As soon as race official Richard Taitague said “Come on”, Hugh Kent of the John F. Kennedy High School Islanders raced to the front of the pack and never looked back.
At a Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Athletic Association triple cross-country meet Wednesday that featured the Islanders, Okkodo High School Bulldogs and George Washington High School Geckos, Kent completed the George Washington High course, a 4.62 kilometer courage tester, in 16 minutes, 4 seconds. Kent, the two-time defending All-Island champion, finished 1:27 faster than teammate Isaac Valdez, who earned second place on the podium.
“I’m pretty happy with my time,” Kent said. “The weather, it’s the best it’s been in a while. It’s the best weather we’ve ever had, so I felt really good today, really light. And I just got to carry on. .”
Regardless of the extreme heat in the race and knowing what his body is capable of, Kent ditched a conservative game plan and went for it.
“Usually on a hot day I can try to start and get ahead of the pack and then ease into a pace and then gradually increase it because I don’t want to overheat and then die completely towards the end. “But today, how cool, I knew I could keep a fast pace.”
After two more Islanders took third and fourth place, Kaito Sakaguchi at 5:35 p.m. and Ivan Aguilar at 6:05 p.m., a Bulldog and a Gecko broke JFK’s sweep. In fifth place, Okkodo’s Jone Gimoto finished the race in 18:26. Fifteen seconds behind Gimoto, in 18:41, GW’s Aiden Uncangco was fifth. Securing the victory for the Islanders, Evan Tydingco finished in 19:09.
“We are lucky to have these athletes,” Kent said. “Also our coach is able to bring us together and make sure we all try to stick together, especially in our own groups. The first four people, we train together as a group, so we manage to motivate each other.
With the season being exactly halfway, Kent only racked up top spots. Untested by others and since each course is radically different, its purpose is to save time.
“I just want to go faster and faster,” he said.
Last summer, Kent competed with Team Guam at the 2022 Pacific Mini Games in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the 2022 Oceania Athletics Championships in Australia. After these regional and world-class events, Kent realized he was a big fish on a small island. His motivation to compete comes from the fact that there are many faster runners than him.
“The competition is just outside of the Guam league,” he said. “Just knowing that even though I’m the best here, everywhere else, I’m all the way down – second to none. It motivates me to go faster, so I’m not just fast here. I want to be fast everywhere.
In a one-on-one tag team competition, the Islanders defeated the Geckos 16-44 and eclipsed the Bulldogs 16-47. The Geckos, with a strong performance, defeated the Bulldogs 20-43.
In the girls’ most competitive races of the day, GW’s Robin Cruz crossed the finish line in first place, 23 seconds faster than second-placed Patricia Miclat of the Islanders. In third place, Rhylaieh Taitano of Geckos posted 22:51. The other three finishers were all islanders – Gabriella Gogue, in 23:05, Annika Miclat, in 24:11, and Mary Namirembe, in 26:11. Madison Leon Guerrero, the Geckos’ third woman to cross the finish line, posted a respectable time of 26:22. Securing the Islanders’ double victory, Ava Garcia posted 27:18.
In ideal race conditions, no wind, no rain but dense cloud cover, 17-year-old Cruz rode the course in a blitz. Despite placing first, which she has done in every race this season, she told the Post she was not happy with her results.
“I’m not happy,” she said, despite setting a new personal best, 23 seconds faster than her previous record. “It’s just another goal I have to beat.”
She added that her teammates in front of her motivate her to finish first.
In a one-on-one tag team competition, the Islanders defeated the Geckos 25-32 and earned a 15-48 win over the Bulldogs. The Geckos, in the other team competition, beat Okkodo 17-40.