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Young runners overcome rain, older foes at Okinawa meet

Kubasaki sophomore Kaelyn Francis grimaces as she makes her way to the finish of the 100-meter dash, flanked by Kadena's April Cabases and Okinawa Christian School's Tia Calvin, during Thursday's first day of the 2nd Oki Relays at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Francis won in 13.24 seconds despite a pulled right quadriceps muscle.

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Ana Hernandez has been one of the faces of Pacific high school cross country and track the last few years. But the future of Okinawa track starred Thursday, with two freshmen scoring upsets of Hernandez on Day 1 of the 2nd Oki Relays.

Kubasaki freshman Zoe Jarvis used a kick lap on the final go-round to overtake Hernandez in the 3,200, winning by just over a second. Hernandez’s freshman teammate Wren Renquist did that one better in the 800, outdistancing Hernandez by nearly nine seconds.

“I don’t believe it,” said Jarvis, in her first year of running cross country and track. She was the Dragons’ first girls finisher in the district cross-country finals in the rain last October.

Thursday’s race was conducted in driving rain and Hernandez, two times a Far East cross country champion, led most of the way, but had Jarvis running on her shoulder the last few laps.

Jarvis then beat Hernandez in a sprint to the tape, Jarvis clocking 12 minutes, 55.44 seconds to Hernandez’s 12:56.56.

“Really tough,” Jarvis said of the slippery conditions, adding that she knew she could overtake Hernandez “at the sprint, when I started running really hard.”

“It was a bad race for me, but Zoe did her job,” Hernandez said. “She ran a smart race.”

“Awesome,” a smiling Kubasaki coach Jon Fick said.

In the 800, Renquist left little to chance, pulling ahead of Hernandez on the back stretch of the first lap and winning going away in 2:37.97. Hernandez clocked 2:46.44.

“It was tough, but I think I did what I could,” Renquist said of the wet Mike Petty Stadium track.

“She really works hard in practice and it shows,” Hernandez said of Renquist. “She’s the future of this track program.”

Only the first event, the girls 3,200, was contested in rain, but the track remained wet the rest of the way, forcing organizers to move the high-jump portion to Friday.

The Oki Relays was first run in April 2011, after the long-established Mike Petty Memorial Meet was canceled by DODDS Pacific in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

One of the charter members of the Mike Petty meet, Morrison Academy of Taiwan, brought 21 athletes to this week’s meet.

As a result of the wet conditions, times were much slower than they were the first two weeks of Okinawa’s season. But Kubasaki’s Rahman Farnell posted his third sub-11-second time in the 100, clocking 10.78. Adjusted for hand reaction, the official time was 11.04.

Farnell ran four events, including the 400 and anchor on the 400 relay and 1,600 relays, taking first in each event. He said he wasn’t particularly thrilled about running 400-meter legs, “but if it’s for the team, then I’ll do it.”

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

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