and MIL runners raced here in late September. But for most of the 200 boys and 200 girls that qualified for the meet, their first glance will be Friday afternoon’s course inspection.

>> New boys champion: Two-time champion Kaeo Kruse graduated and is now running at Harvard. Punahou senior and ILH champion Connor Lehl will challenge for the title. He’s yet to lose a race to a Hawaii runner this season.

Two-time OIA champion Avery Torres of Kalaheo will be in the lead pack with teammate Colby Otero. Lehl said after last week’s ILH championship that teammate Aaron Shiinoki is capable of finishing in the top three. Konawaena’s Cody Ranfranz is the BIIF champion.

>> New girls champion: The last two state champions — Amanda Beaman of ‘Iolani and Lisa Tashiro of Kaiser — graduated and are running collegiately. Punahou’s Mia Schiel won the ILH championship over Jordan Jones of Pac-Five/St. Andrew’s Priory. Those two will challenge for the title with the Seabury Hall duo of Veronica Winham (MIL champion) and Ava Shipman.

Jones won the September HPA race on Sept. 24 in 21:49.29. Shipman finished second in 21:52.00 and Schiel clocked in at 21:53.77. Jones won the Punahou Invitational on Oct. 8, ahead of Schiel, Winham and Shipman.

>> ‘Iolani vs. Punahou: ‘Iolani is the defending boys team champion and return four runners from last year’s championship team. At last week’s ILH championship, ‘Iolani’s scoring five finished in the top 10 to win the meet.

Punahou is chasing its first team title since 1996. It’ll require a true team effort, from runners behind Lehl and Shiinoki, to help the Buffanblu edge the Raiders.

>> Will Seabury finish ahead of Punahou? Led by Shipman and Winham, the Spartans are a serious contender to top the team standings. Punahou, which has won all but one team title since 2005, was second behind Seabury at the Punahou Invitational and Hawaii Prep meet.

But even if Seabury finishes ahead of all teams in the point standings, the Spartans will win the Division II team title. Unlike football and basketball, there aren’t separate contests for Division I and Division II teams. All teams will race together and the highest finishing team classified as D-II will leave with the D-II trophy. The Spartans own every D-II title since a second classification was added in 2012.

Live results will be online at http://live.pseresults.com/e/136#/

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