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Shapiro, Volner pick up victories as VITC completes inaugural XC season

Kaylee Volner runs to a dominating win in the girls under-18 race at the Valley Isle Track Club meet Saturday at Seabury Hall. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

OLINDA — Quinn Shapiro won a cross country race for the first time in his life on Saturday. It came in the Valley Isle Track Club championship meet, which is quite likely the last sanctioned cross country race Shapiro will ever run.

The Kihei Charter School senior ran the 5-kilometer course at Seabury Hall in 18 minutes, 23 seconds to edge Ozzi Doherty and Jonah Kirkham, both of Maui Prep who finished second and third, respectively.

“This was awesome, I’ve actually never won a race before, so I’m really excited,” Shapiro said. “My last cross country meet ever, so it feels pretty great.”

It was the fifth and final meet of the VITC season — it drew just over 50 runners total in the under-14 and under-18 age divisions.

The short season was drawn up as an alternative for runners who wanted to compete after the Maui Interscholastic League officially canceled fall and winter sports seasons for high school student-athletes in January.

Quinn Shapiro sprints on the final lap on his way to winning the boys U-18 race.

“It was a bummer when the season got canceled, so being able to compete here is really awesome,” Shapiro said with a gold medal draped around his neck.

Shapiro is waiting to hear back about college applications to Stanford, Harvard and Northwestern, where he may run on a club level. He is considering a major in environmental engineering.

“It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to race with everybody,” Shapiro said. “Without this I wouldn’t be able to see these people, for kind of the last time because we’re all going off to college.”

With word last week from the Hawaii state Department of Education that high school spring sports practices can begin as soon as today, Shapiro said the runners who did the compact VITC season will be ready for any kind of MIL track and field season.

“I think it absolutely helps us,” Shapiro said. “It really helps build a base for the track shorter distance stuff. I think doing these competitions will definitely give us a leg up.”

Under-18 runners break from the starting line Saturday morning at Seabury Hall

Kaylee Volner, a Seabury Hall junior, was the first girl finisher in the older age group — boys and girls ran their races at the same time in each age group. Volner was the 2019 state girls runner-up in cross country as a sophomore.

“It’s been so cool just because in high school cross country you don’t run with middle schoolers,” said Volner, who was the first girl finisher in the U-18 division in all five races while running for her Upcountry Runners club — her time Saturday was 19:31.7. “Our club practices together, so I’ve gotten to train with middle schoolers, who have pushed me and I have helped push them.

“So, it’s been really nice and having a community right now is so nice in a pandemic.”

When asked how it is to run with the boys, Volner smiled.

“It’s so cool,” she said. “It has definitely helped my times a lot, just being able to push myself because sometimes when there’s not a lot of people around you it’s just you against the clock and you don’t know how to push yourself, but with the boys you want to catch each other.”

Rylee Stout (4th photo) and Jacob Romero (5th photo) race to wins in the under-14 division Saturday.

Jacob Romero, an eighth grader at Seabury Hall, won the boys U-14 title.

“It’s a good experience because we haven’t had it for a while,” Romero said. “It was really nice for the coaches and the community to put on an event like this, for kids to find a way to exert their energy, have fun, hang out with each other.”

Rylee Stout, also a Seabury Hall eighth grader, won all five races in the girls U-14 division. She agreed with Volner that running with the boys makes her faster.

“It definitely motivates me to go faster, and have different goals, and people to beat,” Stout said.

Running in the midst of Volner and the legacy that Seabury Hall carries is also a motivational factor for Stout. Bobby Grossman, the Spartans’ head coach for girls track and cross country, is the coach of the Upcountry Runners club.

Jacob Romero

“Knowing that our coach is the best of the best and that he helps runners become the best of the best is definitely really, like, motivating,” Stout said. “Like, ‘OK, I can do this. If they can do it, I can.’ “

With the COVID-19 pandemic largely shutting down sports for teenagers around the state for the past year, Stout was grateful for the opportunity.

“It was huge because, I mean, practicing is great, but there’s only so much motivation you can get from practicing just to keep your stamina,” she said. “When you have actual races it’s a lot more motivating.”

VITC president Jesse Henderson said the season was all he hoped for.

“Definitely, this is definitely a success,” he said as he watched the U-14 race unfold. “The kids have had the opportunity to compete and that’s the bottom line. We would have loved to have had a lot more kids out here, but the reality is the ones who have been out here have had fun, they’ve gotten to compete.

“And it’s been safe, we haven’t had any issues — it doesn’t get a lot better than that.”

While the county recently announced that Satoki Yamamoto Track & Field Facility inside War Memorial Stadium is available for high school practices, much is still unknown by coaches and administrators about the protocols and how to secure actual reserved practice time.

While the MIL works on getting to what appears will be a short track and field season, Henderson said VITC is ready to step up whenever needed. They are also hopeful of running track meets during the summer, whether they be for middle school ages and below or high school athletes, too.

“We didn’t do this just for the COVID thing, we did this to help grow the sport moving forward,” Henderson said. “We’re still looking for our fundraising to buy a timing system so that we can help out Kiwanis (meet) with (fully automatic) timing.”

Henderson said the fundraising goal for the timing system is about $6,500.

“Once the MIL goes back (to action) we want to be able to do middle school, elementary school meets with FAT timing,” he said. “Once we get that, we just need the track. We’re hopeful of doing something starting in April. We want to be in a position where if the MIL is unable to, for whatever reason, to put competitions on, we want to be positioned, where, ‘OK, we’re ready.’

“We’ve already done our sanctioning paperwork and that’s where we need the support of the mayor’s office to say ‘Yes, you can use the stadium if you need it.’ “

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

*****

Valley Isle Track Club

Saturday’s Results

At Seabury Hall

U-18 (5K)

Girls–1. Kaylee Volner, Upcountry Runners, 19:31.7; 2. Prianna Dugied, Upcountry Runners, 22:12.3; 3. Julia Knowles, Run it Forward, 23:22.4; 4. Lily McLeod, Upcountry Runners, 23:51.7; 5. Ellison Shapiro, Run it Forward, 24:08.9; 6. Sarah Pease, VITC, 26:11.2; 7. Kirra Spalding, VITC unattached, 27:06.8; 8. Kayla Bush, Upcountry Runners, 27:11.0; 9. Natea Rosete-Tokuhisa, VITC Central Maui, 27:12.7.

Boys–1. Quinn Shapiro, Run it Forward, 18:23.0; 2. Ozzi Doherty, Pueo Athletic Club, 18:43.1; 3. Jonah Kirkham, Pueo Athletic Club, 18:52.0; 4. Kaimana Cantere, VITC Central Maui, 18:57.2; 5. Nixon Moffett, West Side Run Club, 20:13.7; 6. Felix Velasquez, Run it Forward, 20:18.3; 7. Slater Fleck, Pueo Athletic Club, 20:20.3; 8. Max Anklam, VITC Central Maui, 20:31.3; 9. Devin Andaluz, Run it Forward, 20:57.2; 10. Mason Anklam, VITC Central Maui, 21:01.2; 11. Patryk Klaput, VITC Central Maui, 21:11.5; 12. Byron Ellis, Run it Forward, 21:20.5; 13. Drazen Feliciano, VITC Central Maui, 21:20.9; 14. Pierce Armstrong, Pueo Athletic Club, 21:27.1; 15. Riley Satovich, Run it Forward, 21:31.6; 16. Galen Okamoto, VITC Central Maui, 21:58.9; 17. Aidan Javier, Run it Forward, 23:12.4.

U-14 (2 miles)

Girls–1. Rylee Stout, Upcountry Runners, 13:31.6; 2. Elizabeth Carter, Upcountry Runners, 14:45.9; 3. Kayla Ratte, Run it Forward, 14:47.9; 4. Olivia Aoki, Upcountry Runners, 15:00.6; 5. Aurora Zoetewey, Upcountry Runners, 15:01.1; 6. Kailana Hagan, Upcountry Runners, 15:12.0; 7. Isabella Grossman, Upcountry Runners, 15:27.3; 8. Jessie Young, Pueo Athletic Club, 16:23.8; 9. Kalia Kaneta, VITC unattached, 16:55.7; 10. Audrey Taylor, West Side Run Club, 23:02.5; 11. Kathryn Taylor, West Side Run Club, 27:08.2.

Boys–1. Jacob Romero, Upcountry Runners, 12:07.1; 2. Micah Brighton, Upcountry Runners, 13:09.1; 3. Zach Downs, St Anthony’s, 13:14.5; 4. Bazel Potratz, Upcountry Runners, 13:29.9; 5. Owen Romero, Upcountry Runners, 14:11.2; 6. Maxwell Watson, VITC, 14:12.0; 7. Jack Leone, Pueo Athletic Club, 14:35.2; 8. Cameron Henry, Pueo Athletic Club, 15:51.4; 9. Noah Caiserman, Pueo Athletic Club, 16:17.4; 10. Blake Sarchet, VITC Central Maui, 17:11.3.

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