Cross Country: Making the Most of a Modified Season

Junior varsity runner Connor Malinger finished with the top time at the March 6 HBA-Punahou cross country virtual meet. He covered the two-mile race in 10:15:38. Photograph courtesy of Thatcher King.
Last spring, ILH directors weren’t sure whether or not there would be a competitive cross-country season, but fortunately for the dedicated runners on the HBA team, this past March has brought a handful of modified races.

Although runners must wear masks and are only allowed to race with their own team, it seems as though the athletes appreciate the opportunity to showcase their fitness and skill all the same.

Tomorrow is the ILH championship, and in preparation, we asked a couple athletes for their reflection on these past couple months of training and racing. “Cross-country has been fun, but it’s also more challenging with all the adjustments that we’ve made to make this season happen… However, the things that make being on the team enjoyable are still there,” said senior Shayli Maruya. Classmate Noah Hanohano agrees that the sport is different, and he’s a self-proclaimed “hater of running with masks.”

In this video, sophomore runner Jeremiah Seng caught up with two runners – freshman Ezekiel Lum, and junior Connor Malinger – to see how they have been doing:

Malinger has been training consistently since the end of the last track season, which was cut short about a year ago at the start of the pandemic. He shared his fall 5K time trials with the Eagle Eye, logged between September and early November, along with his reflections on how his training has gone so far:

Varsity runner Connor Malinger’s 5k time trails from the fall.
Malinger finished with the top time at the March 6 HBA-Punahou cross country virtual meet. He covered the two-mile race in 10:15:38. Photograph courtesy of Thatcher King.

Connor Malinger: Because of the cancelation and postponements of my track and cross country seasons, respectively, I was unable to run with other people until recently. I ran on my own every day around my neighborhood, fueled by my desire to improve and the hope that I would be more than ready to compete when the opportunity arose. Unfortunately, no opportunity presented itself and I was forced to do time trials on my own around a couple of flat blocks in my neighborhood.

During the spring I struggled a lot on my own because of the challenge of staying motivated and gaining mental strength. I ended up wanting to quit and hated running every day. But after I took a short break, I wanted to improve and get back on track. I had a lot more mental tenacity because of this, which in turn allowed me to progress greatly in the fall.

I surprised myself initially with my first time trial on September 19, although I held back significantly. In the weeks after, I slowly eroded the mental blocks that were preventing me from racing well as I slowly shaved seconds off of my time. Of course, there were setbacks. I struggled a lot during the month of October because I had just been able to get a taste of my goal, which was to run a solid sub-16 minute 5k, and it seemed like my legs were not able to keep up with my idea of my fitness. However, as I began to taper off in the hopes of one final effort, I was a lot more well-rested and felt I was ready to achieve my goal. I decided to do one more time trial before my final race effort, with the mindset of just doing my best without any pressure. I ran a 15:49 on November 4, a huge personal best and something that my coaches and I had not expected. I then decided to end my season there, knowing I would likely be unable to top that as my body and mind were worn thin from such an extended effort. After another short break, I dedicated myself to preparing for this upcoming track season in the hopes of accomplishing some of my long-time goals or at least coming close to them.


At the March 6 HBA-Punahou virtual meet, sophomore Caley Chun was HBA’s top finisher. She finished the 2-mile race at 12:39:70. Here is a video of her at the finish line:

Video courtesy of Thatcher King.

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Cross Country: Making the Most of a Modified Season

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