PUKALANI - James Pearson applied a lesson from the book of Dakota Grossman: Thou shalt not pass.
Pearson, a Baldwin High School senior, won his first Maui Interscholastic League cross country title Saturday morning at Kamehameha Maui about half an hour after Grossman, a Seabury Hall junior, earned her third.
While Grossman enjoyed her usual lonely stroll - she ran a personal-best 3-mile time of 18 minutes, 48 seconds to beat teammate Kiana Smith by 1:24 - Pearson had to hold off hard-charging Brenden Heitzman of Seabury Hall, winning by a couple of strides.
James Pearson of Baldwin High School wins a duel to the finish line with Seabury Hall's Brenden Heitzman to win the Maui Interscholastic League championship Saturday morning in Pukalani.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The MIL girls championship gets under way — Seabury Hall’s Dakota Grossman won for the third straight year
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Spartans swept the team titles, snapping Maui High's string of four consecutive boys crowns and taking the girls championship for the seventh year in a row.
Pearson finished in 16:41 - two seconds in front of Heitzman, who broke the stranglehold that Pearson, Cody McCorriston of Maui High and Corban Kaikkonen of Lahai-naluna had on the top three spots all season.
"No, not at all, I did not expect him to be that tough," Pearson said of Heitzman. "He came up and I said, 'He's not Cody, he's not Corban.' Then I heard his name, and I was, like, 'Oh?' I was surprised."
MIl Cross Country Championships
Saturday's team scores
At Kamehameha Maui
Girls-1. Seabury Hall 22, 2. Baldwin 47, 3. King Kekaulike 68, 4. Maui High 95, 5. Molokai 151.
Boys-1. Seabury Hall 33, 2. Maui High 69, 3. Baldwin 72, 4. Kamehameha Maui 92, 5. Maui Prep 121, 6. Molokai 133, 7. Lanai 173.
Individual results see story.
Pearson battled Heitzman for the lead for about the last half of the race, but was confident about ending up on top.
"It just makes it even more special that it happened like that," Pearson said. "It happened so fast, but it was exciting. It's hard to explain, even though I just experienced it."
Pearson opened up a slight lead in the final mile and said he felt he was safe until the last quarter-mile or so, entering Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
"I hear him closing in, right there near the path (into the stadium)," Pearson said. "Then on the last hill with about 150 (meters) to go, he was right on my back and I was just fighting myself, 'Is he going to pass me? Do I have anything left?' At the end, I just tried to cancel it all out and just go."
Heitzman, fifth in last year's MIL championship, admitted he surprised himself.
"A little bit," he said. "This is the kind of pressure the team trains for, though, so I think we were ready. James was tough today. I kept on trying to stick with him and eventually I kind of had to take a break and gather my energy. I just had to keep on going, like the Energizer Bunny."
Heitzman led five Spartans in the top 10 of team runners as they easily outdistanced the Sabers, the state runners-up last season, 33-69.
"Brenden is the epitome of just running with heart, and training, and never giving up," Seabury coach Bill Frampton said. "And we've talked the whole season as each race is a steppingstone and I have told them, 'This is the race that you finally get to put all that together.' Brenden did."
Grossman and her teammates were even more impressive, totaling 22 points. Baldwin was second with 47.
While Grossman will try to become just the fifth Hawaii boy or girl to win three state cross country individual titles on Friday at Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island, the Spartans have a team title in mind in the first-ever Division II chase. The school's only girls state team title came in the 1990 cross country meet.
"We have a couple seniors and we wanted them to leave with a win," Grossman said. "We are going for that Division II state title. It would be a big challenge and it would be really cool if we did."
All the runners will be in the same race at the state meet, and Grossman can put herself in position to join Punahou's Eri Macdonald (1995-98) as the only four-time state cross country champion. Grossman's time Saturday is 39.5 seconds faster her state performance last year, and 37.5 seconds faster than she ran two years ago.
"My dad (and coach Bobby Grossman) told me to go under 19 today," Grossman said. "We think this course was the right distance and it was the first time I was able to have a good race. I just went out and did it. This gives me some confidence because it is not like I was running that well this season. My times weren't as fast as I wanted them to be, so this helps me go into state with a good time."
Seabury was fifth in the state team standings last year.
