This past October, HBA’s varsity girls team for cross country made history by being the first HBA team to win the Cross Country Division 2 State Championship title.
Junior Kacie Kwan also won the individual title of Girls ILH Champion with an outstanding time of 20:19. The boys varsity team also defended their Division 2 State Champion title for the second year in a row.
The girls team managed to best the division juggernaut, Maui’s Seabury Hall, which had been the Division 2 state champion for six years running. Furthermore, the girls unofficially scored better than Punahou, Division 1 state champion for the past 12 years, with a score of 33 compared to Punahou’s score of 35.
The girls team had their sights set on winning the state title this whole season. Head coach Derek Coryell explained, “We knew that we had a better chance of winning this year than we have ever had before. The team is the by far the most talented and committed in school history, and our preparations for the season and early season performances went well.” The girls top seven runners started training in the summer, and they began the season in better shape as a team than previous years. In addition to tough workouts like 800-meter repeats, the team also paid special attention to their running form and worked on strength and injury prevention exercises. Coryell also took the time outside of practice to have the team visualize the race to calm their nerves. “Our girls were nervous, but they decided to continue to believe in themselves, each other, and their coaches,” he said.
This year, the state championship race was held on Oahu at the Central Oahu Regional Park (CORP) in Waipio, a course familiar to HBA runners. The girl’s team planned to get out in the race quickly so they could be in good positions to move past competitors. With this plan in mind, the team aimed to have their top five runners place in the top 20 spots. Coryell said, “The girls did an extraordinary job of bravely getting out well but also having enough energy in reserve to finish the race in the top 20.” Throughout the race the girls kept a few things in their mind to motivate them: God, family, and each other. Jada Inouye, the only senior runner, said, “I kept my teammates in mind as a reminder as to why I am doing all of this.” Kwan added, “Knowing how hard my teammates have worked and how much they sacrificed gave me an extra boost of motivation.”
At the end of the race, although the runners were aware of their individual finishing positions, they didn’t know the team score and the overall result until Seabury Hall was announced as the second place winner. Sophomore Johanna Seng said, “As soon as I heard the second place name called, and I knew that HBA had won first, the feeling of satisfaction and relief emanating from the team was nearly tangible.” Sophomore Mari Monico described the feeling of winning as a “pinch me moment.” Junior Lindsay Sasaki recalled, “When I touched the trophy and saw my teammates ecstatic faces, I knew that we accomplished our goal the best that we could.”
The girls believe that what makes the team different from previous ones is the bond and friendship they have with each other. The girls describe the team as their second family, having “traveled, celebrated, cried and suffered together.” Sasaki said, “A bond between all of us has formed that is so much more than just a team.” Seng concurred and added, “Our team is so unique because we have this sort of quiet work ethic, but we’re also such a goofy, happy group. . . there’s that great balance of joy and humility on the team.”
To cap off this historic season, Coryell was named the ILH Co-Coach of the Year while Kwan and Seng were both named to the 1st Team All-Stars.