State’s top sprinter, Keanu Wallace, tests negative twice, but ruled ineligible

Saint Louis football player and sprinter Keanu Wallace has waited patiently, but has seen some bad breaks. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

For three years, Keanu Wallace bided his time as a backup wide receiver.

It was not unexpected. He sat behind some of the top players in the state, and when he was preparing for senior year, a global pandemic happened.

It wiped out his junior season of track, where he is the top sprinter in the 100- and 200-meter events. It wiped out his football season as a senior, reducing his opportunities to a preferred walk-on opportunity at Washington. With a 4.45 grade-point average, Wallace will major in engineering.

Spring of 2021 brought some relief. Wallace was a standout big-play pass catcher in scrimmages against Punahou and Kamehameha. On the track, he ran a 10.84 in the 100 and a 22.75 in the 200, both on the same day Saint Louis played a scrimmage with the Mill Vill Trojans.

Last week Monday, he was on campus and took an AP class test in a room with a capacity of 366 people. In a situation that has become more common at schools across the state, one student tested positive for coronavirus, and the entire group was quarantined, per CDC guidelines adopted at Saint Louis. Wallace missed last week’s track and field meet, then was cleared after testing negative.

However, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu has a more stringent requirement of 10 days in quarantine. That means Wallace’s dream of breaking the ILH’s 100-meter record is coming to an end. Unless he runs in the trials this afternoon at Punahou’s Alexander Field, he will not be eligible to run in the finals on Friday.

If the trials were held one day later — Thursday — he would be eligible to run. Timing, it seems, has not been on his side.

“He’s a good kid, nothing but positive. He is what a Saint Louis man is,” Saint Louis assistant athletic director Gerald Welch said.

Welch has contacted the ILH several times, but his requests have been turned down. One idea involved using Wallace’s previous time during a regular-season meet. Another idea, from Wallace’s training coach, Mike Harvey, involves letting the senior run at Punahou an hour before the meet.

Saint Louis would be open to allowing Wallace to run on the school track, Welch said, since he has been cleared by the school’s standard. Set up a streaming video, time his sprints, and let the chips fall.

“If we were breaking the rules, I wouldn’t ask,” Welch said. “It’s not a normal year. This is different. It’s COVID. He came to school, took his test and went home.”

Normally, Wallace distance learns from home. Welch is in desperation mode for the youngster.

“I asked the league about the definition of a classroom,” he said.

The AP class test was taken in the school’s Presidential Suite.

Welch is far from antagonistic about the situation.

“The league has had to turn down kids at other schools. That’s what they said to me,” he said. “He’s tested negative twice.”

Pat Wallace, Keanu’s father, appreciates the effort.

“Gerald’s been working on this since Monday,” he said. “Keanu’s such a positive kid, and responsible. I’ve never seen him so bummed.”

The ILH has not commented on the matter publicly yet.


  1. Lala May 12, 2021 11:14 am

    Let him do his thing! WTAF

  2. rrforlifebaby May 12, 2021 11:31 am

    Let the kid play!!!!
    Red tape at it’s worst.


  3. ItIsWhatItIs May 12, 2021 11:46 am

    This is FcKn disgusting!!! This kid like many other seniors have lost so many things due to covid, and this is how they treat him. Instead of trying to figure out a way to help these kids, they just seem so say “No can”. We gotta do better for our local kids!! Truly a sad story. Shout out to Welch for doing what he can.

  4. Q May 12, 2021 11:56 am

    Wrong in so many levels!
    Hawaii has fools running it.

  5. ??? May 12, 2021 12:01 pm

    SAD! Adults with no common sense taking away opportunities for Keiki, not only in sports but in general.

  6. Hopeful May 12, 2021 12:14 pm

    So disappointing on your part ILH. Besides him playing and following your rules, what more could he have done? Let him run! Kudos to Welch for trying.

  7. Concern Parent May 12, 2021 12:32 pm

    It’s unfair for KEANU because ILH IF he’s Tested NEGATIVE!!! Then Let him Participate! IT IS HIS SENIOR YEAR!!!

