The Maui News 2013 MIL Cross Country All-Stars

For Seabury Hall’s Dakota Grossman, it was just another year of accomplishments, but for Lahainaluna’s Willem Thorbecke, it was a memorable first.

Grossman ends her cross country career perfect – four Maui Interscholastic League titles and four state championship crowns – and is The Maui News MIL Girls Runner of the Year for the fourth time.

She is the second athlete – male or female – to win four state cross country titles. Punahou’s Eri Macdonald (1995-1998) accomplished the feat on a two-mile course. The girls course is now three miles.

Grossman helped lead the Spartans to a second consecutive state Division II team championship.

“I’m definitely sad it’s over, but I’m proud of reaching my goals and I feel I ended the season very successful and the team was very successful,” Grossman said. “I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

Thorbecke, a junior, claimed the boys honor after winning the league title and finishing 11th at the state meet.

Thorbecke’s effort helped the Lunas capture their first MIL team title since 1990.

“It was a fun season. It was very hot and I got sunburnt a lot,” he said. “I thought our team was very strong and we had a lot of dedicated runners that helped bolster the team.”

Grossman has the most individual state gold medals in MIL history – four in cross country and four in track and field.

At the beginning of the season, Thorbecke was an unknown transfer student from Tokyo.

“For us it was just a surprise to have a junior come along and be at the top of the league; the cream of the crop,” Lahainaluna coach Dan Skousen said.

Thorbecke and senior teammate Corban Kaikkonen finished 1-2 in a majority of the league meets.

“If it weren’t for Corban I wouldn’t have had a great season like I did,” Thorbecke said.

Skousen credited Thorbecke for pushing the team, which had five runners finish in the top eight at the MIL championships.

Skousen, who also coaches the Lunas girls team, said he would have Kaikkonen train on his own and help his teammates in years past.

“Willem definitely gave Corban a lot of motivation to work harder,” Skousen said. “In fact, right now he’s playing basketball and Corban is training for track so we’ll see if Corban can one-up Willem during track season.”

Thorbecke and Kaikkonen are joined on the boys All-Star team by teammates Wyatt Chism, Kevin Lammer, Nicolas Vierra and Kyle Shultz, Seabury’s Nicolas Colon, Paxton Malek and Quinn Jones and Kamehameha Maui’s Paytin Ayau.

Grossman is joined on the girls All-Star team by Spartans teammates Ally Smith, Ava Shipman, Kiana Smith and Christy Fell, Baldwin’s Sage Saito and Erin Murashige, Maui High’s Briana Yamamoto, Maui Prep’s Sophia Johnston and King Kekaulike’s Nikki Musto.

Grossman has been pushing her teammates equally as hard and remembers making a vow with her teammates two years ago.

“We talked about possibly winning the D-II state title and when we did the goal after that was to win it every year (after),” she said.

Grossman’s father and coach, Bobby Grossman, said there was much anticipation and excitement to start the season. The pressure built up until the state championship meet on Kauai.

“That last race for her was probably the most nervous she’s been,” Bobby Grossman said. “It wasn’t nerve racking until she got there, but getting those four titles” were great for her.

Grossman has been busy this year, running in Hawaii and on the Mainland to increase her chances of receiving an athletic scholarship for college.

She said she now has her sights on the spring track and field season.

“I really want to win a track team title for my last year,” Grossman said. “It’s kind of been our goal and we’re so close, so I’d really like to get that team title.”

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at