MAKAWAO - As she waited for teammates to arrive for the start of her final week as a high school cross country runner, Dakota Grossman smiled.
When asked a few questions about finishing her remarkable career at the Honolulu Marathon Hawaii Cross Country Championships on Friday on Kauai, the Seabury Hall senior and winner of the last three state cross country races frowned just a bit.
"It's pretty shocking how fast it has gone," Grossman said. "I can remember my first cross country race as a freshman really clearly, so it is kind of sad that it's pretty much the end of my (prep) cross country (career). All my girls are, 'Oh, are you going to be OK?' And I'm, like, 'I'm going to miss all you guys,' so it's pretty sad, but I'm trying not to think about it too much. I'm just going to enjoy myself."
Seabury Hall’s Dakota Grossman will be competing in the Honolulu Marathon Hawaii Cross Country Championships on Friday on Kauai. She is hoping to join Punahou’s Eri Macdonald as the only four-time state cross country champions.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Grossman can join former Punahou and University of Oregon standout Eri Macdonald as the only four-time state cross country winners, boy or girl, in Hawaii history with a victory at the Island School course in Lihue. Macdonald won her titles from 1995 to 1998.
"Winning four state titles, I think, is in my future hopefully," Grossman said. "I have been thinking about it since last year. Everybody was, 'What about winning your third and then your fourth?' It has been a huge goal for me to win four state titles in my high school career, so hopefully I can do that."
Grossman has stamped herself as the favorite with an undefeated senior season with faster times across the board on Maui Interscholastic League courses and at the Iolani and Hawaii Preparatory Academy invitationals, both of which featured Mainland teams.
MULTIPLE GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
4-Eri Macdonald, Punahou (1995-98)
3-Dakota Grossman, Seabury Hall (2010-12); Nina Liahjell, Kaiser (1983-85).
2-Lauren Ho, Hawaii Baptist (2004-05); Tammy Cartwright, Radford (1980-81).
"I don't think there's any more (pressure) than usual," Grossman said. "I just kind of get used to it and deal with it."
Grossman is being recruited by Oregon State, Northern Colorado and Western Oregon, along with several smaller schools. She attended the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., and says she would like to follow Macdonald's footsteps and be a Duck.
Bobby Grossman, Seabury Hall's coach, said his daughter is ready to roll one more time.
"She has been running pretty dominant this year," Bobby Grossman said. "Hopefully over the next couple of days she doesn't get injured or sick - we never take anything for granted. She always goes out when the gun goes off, it doesn't matter who is running against her, she always goes hard as she can. Whatever happens that day happens, but she's ready to win her fourth state title.
"What that represents, we have talked about it since freshman year, so it has been a goal since then."
A victory Friday would also make Grossman the winningest MIL state champion of all-time, with eight gold medals. She is currently tied with former Seabury Hall and Duke runner Tia Ferguson.
The Spartans won the inaugural Division II state team title last season and have a bigger goal in mind this time around - an overall crown. Punahou appears to be the team standing in their way.
Seabury Hall finished 1-2-3-4-8 at the MIL championships last week on Molokai with teammates Ally Smith, Ava Shipman, Kiana Smith and Christy Fell following Grossman across the finish line.
"For D-II states, we are definitely going for that again," Dakota Grossman said. "Overall, we want to see how we do in Division I just so we can see. We have been working hard."
Freshman Sara Mutzenberg will join the team for the state meet after she missed much of the season, including the MIL meet, with lower leg injuries. Bobby Grossman said Mutzenberg is a possible top-five scorer for the Spartans.
"Punahou is just so strong," he said. "We are taking some track athletes and trying to make them distance runners. (Punahou) will have five in the top 20, we may get four, but our main goal is to finish as best we can at states, regardless."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org