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Molokai Hosts First-Ever Cross Country MIL Championship

For the first time in the history of the Molokai High School Cross Country team, the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) Championship race was held on Molokai, bringing schools from around Maui County to compete on the Farmers’ home turf. More than 150 athletes representing nine schools ran the three-mile course at Ironwood Hills Golf Course, with Seabury Hall taking the girls team crown, while Lahainaluna boys won first place for team score.


Molokai’s Luke Kikukawa, front row fourth from left, was one of 25 boys at the MIL cross country championship held on Molokai Saturday to earn a place in the state race. Photo by Catherine Cluett.

Results from the MIL championship event also determine who qualifies to compete in the state meet this weekend — and Molokai’s Luke Kikukawa will be one of those running.

Hosting the event was not only historic for Molokai, but allowed off-island students, coaches and their families the chance to visit Molokai and support local economy. It was also a chance for Molokai residents to watch some of Hawaii’s best high school athletes first-hand.

“It was a good opportunity for our island to see the top runners in the state,” said MHS boys cross country coach Gandharva Ross.

One of those is Dakota Grossman, the now four-time MIL champion runner from Seabury, who many predict may even have a shot at the Olympics.

Her father and Seabury girls cross country coach Bobby Grossman said the Molokai trip afforded his team the opportunity to visit Molokai and see some of its sights — a first for many of the girls.

“What other place in the country would you get to run in a place like this?” he asked, looking out at the view of Molokai’s north coastline as seen from Ironwood. “We had a really good time here… and a great race today.”

He said while the Molokai course is very hilly and rough in places, he was proud of the girls’ performance.

“Overall it was an exciting day just to have an event here,” said Molokai girls coach Eugene Santiago. “A lot of the Maui schools were appreciative to be able to come.”

While cross country races are usually held at the larger schools on Maui, Ross said a new rotating cycle for hosting meets now includes Molokai, Lanai and Hana. He said while there were some challenges to get housing and transportation for all the teams, he agreed the event garnered positive feedback from Maui coaches.

“It was new exposure for our community to see this type of talent,” said MHS Principal Stan Hao. “Maybe kids can aspire to something like this… and it’s good exposure for the whole community for healthy [activities like running.]”

The Molokai boys’ team finished the MIL championship meet in fifth place, while the girls closed in eighth place. Top three Farmer finishers were Luke Kikukawa, Keaoalono Ross and Grayson Aldridge on the boys’ side, and Coral Lopez-Kapuni, Krisitin Tancayo and Barbara Ludgate for the girls.


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