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.