Gaines, Cheramie lead the way for virtual cross country titles

Kubasaki and Kadena boys runners come off the start line during the Far East cross country meet qualifier on Nov. 21. Kadena junior Joe Renquist, third from right, won that meet and posted the fastest boys Division I time of 17 minutes, 31.5 seconds.


By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 14, 2021

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Whether they run the Far East meet in person or virtually, E.J. King’s cross country team continues to produce champion boys runners.

For the second straight year, a Cobra won the boys Division II title. Freshman Tyler Gaines clocked 16 minutes, 59 seconds to capture the D-II title and post the best overall time in a Far East meet that was run virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gaines followed L.J. Scarver, who won in 2019.

“I knew he was special when we started training him,” King athletics director Ricky Andrew said of Gaines, adding that he challenged him to do what Scarver did. “He is a great young runner with a super work ethic. Great young man.”

Under the Far East virtual format enacted for this year, each school ran on regulation 400-meter tracks, seven boys and seven girls each, five runners scoring and the others pushing for a total of 12½ laps.

Schools that did not have a regulation track ran on similar surfaces approved by DODEA-Pacific. Schools ran their qualifiers between Nov. 21 and Dec. 12, then turned those times in to DODEA-Pacific, which announced the results Tuesday.

As a King runner made it back-to-back boys D-II titles, so, too, did a Yokota girls runner win D-II for the second straight year: Sophomore Reagan Cheramie, who clocked 19:10 to win her division and posted the fastest girls time overall.

Cheramie led four Panthers girls in the top 10, including last year’s Far East champion Aiko Galvin, a junior, as Yokota captured its fourth straight girls D-II team title, outpacing Daegu of Korea 19-43.

“I suspected at the beginning of the season that this would be the best girls team we have ever had,” said Dan Galvin, Aiko’s father and Panthers coach. “This is a very talented and dedicated group of athletes. They really supported and pushed each other.”

While Yokota’s girls reached familiar heights, the boys D-II team title went for the first time to Osan, which had three runners finish in the top 10, led by junior Parker Hendrickson’s 17:21.9. Osan outdistanced Yokota’s boys 34-63.

Cougars coaches Brad and Brenda Helsel “could not be happier about what our kids achieved this season,” Brad Helsel said.

DODEA-Pacific schools only competed with each other and not international schools as they normally do. “But we are thrilled that they had a successful season,” Brad Helsel said.

“It was different,” Kadena sophomore Karise Johnson said. “We were running on a track; it really wasn’t very exciting, not running against other schools. But it was still fun.”

Johnson and the Panthers won everything there was to win on the Division I side, Johnson winning the girls race in 21:02.9 and junior Joe Renquist capturing the boys D-I race in 17:31.5.

Kadena’s boys and girls each won their team titles also by comfortable margins, the Panthers boys 29-54 over defending champion Nile C. Kinnick and Kadena’s girls 25-63 over Guam High.

“It’s been a crazy year,” Kadena coach Abe Summers said. “It just goes to show that even in times of adversity, good things can happen. I’m glad we got to have a season and that our team worked so hard, even with all the uncertainty. They were a great group of runners.”

Twitter: @daveornauer

E.J. King freshman Tyler Gaines won both the boys Division II title and the overall race in DODEA-Pacific's Far East high school cross country meet, held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.