Honokaa’s Sophia Cash will be running for career glory, and Kealakehe’s Alec Ankrum will run for seasonal perfection.
Others will have slightly more modest goals at Friday’s league cross-country championships in Waimea, but they love to run nevertheless.
Count displaced junior Emma Marshall – Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science • Pahoa • Hamakua Coast – in that large subset.
“I’ve always been running on my own,” she said, “laps in the second grade, when everybody else was playing, I would be running laps. I didn’t know why, but when I found out there was a sport where people ran, I signed up right away. I’ve been here since the ninth grade.”
Until this season, she never had to run to find a home.
Like so many, life changed for Marshall and her ohana with the Kilauea lava flow outbreak in lower Puna.
“I grew up as a child where the lava (was) flowing,” she said. “I’ve walked pretty much everywhere barefoot down there with my horse, and we had a horse farm down there, and I used to run all through there for miles and miles.
“Our (last Pahoa) house wasn’t majorly affected, cause we’re on Kapalana side, but the air quality wasn’t good.”
Marshall’s family spent some time living in tents, but in the end hers was one of the lucky ones because “by some miracle we found a house in Laupahoehoe.”
That adversity was behind her, but another ordeal would soon pop up. While her siblings transferred to Laupahoehoe, Marshall stayed at HAAS so she could run for Pahoa – HAAS, a Pahoa charter school, doesn’t have its own team – as she did her first two seasons. She endured a county bus ride, which she has to catch at 6:35 a.m., to get from Laupahoehoe to Pahoa.
“There was drama because (they said) I couldn’t run for (Pahoa) if I lived in Laupahoehoe, so then they moved me to Laupahoehoe,” she said. o
On Sept. 15 at Keaau High, Marshall ran as the only Seasider in the girls 5K.
“I was kind of feeling homesick,” she said, “I missed my team. I thought it would be forever.”
Ultimately, Pahoa athletic director Hoku Haliniak said, the BIIF ADs voted to allow her to run for Pahoa this season, a sort of lava exemption.
“She is amazing,” Haliniak said, “rides a bus all days to HAAS to school and practice, while carrying a 4.0 (GPA) and works at the Hilo Library.”
And Marshall does it all just so she can run.
Marshall has since competed twice in Daggers green, finishing 13th in the heat Sept. 29 at Waiakea. She finished 12th behind the history-seeking Cash at the 2017 BIIF championships.
“It feels so right” to wear a Pahoa jersey, Marshall said. “Coach Patrick (Baker) is looking out for my best interests.”
Haliniak said next season Marshall might have to run for Honokaa or Hilo, though Marshall is hopeful that HAAS can field a team.
“I would say it’s great learning experience,” she said. “I got to learn a lot, I represent a different school, and I got a different coach.”
All eyes will be on Cash on Friday as she attempts to win her fourth consecutive title. According to BIIF records dating to 1972, no runner has pocketed four titles.
Kealakehe’s Leann Hamilton won three of six races during the regular season, including both meets at Hawaii Prep.
On the boys side, Ankrum, a sophomore, enters with six first-place finishers.
The girls final starts at 3:30 p.m., and the boys go off at 4:15 p.m.
Marshall will be there, grateful to be running for her old team, and appreciative of her new home.
“We were just living in tents, and a week later, found our house on the Hamakua Coast,” she said. “It’s so beautiful, it’s magical. It’s magical to have a new home.”