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Sea Warriors work past injuries, looking to success

by Baxter Cepeda, Sports editor

 

HPU’s men and women’s cross country programs have dominated the islands so far this season. The men have won five of the six regular season events, while the women have taken three of six. Former HPU runner Vien Schwinn, third-year head coach to both programs, is enjoying the success, but the short and long term goals for her program are changing as regionals and nationals loom in the near future.

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In the short term, Schwinn is not looking past the next meet for her national championship contenders. “We’re not thinking of nationals; we can’t go to nationals if we don’t do well at the regionals,” she said. “One race at a time.” Regionals are on Nov. 9.

Schwinn is paying particular attention to the short term because many of her runners are being struck with illnesses common to cross country. “We’re just worried about sicknesses right now, because everybody’s immune system is quite low,” the coach said. “They’ve been training hard.”

Partly because the Sea Warriors are on an intense workout regime, including running almost every day, lifting weights, and racing almost every Saturday, viruses and injuries have been a problem this season. “Running takes a lot out of the body. So, we’ll see who is going to survive.”

Some of the injuries and illnesses faced by the women this season include sophomore Sayuri Kusutani’s hip problems, junior Amanda Crowe’s hamstring, and junior Nina Christensen’s pneumonia. Christensen ran sick and still had two overall first-place finishes and two seconds to Kusutani in the six events. For the men, in early October junior Samual Macharia came down with influenza and freshman Herald Buerkle developed an ankle problem “but he’s not letting that bother him,” said Schwinn.

“I think all of them, whether they are sick or injured, they’re not going to show it. I mean, these are die-hard runners. They hide it very well,” the coach added, laughing, “until it’s over.”

Schwinn cut intensity and mileage for those who needed it, and, she now says, injuries and illnesses are, for the most part, in the past.

Senior Christian Madsen and Christensen have a chance to win individual titles for men and women at nationals. Abdeslam Naji and Kusutani have outside shots as well. But that is not the coach’s main concern. “We are not looking at individuals, we are looking at the team itself,” said Schwinn. “I think this year is one of the best for both teams.”

To do well at the big meets, five solid runners are needed and Schwinn thinks she has that. “I think we have a solid five for men,” said Schwinn. “For the ladies, we have the top three, and the fourth person is peaking at the right time.” She added that any of four runners can be the fifth person.

 

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