  8. Wow May 12, 2021 1:44 pm

    This unforgettable story may be the capper on a forgettable school year. Very sad. Gladly, Wallace has a bright future to look forward to. Unfortunately, there are too many students and student/athletes that have fallen back and may never recover.

  9. Outsider May 12, 2021 1:49 pm

    Let him, and any others, run and play. Gerald Welch said it, not a normal year, this is Covid 19, not trying to break rules. Many adjustments made in other facets. Make adjustments for kids in sports.

  10. Rumorville May 12, 2021 1:53 pm

    Shouldn’t the school have tested the kids before the exam, rapid test? Too bad he has missed a lot but so have many others. Hope ILH can come to a solution.

  11. Outsider May 12, 2021 1:54 pm

    Gerald, if ILH won’t adjust, let him run at SLS track. Then publicize Keanu’s time!

  12. eastsidaz May 12, 2021 1:57 pm

    ILH has not helped any of these kids during these times. No solutions just rules. That’s sad! Hawaii High School athletes should turn to JPS from here on out. Start High School Club ball and work out an agreement with OC16 to airplay. College Coaches can clock into JPS club ball to recruit. JPS has done more for High School Athletes then ILH has. ILH collect fees and hasnt done anything for these kids. I say drop ILH and turn to JPS to revolutionize how we should do High School football here on out! So Sad what ILH has done to this kid. SO SAD!

  13. Imua2 May 12, 2021 5:58 pm

    What the heck in wrong with these people? Let the kids play. the regulations were from long time ago before the vaccinations, use common sense. Especially if he tested negative twice already. so what if they didn’t let other kids participate before, they made a mistake now do the right thing.

  14. FUTURE1 May 12, 2021 6:25 pm

    Agree Imua2! ILH needs to revisit and update their policies. Hawaii will loose more talented student athletes to the mainland. Sounds like protocols were followed and he was still denied. Would’ve been a treat watching him play. Good luck at the next level!

  15. Hauoli53 May 12, 2021 8:01 pm

    Let the best compete, so the best can prevail, otherwise we will never know. He has been there before and passes all protocols. Let the best compete.

  16. Adina May 13, 2021 5:12 am

    Please let him compete! I’m all about protocols and procedures being in the medical field.. but this is different! We need to make sure that our keiki still has the same opportunities that they normally would have!

  17. Minnie F May 13, 2021 8:02 am

    The ILH needs to realize that we are in the midst of a pandemic and focus on their mission, which is letting kids play!! Seems like a no brainer!

  18. Fairness ? May 13, 2021 8:25 am

    At KS spectators were allowed, in the stands, to watch a football scrimmage when NO Spectators are allowed at HS Sports events / games.

  19. Rough Rider Anthem May 13, 2021 10:15 am

    It’s not unfortunate… it’s UNFAIR!!! He should have the opportunity to compete! He tested negative 2x what more do you need? It’s not like he was out being reckless. He was taking a test that would benefit his future and now the ILH again is taking away from its student athletes! Think of all the ILH Students that have been affected by the way they have been operating! Some have lost scholarships, others have just given up. The parents of these athletes pay a lot of money for their child to attend these schools and better their kids opportunities of earning a college degree! ALOT OF MONEY! The ILH Should be ashamed of themselves! This is absolutely ridiculous! Let him compete!

  20. CHIZA1376 May 13, 2021 10:57 am

    It’s time for a change!!!! The ILH has been holding all these kids hostage for to long. Transfers not being able to play a sport if participation the previous year for other schools. Parents are paying thousands of dollars for tuition. We live on a small island with many schools. if the parents want their child to go to a private school why are the kids being punished for it. They are taking away an opportunity for the child get looked at for College recruitment and that is what some of them need to get into a good college financially. He has done nothing wrong and is still getting punished. His memory of Highschool will be that the ILH screwed him of his dream of breaking the ILH’s 100-meter record over something he had no control of!

  21. DaFuture May 14, 2021 11:13 am

    Sounds like a talented student/athlete. Would’ve been great to watch him play. Good luck young man! Stay positive!

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