The runner to watch put on a performance worthy of all the attention.
Seabury Hall junior Dakota Grossman won her third consecutive girls cross country state title Friday on the Big Island, crossing the finish line in the Honolulu Marathon Championships at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in 20 minutes, 21.9 seconds to help the Spartans also claim the inaugural Division II team title.
" I felt a little more pressure," Grossman said. "I felt like everyone waned me to win for the third time. I felt like there was more pressure for those reasons."
Elli Brady of Punahou was the girls runner-up, 8.9 seconds behind, and was followed by her teammate and sister Teri Brady, in 20:37.6.
"That's what pushed me through the race," said Grossman, who also owns three state track gold medals. "I kind of run scared, I guess."
Seabury finished with 207 points, fifth overall.
The Spartans overcame a sprained ankle by MIL runner-up Kiana Smith, who finished 150th on Friday. The other runners to score points for Seabury were Ally Smith (27th in 22:48.6), Lia Matsunaga (52nd in 23:47.9), Christy Fell (74th in 24:38.9) and Jenna Loesberg (95th in 25:00.1). Natalie Rothman was 122nd in 25:42.5.
"Jenna, who we just had run - we weren't going to have her run today - ended up with a good finish," said Spartans coach Bobby Grossman, Dakota's father. "We fought through it. As the race was going, Jenna, I told her she was No. 5, and we needed her - 'You can rest tomorrow and every day after that.' "
Seabury's only other team state championship in girls competition was at the 1990 cross country meet.
"That was our goal from the beginning," Dakota Grossman said. "We came into the season with a good attitude. Everyone was focused. I think it all paid off."
Grossman, unbeaten against Hawaii runners in her high school career, is the fifth Hawaii boy or girl to win three state cross country individual championships.
"Her number today was 111," Bobby Grossman said. "I asked her, 'Is that first win, second win, third win?' "
The only four-time state champion is Eri Macdonald, who took the titles from 1995 through 1998 while at Punahou, when girls races were two miles.
"Even before this states, I wanted to be first person in history to win four times at three miles," Dakota Grossman said. "It would pretty awesome."
Baldwin's James Pearson was eighth in the boys race in 18:11.0, and Lahainaluna's Corban Kaikkonen was 14th in 18:20.3. Davis Kaahanui won in 17:07.9, leading Kamehameha Kapalama to the team title.
"I'm satisfied today. I placed, I did what I wanted," said Pearson, this year's MIL champion.
Seabury had the top finish among MIL boys teams, placing second in D-II and ninth overall. Led by Brenden Heitzman's time of 18:34, good for 25th, the Spartans scored 254 points.
Maui High was 11th with 308 points. Devin Vandervoort was 28th in 18:41.4.
Kamehameha's winning total was 83.