PUUANAHULU — Running on easily the most scenic course on the BIIF ’s cross-country circuit, it would have been easy for Alec Ankrum to get caught up in the sprawling views of the Big Island coast during Saturday’s meet at Makani Golf Club.
But the Kealakehe junior speedster had his sights set on only one thing: the finish line and a fourth consecutive meet title to start the year.
Ankrum clocked a time of 17 minutes and 20 seconds to maintain his usual top spot on the podium. He was followed by Hawaii Preparatory Academy freshman Kanoa Blake (17:27) and John Marrack (18:23) from Hilo.
The race started on one of the Makani fairways, but the 5K trek didn’t touch much of the course’s pristinley maintained grass after that. Much of the route included loose-rock terrain and puddles from some recent rain, keeping runners on their toes.
“It was a beautiful but challenging course,” Ankrum said. “There are a lot of hills and you have to keep your head up and watch your footing.”
Ankrum had some company at the front of the pack in Blake, which hasn’t always been the case.
“He can push me and I can push him,” Ankrum said with a smile. “Sometimes it can get boring up there.”
The meet was hosted by Kealakehe and some experience with the course through a few practice runs helped some of the Waverider runners, most notably freshman Cozette Wood, who notched her first win with a time of 21:26.
“I got off to a good start and had a strong finish,” Wood said. “There’s a big hill to start the race and at the end. It’s tough but I made it.”
Wood filled in atop the results for teammate Leann Hamilton, who had been the top BIIF finisher at the last two races, but was dealing with an illness this week that slowed her to seventh. Wood credited the support of Hamilton and her other teammates as a reason for her early success.
“I just started running and I love it,” Wood said. “I decided to do cross-country, met all these people and they’re super awesome. They’re a lot of fun to be with and make me laugh.”
Hilo’s Alexia Palafox and Keaau’s Leilani Stone rounded out the top three girls finishers in the race.
In the team competition Kamehameha squeaked out a win on the boys side with 62 points, edging second place Waiakea (68) and third place Kealakehe (70).
“It’s wide-open,” Kealakehe head coach Patrick Bradley said of the results. A different team has won every boys meet this season.
In the girls team competition, Hilo edged Kealakehe for the top finish.