"It has been on minds since we heard about it," Smith, returning from hip and ankle injuries, said of the D-II possibilities. "I think we can do it. It is going to take a lot of hard work and focus, but I think we can do it."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
MIL Cross Country Championships
At Kamehameha Maui
Boys-1. James Pearson, Baldwin, 16:41; 2. Brenden Heitzman, Seabury Hall, 16:43; 3. Akona Adolpho, Molokai, 17:09; 4. Corban Kaikkonen, Lahainaluna, 17:15; 5. Cody McCorriston, Maui High, 17:27; 6. Nic Colon, Seabury Hall, 17:30; 7. Devin Vandervoort, Maui High, 17:39; 8. Duncan Harrison, Seabury Hall, 18:03; 9. Xavier Damo, Maui Prep, 18:09; 10. Alden Simmer, Seabury Hall, 18:10; 11. Miles Malot, Seabury Hall, 18:11; 12. Ikaika Renaoud, Kamehameha Maui, 18:13; 13. Matthew Foronda, Baldwin, 18:18; 14. Jarrett Jackson, Maui High, 18:19; 15. Daniel Quenga, Kamehameha Maui, 18:26; 16. Wyatt Chism, Lahainaluna, 18:43; 17. Alek Paet, Baldwin, 18:51; 18. Avinash Singh, Kamehameha Maui, 18:56; 19. Gerald Maeda, St. Anthony, 18:57; 20. Caleb Bermudez, Maui Prep, 19:03; 21. Dallas Del Rosario, Lanai, 19:04; 22. Greyson Aldridge, Molokai, 19:05; 23. Jeremy Sanchez, Maui High, 19:12; 24. Reggie Lo, Baldwin, 19:13; 25. Keoni Frampton, Kamehameha Maui, 19:14; 26. Aundre Paet, Baldwin, 19:17; 27. Tyler Kiyota, Seabury Hall, 19:29; 28. Chris Kawaguchi, Baldwin, 19:33; 29. Jasper Quiocho, Maui High, 19:39; 30. Taylor Fourie, Seabury Hall, 19:41; 31. Santana Huck, Maui Prep, 19:47; 32. Jesse Amaral, Kamehameha Maui, 19:51; 33. Kieran Clark, Maui Prep, 19:56; 34. Dayson Damuni, Kamehameha Maui, 19:57; 35. Kelly Griffith IV, Maui High, 19:58; 36. Jay Ryan Ballesteros, Lanai, 20:02; 37. Luke Kikukawa, Molokai, 20:04; 38. Kevin Tan, Lanai, 20:12; 39. Kiernan Mateo, Baldwin, 20:13; 40. Tanner Mosher, Molokai, 20:15; 41. Richard Sargent, Maui Prep, 20:22; 42. Sam Sutton, Maui High, 20:23; 43. Kaunoa Helekahi-Cass, Hana, 20:24; 44. Jojo Chism, Lahainaluna, 20:25; 45. Keaoalono Ross, Molokai, 20:26; 46. Justin Fernandez, Kamehameha Maui, 20:28; 47. Nathan Samonte, Lanai, 20:50; 48. Slater Trout, Maui Prep, 21:10; 49. Sonny Balbas, Molokai, 21:21; 50. Ezekiel Bolo, Lanai, 21:50; 51. Parker Robb, Maui Prep, 21:52; 52. Robery Debrum, Lanai, 21:59; 53. Bowe Ebding, Lanai, 24:31; 54. Rusty Nakayama, Molokai, 27:50.
Girls-1. Dakota Grossman, Seabury Hall, 18:48; 2. Kiana Smith, Seabury Hall, 20:12; 3. Nikki Musto, King Kekaulike, 20:38; 4. Ellie Bio, Baldwin, 20:52; 5. Ally Smith, Seabury Hall, 21:23; 6. Christy Fell, Seabury Hall, 21:37; 7. Sage Saito, Baldwin, 21:38; 8. Lia Matsunaga, Seabury Hall, 21:40; 9. Erin Murashige, Baldwin, 21:44; 10. Jenna Loesberg, Seabury Hall, 22:00; 11. Kerry Donohue, Baldwin, 22:02; 12. Tiera Arakawa, King Kekaulike, 22:22; 13. Tiffany Keau, Maui High, 22:27; 14. Danielle Jeffries, Maui Prep, 22:38; 15. Rebekah Hallsten, St. Anthony, 22:44; 16. Tanitia Imonti, King Kekaulike, 22:49; 17. Makena Robinson, King Kekaulike, 22:51; 18. Rayce Tamanaha, Baldwin, 22:57; 19. Rachel Smith, Kamehameha Maui, 23:09; 20. Natalie Rothman, Seabury Hall, 23:10; 21. Annette Kinchiro, Baldwin, 23:13; 22. Tatiana Figuerres, Lanai, 23:14; 23. Michelle Gima, Maui High, 23:16; 24. Catherine Quino, Maui High, 23:17; 25. Briana Berdel, Maui High, 23:18; 26. Genica Aban, Maui High, 23:20; 27. Makena Tardville, Maui High, 23:32; 28. Stephanie Lawless, Lahainaluna, 23:59; 29. Tiare Matsuura, King Kekaulike, 24:15; 30. Kailey Sager, Lahainaluna, 24:18; 31. Zoe Eto, Baldwin, 24:28; 32. Jessica Mendiola, Kamehameha Maui, 24:30; 33. Tiana Bala, Lanai, 24:43; 34. Shantel Longboy, Maui High, 25:06; 35. Victoria Alakai, Kamehameha Maui, 25:12; 36. Kristin Tancayo, Molokai, 26:03; 37. Kristin Gilchrist, Lahainaluna, 26:09; 38. Leimana Hassett, Kamehameha Maui, 26:30; 39. Traci Ige, Lanai, 27:12; 40. Alexandria Simon, Molokai, 27:34; 41. Kayla Hackett, King Kekaulike, 28:33; 42. Quoya Vasquez, Hana, 28:37; 43. Alex Gilliand, Molokai, 28:39; 44. Eryn Pendergast, Lahainaluna, 28:45; 45. Genesis Gil, King Kekaulike, 29:05; 46. Diana Naihe, Hana, 29:12; 47. Katelyn Emia, Molokai, 29:13; 48. Geisha Nunez, Molokai, 29:15; 49. Kori-Lee Derouin, Molokai, 30:04; 50. Cendall Manley, Molokai, 30:05.