Seabury Hall’s Dakota Grossman has nearly done it all.
She won her fourth MIL title last week on Molokai and will be going for a fourth straight state crown on Friday on Kauai, which would match Eri McDonald of Punahou’s string from 1995-98. The one thing Grossman is missing, though, is the state championship record.
Grossman has never come close to Lauren Ho‘s mark of 18 minutes, 11 seconds when the Hawaii Baptist blazer tore up the course at Kauai Community College the first time the state championship was marked off as three miles in 2005. Not only has no girl ever threatened Ho’s mark, only Elli Brady of Punahou has broken 19 minutes when she ran an 18:53.85 at Island School on Kauai in 2009.
Grossman’s top time in the state championship was 19:25.50 at Central Oahu Regional Park in her first win in 2010, and she followed it up with a 19:27.5 at Kapalua Village and a 20:21.85 on Hawaii Prepatory Academy’s campus last year. But those courses were completely different tracks than the one at Island School, and Grossman has a very real shot at going low.
The most similar course to the one at Island school that the athletes have tested themselves against this year is at Kualoa Ranch, where Grossman traveled for the ‘Iolani Invitational about a month ago. Grossman won that meet easily, running the three miles in 17:42.58. Punahou’s Teri Brady also broke 19 minutes in that race with an 18:47.08.
‘Iolani’s Amanda Beaman and Mililani’s Vanessa Roybal, both sophomores, might represent Grossman’s greatest challenge on Kauai as the champions of the ILH and OIA. Roybal is undefeated at 4-0 in varsity meets this season while Beaman is peaking at the right time.
The Raider has won her last four races after a slow start to the season and won the ILH with a strategy tailored to this week’s state championship. The fast course doesn’t figure to help her as much as Mid-Pacific’s grueling hills did.
“I know that it is mostly flat and kind of just grass,” Beaman said. “My strengths are hills, so we will see how that goes.”
Neither Beaman nor Roybal laced them up against Grossman at Kualoa.
Defending champion Punahou will be going for its eighth state title in nine years and if the Buffanblu get it their dynasty may never end. Five of Punahou’s top seven runners, including its top three, are sophomores. The other two are seniors.
If Grossman, who is the MIL’s most decorated athlete ever, doesn’t cap her career with a record she still might be able to see one happen.
Defending champion Davis Kaahanui of Kamehameha is the favorite in the boys race, but he will be pushed. With the deep field and a fast track, a record is certainly possible.
Jeremy Kamaka’ala of Kamehameha holds the 3-mile mark with a 15:22.4 at the Dunes at Mauna Lani in 2003. The last time the championship was held was in 2009 when Margarito Martinez of Leilehua clocked a 15:50.5.
Just as in the girls field, the closest comparison to the Kauai track came at Kualoa at the ‘Iolani Invitational, where Kaahanui reminded everyone of his dominance with a win and a time of 15:15.11. A similar performance on Friday would certainly leave Kamaka’ala in the dust.
Kaahanui’s greatest challenge will either come from OIA champ Makai Clemons of Kalaheo or Kamehameha teammate Kaeo Kruse. Clemons has five of the top 10 times in the OIA this year topped by a 15:25.34 at Kualoa where he finished second to Kaahanui, his second of three losses this year to the Warriors senior. Kruse nearly beat Kaahanui at the ILH championships at Mid-Pacific, losing by less than a second. Kruse is one of only six boys this season to break 16 minutes, doing it at Kualoa. Kaahanui and Clemons have each done it twice and Kalani’s Toshihiro Kosins and Punahou’s Jacques Hebert and Gordon Kowalkowski have each done it once.
Kamehameha will be going for its second straight team title and fourth in five years but Punahou always looms.