Under Casa Grande, Arizona’s desert sky in 80-degree heat, ___ members of the ‘Iolani’s Cross Country team challenged the top cross country runners at the Desert Twilight Invitational in September. As Hawaii state champions in 2016, the Raiders covered the same course as the Nike Southwest Regional Championships previously.
The Raiders’ five fastest runners -- Joshua Morisaki ‘19 (4th place), Gideon Devendra ‘19 (6th), Scott Okagawa ‘19 (10th), Kanalua Monaco ‘20 (19th), and Tate McAluney ‘19 (27th)-- put in a strong performance to clinch first overall in the Men's Small School Open 5K.
“When we arrived at the meet, we weren't sure what to expect. With new competition, different terrain and dry weather, coming in fourth place was definitely a surprise,” said Josh Morisaki ‘19. “Winning the first place team score with the boys was a great climax to the season, and it showcased all our hard work that began in the summer.”
The girl’s team captured 7th in the Women’s Small School Varsity 5K, thanks to talented runners Aya Margraf ‘20, Leilani Tandy ‘19, Jamie Tanaka ‘18, Kari Tanji ‘19, and Danae Dunn’19.
“In Arizona, the air was definitely a lot drier compared to Hawaii's humidity, which made it harder to breathe, but we still pushed through and tried our hardest,” said Kari Tanji ‘19. “In the end, everyone ran a great race. For me, it was a little nerve-wracking going into the race, which was comprised of more than 300 runners, but once the competition started, it felt like a normal race except that everyone was so fast!” said Kari Tanji ‘19.
‘Iolani Cross Country also competed in Men’s and Women’s 5K Small School Freshman, Men's 5K Sweepstakes, and Women’s 5K Small School open races. After impressive performances, the team took a well-deserved day off to see Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona where they had a chance to cool off and swim in Slide Rock River!