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Maui Prep Cross Country teams competing in club schedule

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Feb 26, 2021

The high school squad includes (from left) Pierce Armstrong, Slater Fleck, Jonah Kirkham and Ozzi Doherty.

NAPILI — The determination and perseverance of long distance runners is exemplified in the Maui Preparatory Academy cross country program, as the independent school in Napili competes in a club schedule organized by the Valley Isle Track Club and sanctioned by USA Track and Field.

Four competitions are on the schedule through the month of February under the direction of organizer Jesse Henderson.

The first race was held at Seabury Hall on Feb. 6, the second at Maui Prep on the 13th, and the final two events will take place in Makawao.

The Maui Prep team, running as the Pueo Athletic Club and coached by Roby Lloyd at the high school level and led by Sandy Henry for the middle school roster, had continued to train through the fall without any official races.

Disappointment loomed, as the high school team was made up of four-year student-athletes that were geared up to make a run at a D-II Maui Interscholastic League championship.

The VITC stepped up with USA Track and Field to organize the club schedule that enabled independent schools to compete in their sanctioned competitions.

In the first meet at Seabury, Ozzi Doherty took first place with a time of 18:38, Jonah Kirkham was third (19:25), Slater Fleck came in seventh (21:02) and freshman Pierce Armstrong finished strong in eighth place (21:11).

In the middle school two-mile event at Seabury, Pueo competitors included Noah Caiserman in fourth place, Cameron Henry in sixth and Gage Thomas finishing in tenth place.

Maui Prep’s Middle School roster also included Jack Leone and Lola Doherty.

The Pueo high school competitors are all multi-sport student-athletes with Ozzi Doherty on the surfing, basketball and track teams; Kirkham competing on the swimming and track programs as an avid triathlete; and Fleck a MIL surfing champion as well as a swim team competitor.

These club meets were held under strict COVID-19 protocols, including a limit of 100 attendees (including race volunteers) and 30 runners per event.

Multiple races are run at each meet to ensure that the numbers are low and runners are spread out.

Masks are required at all times except for competitors during a race. Masks are replaced immediately after the races are finished.

Starting lines are spread out, courses are wider at 12 feet wide, and everyone must go through COVID-19 screening (including temperature checks) to participate.

The final two events of the schedule include this Saturday’s race (Feb. 27) and the final competition on March 6 in Makawao.