SAIPAN International School and Marianas High School claimed the high school championship titles in the girls and boys divisions of the Northern Marianas Athletics-Public School System All School Cross Country Series on Saturday at the Saipan Country Club.
The ever-dominant SIS girls won the championship with a perfect score of 10 points.
Saturday’s 5K course included turns and mud puddles, but that did not prevent SIS' top runner Kaithlyn Chavez from doing what she does best — running.
She finished first in the girls division with a time of 22.16 to earn 1 point, the highest individual score.
Teammate Tiana Cabrera crossed the finish line at 24.21 for 2 points and was followed by two other Geckos: Serin Chung at 27.08 for 3 points and Savita Sikkel at 27.10 for 4 points.
For their part, SIS runners Stephanie Kim (30.42) and Audrey Castro (32.37) took fifth and sixth places.
Chavez won the gold medal, Cabrera received the silver medal and Chung was awarded the bronze medal.
In an interview, Chavez said, “It wasn't my best run. [The course] was actually different but I wasn't surprised. I knew it was going to be harder and muddier.”
In second place in the team standings was Marianas High School with a total of 35 points. Allyssya Castro led the MHS pack with a time of 33.48 followed by Rizza Relucio at 33.57, Tyana Kilileman Hix at 34.47, and Julia Casuncad at 35.46.
In third place was Saipan Southern High School with a score of 52 points. Megan Elayda clocked at 34.48; Lency Sagarino, 36.04; and Andrea Ramos, 36.54.
In the boys division, Marianas High School took the spotlight with a total of 14 points.
MHS’ Dev Bachani ruled the scene with a time of 20.35 to earn 1 point.
In second place was MHS' Cody Shimizu at 20.49 for 2 points while fellow Dolphins Anthony Bergancia and Marques Dame finished fifth and sixth places at 21.55.83 and 21.55.33 to contribute 5 and 6 points, respectively.
“The course was longer and the hills were harder,” Bachani said. “It was also muddy which made it hard to turn, but other than that it was good.”
In second place in the team standings was Saipan International School with 36 points. Rex Pixley finished third with a time of 20.51; Kuu Nishimura clocked at 23.16.70; Sam Culp, 24.21.57; and Jesse Sablan, 24.37.
Finishing third in the team standings was Saipan Southern High School with 57 points. Its top four runners were John Raquepo with a time of 26.45; Monico Claridades, 24.02; Simon Tang, 26.59; and Vince Guilas, 28.16.
Bachani won the gold medal; Shimizu received the silver medal; and Pixley took the bronze medal.
“We were amazed by the turnout this year,” meet director Dr. Ron Snyder said. “We had 255 registered athletes for the championships and, in the end, 230 runners from Saipan, Tinian and Rota competed for the prizes.”
He added, “In the meets leading up to the championships, we had more than 400 runners participating. So, overall, this was a resounding success for cross country.”
Snyder would also like to recognize Saipan International School, Run Saipan and Kagman High School for hosting three meets.
“As we develop the sport further, I hope we will see other schools step up and host meets, giving our athletes varied and extensive opportunities to compete in cross country,” he said.
“For the championships, I would like to thank the many coaches, spectators, volunteers, sponsors and, especially, the athletes for helping to make this meet an example of excellent sportsmanship and teamwork.
“Additionally, I would like to thank Saipan Vegas for allowing us to use its golf course — what a beautiful and challenging course it was! And thank you Marianas Visitors Authority for their donation of race clock and tents. Finally a huge shout out to PSS and NMA for their partnership in delivering one of the largest school sporting events in the CNMI. It is through strong partnerships like these that we will grow our sports programs to encourage physical activity, build discipline, a sense of persistence, develop a strong sense of community and teamwork, and reach higher levels of achievement for our students and athletes in the Commonwealth in general. This was cross country at its finest!"