Twenty-two years is a long time.
Ask any of the Mililani Trojans about the year 2000, and they weren’t even born yet. Mililani ended the drought on Saturday, winning the OIA boys cross country championship at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park. Their first five harriers placed in the top 13, and only one is a senior.
Sophomore Payton Mukkada placed third overall with a time of 18 minutes and 16 seconds. Junior Robbey Navarro placed fifth (18:34), junior Luke Anderson placed 10th (18:56), junior Thomas Rosenbalm placed 11th (18:58) and senior Jason Winters placed 13th (19:02).
Junior Jourdan Hung came in 24th (19:52) and senior Gavin Bush was 27th (19:59).
The Trojans finished with 42 points, followed by Radford (68), Kalani (99), Kalaheo (102), Kaiser (163), Kapolei (183), Moanalua (203), Roosevelt (205) and Campbell (227).
“The most surprising thing is how consistent we were from week to week. The boys never look like they get out fast, but they always manage to maintain their pace and move up as the race progresses,” Trojans coach Nathan Aragaki said. “Same thing at the OIA championships. I was really concerned with their positioning a mile in. Then I thought, no biggie. It’s been like this all season.”
Mililani the 1994 league title under coach Derek Higa, and back-to-back titles in ’99 and ’00 under coach Paul Oshiro.
Getting through this season, with a non-COVID illness floating around across Oahu schools, has been a concern.
“The biggest challenge by far is just being healthy. Many were getting sick every week, it seemed like. I hope we’re through that now,” Aragaki said.
Camaraderie is a key ingredient to Mililani’s success.
“The kids are pretty laid back. They do a lot of joking around and get along well with each other. When it’s a complete team effort, it’s easier on a coach to get the runners motivated,” Aragaki said. “I feel good about this season. Our expectations are never about winning. If everyone gives it their all, we’re happy. It’s a young team, but they have experience.”
Yuta Colc, a Kalani junior, raced to the individual title with a time of 17:46.
Moanalua senior Colin Shimabukuro (18:07, second), Kalaheo senior Gray Brady (18:21, fourth), Kapolei senior Sage Soto (18:43, fifth), Radford junior Nathaniel Burress (18:46, seventh) and Radford senior Jonathan Benchoff (18:52, eight) also placed in the top 10.