Cross-country: Skill and grace on display at Vulcans’ invitational

  • UHH photo Hawaii Pacific junior Robyn Kaltenbrunn cruised to victory Saturday at the UH Hilo Cross Country Invitational.
  • UHH photo Chaminade’s Alena Albertson outraces UHH’s Olivia Jarvis to finish second Saturday at the UH Hilo Cross Country Invitational.

Sometimes the best things about cross-country runners are the different outlooks: Those who have a great sense of humor and those who have a great sense of perspective.

For Hawaii Pacific junior Robyn Kaltenbrunn, the UH Hilo Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at the Naniloa Golf Course served as a tuneup. She won the 6K race in a blistering time of 22:58.

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She’s an elite runner from South Africa, who has 11 national medals and aims to finish in the top 3 at the PacWest championships, slated in two weeks in Fullerton, Calif.

“It was a workout for us to prepare for the conference championships,” Kaltenbrunn said. “We want to finish in the top 5. My goal was to finish in 22:15. My best time is 22:02. I’ve been running since I was 9-years-old.”

Olivia Jarvis was UHH’s best finisher in third place. She was behind Kaltenbrunn but got overtaken at the finish line by Chaminade’s Alena Albertson, who clocked in at 24:02 to Jarvis’ 24:03.

Instead of lamenting the drop from second to third, the Vulcan sophomore instead found the silver linings on a day that featured no rain and preferable running weather.

“It was a good race. The conditions were great. There were no mud puddles,” she said. “I’m not a sprinter, and I used what I had left. I finished as strong as I could.”

Not everyone will challenge for a top spot. There’s nothing wrong with setting realistic goals. Jarvis falls into that category.

“My goal is to be all-conference, finish in the top 21,” she said. “I want to do the best I can.”

Kaltenbrunn landed at HPU in an unusual way. Her times as a prep were just below Division I standard. Zola Budd, the South African Olympic runner, was an assistant at Coastal Carolina, a previous stop for HPU coach Jackie Sgambati.

One reason she chose HPU was she was tired of running away from lines, according to the school’s website. She also found joy living near the beach as opposed to Benoni, a town in South Africa, where it’s hot and dry.

She’s a marketing major but would like to be a photographer like her father, Trevor. Until then, Kaltenbrunn will continue to run away from lions and chase medals.

The race was also a homecoming for HPU freshman Sophia Cash, a 2019 Honokaa graduate, who placed seventh in 25:11.

UHH’s other runners were Caitlin Kawaiaea, 11th, 26:26; Emma Heidelmeier, 13th, 26:41; Annaka Barragan, 14th, 26:55; Sabina Boo-Rivera, 15th, 27:08; Makena Morris, 16th, 27:32; Lily Gavagan, 17th, 27:54; and Shaelee West, 21st, 33:52.

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HPU won the team title with 23 points, followed by UHH, 56; and Chaminade, 58.

HPU’s Lukas Motschmann won the men’s 8K race in 25:35, and the Sharks beat Chaminade for the team title, 23-36.

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