Moanalua junior Rashod Tanner won three events at the OIA track and field championships last weekend.
But it was only part of a whirlwind and sad yet uplifting week that took him to Temecula, Calif., and back in between Thursday’s trials and Saturday night’s finals.
Tanner’s grandfather died the week earlier. The funeral date was Friday, leaving Rashod to decide what to do.
“Rashod was willing to do whatever to work for his family and his team,” said his father Donta Tanner in a Monday phone interview. “He is a good person and was a good sport about the whole thing.”
Rashod would never want to miss his grandfather’s funeral. But he also wouldn’t want to miss an ultra important meet.
So he did both.
“OK, we gotta do this,” Rashod said Monday about his thinking at the time. “I love my papa so much and I love track.”
Alvin Lawrence Miller Sr., the father of Rashod’s mom Anita Tanner, was a Vietnam Navy veteran, rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He was 79.
“I was so glad that Rashod was able to go and see his grandfather and pay his respects,” Donta Tanner said. “They had a really close relationship. Rashod even stood up at the services and gave some heartfelt words. He was an outgoing and strong-willed man. Everybody called him Pops, except his grandkids, who called him Papa.
“I spent 20 years in the military and would go on deployment, off and on. So he (Alvin Miller) lived with Rashod for a period of time. They (Alvin and his wife) would often come to wherever we were (stationed). It was not that he saw his grandfather periodically. He was a big part of our family.”
Rashod Tanner won the 100-meter dash (11 seconds), 200-meter dash (22.29) and the long jump (21 feet, 1.25 inches) in the finals of the OIA championship meet, carrying Alvin Lawrence Miller Sr.’s spirit with him.
And he had an amazing, memorable and whirlwind adventure to boot.
“The flight out Thursday was going to leave at 10 p.m.,” Donta said. “At the preliminaries, he ran to make sure he at least qualified for all of the individual events. As soon as the 200 dash was done, we had to roll out. We went straight to the airport from the track meet. Got on the plane, flew into L.A., jumped in a rent-a-car, drove two hours to Temecula, and got there at 8:30 a.m.
“The funeral was scheduled for noon. After the funeral, Rashod had an exchange of conversation (with his Papa), put his head down. If you were there, you couldn’t hold your tears.”
Alvin Miller received full military honors with a flag-folding ceremony and the flag was presented to Alvin’s wife, Asenathe Reaux Miller, who is 78.
“We left the funeral and spent the rest of Friday with loads of family and friends,” Donta continued. “Shod and I woke up early, 4:30 Saturday morning, drove to L.A., had to be there at 8 to catch a 10 a.m. flight. Got back to Hawaii at almost almost 2 p.m.
“We went from the airport back home, grabbed his uniform and went straight to the meet at Miliani. Right when we got there, it was almost the final call for the long jump. He had to warm up and as soon as he completed the warm-up, it was time for them to jump. He spent 10 hours in a plane over a two-day period and four hours in a vehicle. Pretty amazing he was able to perform like he performed.”
Rashod gave his first-hand perspective.
“It was a journey, man. I got to see my whole family,” he said. “My dad was so supportive, telling me I gotta get as much sleep as I can and hydrate. Dad was pushing the fluids.
“My family (when in California) all encouraged me. They said they knew that I was doing so good in track through social media. They see all that and they gave me encouraging words. That made me push and do really good.
“Oh man, it was straight to the long jump. I wanted to do my best for my Papa and my family and make them proud. It was a good start to the day. I won that (long jump). I felt good in the 100 and, even though we didn’t get first in the 4×100, I was so proud of everybody and how they did and how they were encouraging me, knowing I just came from the plane.
“Then the 200 came up and I was actually getting encouragement from other track people. I got to the blocks, closed my eyes. I felt like I was remembering Papa a lot. He always told me I had something going. He would greet me with, ‘Hey Shodddddy,’ really elongating it. I felt him all through the blood in my veins and I PR’d. He gave me pride of who I am and that I don’t have to change for anybody and to be strong about who I am and that I don’t have to prove anybody wrong.”
Rashod’s amazing three-day journey was meant to be, according to his mother Anita.
“Papa was always one of his greatest supporters, always wishing him his best and checking on him after each football game or track meet,” she said. “With Rashod traveling back to compete in the finals after his Papa’s funeral service, I can say, as did the family, his Papa wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’m sure he was cheering him on at both the trials and the finals.”
At the state meet on Maui May 3-4, Tanner is striving to: get into the 10s in the 100, run 21 in the 200 and long jump 22 feet.
“My goal is to do my best,” he said. “I’m focusing on doing my best.”
In the fall, Tanner — who is 5 feet 10 and 150 pounds, returns to the Moanalua football team as a cornerback.
He is listed as a three-star recruit by redzoneprospects.com.
His profile on that website reads:
“Great feet and hips, strong in the air and a sure tackle. Also, with NFL veteran Mark McMillian (Eagles, Saints, Chiefs, 49ers, Redskins from 1992 to ’99) in his corner, Tanner has a bright future ahead. There’s no doubt about it. With track-type speed to boot, he projects as an NCAA Division I-AA or Division I-A recruit.”
It also mentions that Tanner runs a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash.