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Runners show training pays off at VITC meet

Crowe, Randolph win sprints at club’s 2nd event of season

Socially-distanced runners break froim the starting line in a rain-drenched boys 100 heat Saturday. Baldwin High's Joseph Randolph (third from left) won the heat with a time of 10.58. (check time if possible).

WAILUKU — Every early morning and solo workout that Maile Crowe has done amid the COVID-19 pandemic was just another opportunity to lace up the track spikes and improve.

The hard work and self-motivation showed on Saturday morning with her wins in the 13-18 girls 100- and 200-meter races at the Valley Isle Track Club Open Meet at the Yamamoto Track & Field Facility.

“The meets are really fun, so it’s not that hard for me to stay motivated for, but I’ve been training for the last nine months, and it’s just been me and my coach, so it’s been a little bit harder because there’s no teammates to motivate me,” said Crowe, a King Kekaulike High School senior who serves as student body president and is a member of the National Honor Society. “It’s just me getting myself to the track every morning.”

However, what motivates Crowe most is that every day when she finishes track practice, “I’m excited to come back the next day.”

“So even though sometimes I’m not excited to get up at 5:30 in the morning, come down to the track and train by myself, I always leave glad that I came and feeling a lot better about the work that I put in,” she said. “So, I’m ready to come back the next time and I just remember that.”

Valley Isle Track Club’s Maile Crowe wins her 100-meter heat Saturday. Crowe won the event with a time of 13.12 seconds.

Like other Maui Interscholastic League track and field athletes, Crowe’s last two seasons were wiped out by the pandemic, but being able to compete through the Valley Isle Track Club has been “super fun.”

She ran a 13.12-second 100, just edging Kamehameha Maui’s Jayce Bulosan (13.15) and Upcountry Runners’ Mele Sjostrand (13.96).

“It felt a little weird because that was my first 100 in over a year– I ran one last season and that was it– so it was fun to be back on the track,” she said.

Crowe also ran a personal record in the 200 with a 27.73. Bulosan finished second (28.17) and Sjostrand was third (29.00).

Saturday’s meet — held under Maui skies that brought the heat and later heavy rains — was the second of the season for the VITC, a state-registered nonprofit and a USA Track and Field Hawaii affiliate that is open to athletes 18 years old and under. The sanctioned meets also have a division for those 19 years old and above.

Kaylee Volner smiles after completing her girls 100 heat Saturday.

In the 13-18 boys sprint events, VITC’s Joseph Randolph finished first in both the 100 and 200 with times of 10.9 and 23.22, respectively.

In both sprints, Kamehameha senior Zach Genobia was only a stride or two behind with times 11.4 and 23.70, respectively.

Cruz Braun, also a senior at Kamehameha, clocked a third-place time in the 200 with 24.0.

“Being a sophomore and they’re seniors, they make me better in every way possible and give me competition,” Randolph, a Baldwin student, said of Genobia and Braun. “And I have two more years to get better as well.”

After Saturday’s events wrapped up, Braun, Genobia and Randolph all agreed that “it just feels nice to be back on the track.”

Joseph Randolph sprints to a win in the boys 100.

While some competitors only just started training again a few weeks ago, the trio noted that they never really stopped working out once COVID-19 hit and just kept their ears open for any opportunities for MIL play.

“This is just my last bang,” Genobia said. “I lost all my sports– wrestling, football– so I just wanted to do something sports-wise, and I just want it to be good, so it’s just my bang.”

Though the seniors’ career ended abruptly, Braun said he’s now off to Linfield University in Oregon after graduation with the intent to run track and play football at the NCAA Division III school.

“I’m looking forward to competing at that level of athletics and also looking forward to having new experiences, meeting new people,” he said.

Upcountry Runners’ Kaylee Volner swept the longer girls races — 1,500 (5:10.49) and 800 (2:41.10) — and also switched gears to run the 100.

Per USATF sanctioning rules, the 1,500 is run with only two athletes per heat on a staggered start, ensuring that the runners do not come within 6 feet of each other.

While these rules are for health and safety purposes, it’s not as competitive for the athletes “because I have to keep motivating myself to keep pushing the pace,” Volner said.

“Not having someone right on your back, you have a harder time trying to motivate yourself, but I’m trying to overcome that barrier,” said the Seabury Hall junior who was the 2019 state runner-up in cross country. “Just thinking about if someone was on my back, I would want to run faster and faster; just really wanting to get times out there to coaches, and this summer, hopefully travel to a lot of colleges and talk to some coaches.”

VITC president Jesse Henderson said next Saturday’s meet is already the last scheduled, but he is hopeful that the county will release a few more weekends.

“So far I’ve just been very grateful that we have this season because for a while there it didn’t look like we were going to have any track meets or anything and I wanted to really improve myself,” Volner said. “From the last week to this week, I already have and I just want to keep on improving.”

* Dakota Grossman is at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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