Dakota Grossman: MIL Athlete of the Year

With seven state crowns, no one in Maui Interscholastic League history is more golden than Dakota Grossman.

The Seabury Hall rising senior’s latest run of success, including her third state championships in cross country and the 3,000 meters on the track, has made her The Maui News MIL Girl Athlete of the Year for 2012-13, giving her the award for a second straight time and the chance to become the first three-time recipient, boy or girl, next year.

“I think it’s really cool and I feel like I’m being rewarded for all the effort I put into my training and stuff,” Grossman said Wednesday at Erdman Athletic Center between shooting baskets with her father and coach, Bobby Grossman. “It definitely creates more goals for me.”

Dakota Grossman is tied with former Spartan standout Tia Ferguson for the most state titles in MIL history for either gender. In a few months, Grossman can become the second Hawaii boy or girl to win four state cross country titles, and first to do it all on three-mile courses – Punahou’s Eri Macdonald won every year from 1995 to 1998, all at two miles.

“It definitely encourages me to go for those goals,” she said. “I want to go out and get the fourth cross country gold medal, break the seven medals, win the 3,000 again and may-be, possibly, break the 1,500 state record that Zoe Sims (of Hawaii Prep) just got.”

Additional encouragement came on a recent trip to Oregon, when Grossman competed in the same meet as Mary Cain, a high school senior-to-be in New York who has qualified for the world championships in the 1,500. During the excursion, Bobby and Dakota Grossman attended the Prefontaine Classic and NCAA championships at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus – both Grossmans said Oregon is Dakota’s “dream school.”

They also ran into former Oregon coach Vin Lananna during a workout. Lananna has been the driving force behind Hayward Field landing the last two U.S. Olympic track trials, an event that will again be there in 2016.

“He shows up there and it is just him and his athlete and Dakota and me,” Bobby Grossman said. “I am on the phone and I said, ‘Dakota, I guess it is a good time to do your drills good.’ He said hi to her and talked to her for a few minutes, so that was pretty cool.”

Last month’s state track and field meet showed that Grossman is about more than individual titles.

Her 800, 1,500 and 3,000 individual triple – attempted by no one else – required six individual races in two days, and her leg in the 1,600 relay final meant she ran nearly seven miles in the meet.

Grossman provided 24 individual points – highlighted by her family’s sixth 3,000 victory in seven years, after older sister Hailey Grossman also won a trio of golds. Dakota Grossman finished second in the 1,500 when she and Sims each broke the existing 14-year-old state record, and placed third in the 800.

Seabury came up one point short of perennial champion Punahou in the team chase after the Buffanblu won the 1,600 relay while the Spartans finished fourth.

“Dakota is a special individual,” said Baldwin’s Gary Sanches, the dean of MIL track and field coaches. “What impressed us the most this year, it wasn’t all the individual stuff, it was trying to win the state track (title). She sacrificed a lot for the team.

“You aren’t going to find many athletes who would do that for the team. She is just a great person, a great personality, a great girl, a great athlete. I hope she has a lot more success in life.”

Grossman also owns a 1,500 gold, won as a sophomore after finishing second the previous year, when the Buffanblu beat the Spartans by 2 1/3 points in the race for the team title.

“My freshman year when I got second right at the end, it made me push harder and the next year I won,” she said. “This year, a couple of times people have tried to show me a video of my (1,500) race and I’m like, ‘I don’t want to watch.’ It was just kind of devastating – the state record, I broke it but (Sims) won the title. It definitely is hard to really think about, but it just makes me want to do better next year. I want to break that record again, so I leave with it.”

* Robert Collias is at