Editor’s note: While the sports world is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Hawaii Today will look back every Tuesday at memorable sports moments on the Big Island.
If you take a peek into Hawaii Prep’s state record book, through the 1980s and 90s there’s a common theme — the words “cross-country” repeated over and over, for both girls and boys.
The beginning of Ka Makani’s dominance in the sport began in 1983, and it was a history-making win for the school. Their state title in boys cross country that year was the first state championship in any sport for Ka Makani, and they were the first cross-country team from a neighbor island to claim the state title.
Hawaii Prep, led by head coach Stan Shutes, broke through to the top of the cross-country standings after almost a decade of dominance by Oahu’s Radford and Punahou.
On their way to the 1983 state title, Ka Makani also swept the Punahou Invitational that year and swept the BIIF cross country championships on Nov. 12, coming in first in the girls individual and team titles and in first in the boys individual and team titles.
“‘This is the best team we’ve ever had,’ Shutes told Bill O’Rear, then writing for West Hawaii Today. ‘It’s a product of three or four years ago when we had a strong team led by Ty Woosley. The seniors inspired the ninth graders into developing.’”
Hawaii Prep was led by seniors Chris Carswell, David Hendrickson and Alejandro Grundseth in the state championship. They finished in third, sixth and eighth place, respectively.
Ka Makani sophomore Kimo Higgins finished in fourth, and sophomore Eric Heneghan finished in 14th place overall.
The Hawaii Prep girls came in third that year.
After his success in 1983, Shutes would again lead Ka Makani to a state title in 1995 in a different sport, when the girls track and field team won their first championship.
Hawaii Prep’s success in cross-country also continued after 1983. Ka Makani won the girls team cross country titles in 1987, 1989, 1993 and 1994 under coach Phil Conley; it also won the boys team title for four consecutive years in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 under coach Karl Honma.
Hawaii Prep would return for a cross-country state title after more than a decade in 2011 for the girls team and in 2014 and 2015 for the boys.
Shutes would predict in 1983 the future success of Ka Makani’s runners and BIIF schools.
“With four returnees and a handful of talented varsity runners moving up, Shutes said the Ka Makani’s cross-country teams (boys and girls) should remain strong for the next two to three years,” Bill O’Rear wrote in a Nov. 29, 1983 article in West Hawaii Today.
“Shutes said he believes the BIIF has gotten better at cross country. …He credited it to the increase in people running in the Kona area, where the triathlon and several running events dot the calendar annually.”