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Cross country gets new coach

by Chris Alcanatara, associate editor

Raul Torres has made a living for years training world-class triathlon competitors, which is one reason why HPU was more than happy to name the Sea Warrior alum the new head coach of the cross country team.

Torres, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, first came to Hawai‘i in 1989 to compete in the Ironman triathlon. He immediately fell in the love with the islands and made them his home.

Torre eventually ended up at HPU and ran for the cross country team from 1993-1994 under Coach Vien Schwinn. He then left HPU to start his own business, Boca Hawai‘i, a shop in Honolulu where athletes come for training, advice, and gear for the grueling races that include running, biking, and swimming.

“ At the beginning of the 2002 season, Coach Schwinn gave me a call and said she could use my help as an assistant coach,” said Torres. “I was very busy at the time, but she convinced me it wouldn’t take up too much time.”

Torres says he doesn’t plan to change a whole lot in the way the team is run, but the way workouts are designed will reflect the style of training that he’s built through the years.

His style has definitely proven effective, not only with HPU, but with Triathlon competitors everywhere.

“ I usually train between 20-75 people for a race at Boca Hawai‘i; we do 10 races a year. It’s great and I have a lot of fun with it,” said Torres.

While the transition from assistant to head coach can be overwhelming, Torres seems to be taking it in stride.

“ There have been a few areas that I needed some help, like paperwork and other little things,” said Torres. “But everyone at HPU has been great with helping me pickup the small stuff, making the transition easy.”

All of the administrative help, as well as the fact that he uses three assistant coaches, has given Torres the ability to focus on what he does best. Fortunately for HPU, he’s doing it better than most, as the 2003 Sea Warrior teams have run away with two consecutive, first- place finishes to start the season.

At the Chaminade Invitational, Sept. 6 at the BYU-Hawai‘i course, the men’s and women’s teams both dominated the competition earning five of the top-10 spots in the race. In a field including UH-Hilo, BYU-H, Chaminade, and Cal State University-Monterey Bay, sophomore sensation William Ngetich, senior team captain Abdelsam Naji, and sophomore Harry Buerkle finish first, second, and third, respectively. Senior Sam Macharia finished seventh, and newcomer sophomore Aaron Norton finished ninth to secure the victory.

The women’s race would end with senior star Nina Christensen returning to form with a second-place finish just behind BYU-H’s Chelsea Smith, and followed by sophomore Rachelle Miller and junior Janine Brown who crossed the finish line in third and fourth, respectively. Junior Heather Postema and sophomore Masako Sagawa weren’t far behind finishing seventh and eighth, giving HPU a low 24 points.

The results were similar a week later at the BYU-H Invitational held again at the BYU-H course, with Ngetich gaining his second victory in a row and Naji coming in second. Norton improved to fourth place and Junior Chris Larson came in sixth, earning the victory with 32 points.
The women’s team had another dominating performance finishing in six of the top 10 positions. Christensen had another close second place finish, followed by Brown (third place), Miller (fourth place), Postema (fifth place), Sagawa (sixth place), and Junior Kendra Byrd coming in eighth place for an amazingly low 20 points for the team.

If this is any sign of things to come for HPU cross country, plan on hearing Torres’ name well into the future.

“ This is a great team, and I got to know most of them last season,” said Torres. “They are a very motivated group and have shown so much improvement already. I feel that helping athletes succeed is just as gratifying as actually racing myself.”



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