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HPU's fastest person slows down

by Baxter Cepeda, Photo editor

William Ngetich is indisputably Hawaii Pacific University’s fastest person. Or at least he was. Injuries will test his patience this semester.

Ngetich, who finished sixth at the Division II Cross Country Championships last year, stepped on a rock during off-season training and twisted his ankle. The accident will keep him on crutches and out of races until, at least, conference finals Oct. 23.

 

And he’s not sure about that, “but I hope so,” he said.

If he does return for the conference finals, Ngetichalmost certainly will qualify for the West Regional and Nationals. But as the competition gets tougher, Ngetich acknowledged that repeating his feats from last year—which also included winning the West Regional—will not be automatic.

“ This is running,” said the Kenyan with a prototypical distance-runner’s body. “There are no short-cuts in running.”

Ngetich transferred to HPU last spring from Central Methodist College, where he won the National Association of Interscholastic Athletes (NAIA) 5000 meters championship.

“ I was in really good shape coming in here,” Ngetich said. “I had a good season.”

Ngetich’s Nationals place could have been better, he said, but training at low altitude and the lack of competition in the islands set him back. He added that he trained about half as much as most top-cross country runners because he was trying to avoid injuries during his first season running the 10-thousand-meter distance.

The men’s team could have been better last year as well, Ngetich said. But HPU’s number-three runner dropped out of the West Regional with a hamstring injury. That was enough to keep the Sea Warriors out of Nationals.

“ Last year we had a lot of good people,” Ngetich said. With Abdersalam Naji, Chris Larson and Mikkel Klays graduated, HPU expected Ngetich to lead a talented but young team. That will have to wait.

“ Still we have a few guys doing well, so it is not a problem,” Ngetich said. “So far.”

New cross country coach Christian Friis has Harry Burkle and Aaron Norton to lead the team until Ngetich returns.

Ngetich added that transfers Matt Steve and William Culvin “are running really fast.”

“ They are doing the best they can,” Friis said. “Unfortunately it does hurt us a lot.”

Friis was obviously disappointed when he heard his top runner would not be available most of the season. “But that’s what happens in sports, you can be on top of your game one day, and the next day an injury can take you out.”

The positive is that Ngetich is not out for good. In a way he has not even started.

“ I do not think he actually knows himself how good he can be,” Friis said.

“ I don’t know too much about his background, but I think with a longer period of training he would be very good. Very is an understatement.”

The sky may be the limit for Ngetich, but just repeating what he did last year will be hard enough.

“You have to be really good,” he said. “It’s going to be tough.”

 

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