Naylor outlasts Volner for girls XC title
OLINDA — Emily Naylor finished 99th in the Honolulu Marathon State Cross Country Championships last year.
Saturday morning at Seabury Hall, she stood alone at No. 1.
The Kalaheo High School sophomore tracked down Seabury Hall sophomore Kaylee Volner with about half a mile to go in the 3.1-mile (5-kilometer) course and won in 19 minutes, 37.87 seconds.
“I looked at the time standings and I knew I had a shot if I pushed hard enough, but only if I pushed hard enough,” the 5-foot redhead from Oahu said in the finish area. “I had to tell myself: ‘They may be faster than me, but not today.’ “
Naylor bided her time early in the race and passed each and every runner in front of her.
“I started out in about 30th or 40th, so I had to kind of start picking people off within the first half-mile, but then definitely within the 2-mile (mark), I passed the fourth- and third- and second-place person,” Naylor said. “Then I decided to try and take the first-place (Volner) within the last half-mile or so.”
Volner finished second in 19:58.30, 20 seconds behind Naylor, to lead the Maui Interscholastic League champion Spartans to second place in the Division II team standings with 40 points, 11 behind Hawaii Baptist Academy.
Punahou (26) won the Division I girls team championship.
Volner needed time in the medical area after expending all of her energy in the race.
“Oh, I feel so overwhelmed right now,” Volner said. “It’s such an accomplishment for me, it’s been my goal (to do well), so I’m actually so proud of myself right now.”
The other Spartans’ scorers included MIL champion Kallalei Ryden, who was 10th in 20:21.51; Priana Dugied, who was 22nd in 21:04.70; Rio Imperato, who was 43rd in 21:53.61; and Lily McLeod, who was 101st in 23:10.98.
“I’m also so proud of my teammates because they pushed me since the beginning, eighth grade actually,” Volner said. “I’m so honored to be able to run that time here on a very hard course, my home course.”
Volner received messages of encouragement from a few former Seabury Hall state champions going into the race.
“Actually, I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, teammates, past teammates — I’ve trained with Dakota Grossman, who’s a four-time state champion; Veronica Winham, she’s a two-time state champion, they’ve all done amazing; and Chloe Gangnath, who won last year,” Volner said. “They’ve actually all texted me this morning, wishing me luck. Definitely, it would be an honor to be added to that list.”
Ryden, a senior from Canada, edged Volner for the MIL title last week on this same course.
“It was hot, but it’s a home course, so we know all the turns, we know all the hills, we know where to cut places off,” Ryden said. “So, it’s so fun having everyone from all over the state here to run. It’s just a whole different feel.”
Ryden was impressed with Volner.
“She left everything out there, she pushed so hard, she really wanted to do well today,” Ryden said. “She did amazing. I’m so proud of her, she left it all out there.”
It is the second straight D-II runner-up team finish for Seabury Hall following six straight state titles.
“The team worked hard, you know, we’re a young team, so coming into this event, dealing with their own expectations or what they feel in the crowd in our home field, there’s a lot of energy in it, so hopefully it was a good experience for them to move forward,” Seabury Hall coach Bobby Grossman said. “Kaylee made it interesting for us today and the end, made it fun. She did everything possible she could, she pushed the pace today, which in the end made her legs a little shaky, but you can’t say anything more about what she did.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.