The 2021 Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam cross-country season is barely a week old, and the St. John’s School Knights are, well, off to the races.

In Thursday’s duel meet at Two Lovers' Point, the Knights boys and girls teams defeated the Father Duenas Memorial School Friars and Academy of Our Lady of Guam Cougars. In the boys competition, St. John’s defeated the Friars 16-43. In the girls race, the Knights ran away with the victory, 17-38.

With the wins, both St. John’s teams improved to 2-0. With the losses, the Friars and Cougars, 0-2, are still searching for their first wins.

In individual competition, for the second meet in a row, St. John’s Alex Clark and Jordan Baden crossed the finish line in first place. Clark, in 19 minutes, 40 seconds, was declared the winner. Baden, in 21:08.0, was the meet’s fastest female.

“The weather was great today, so I was actually able to push pretty hard,” said Baden, remembering last year’s All-Island meet where she succumbed to the weather and was not able to finish.

But with a full St. John's roster, a luxury Baden didn’t have last season - several student-athletes elected not to participate last year due to the pandemic - she is optimistic for the rest of the season.

“This time, I have teammates with me. Last season, I had no teammates to help push me. But this season, Timothy Hutapea and Jacob Jackson have pushed me, and I think that has helped my time a lot,” Baden said.

With the second-place finisher, Maeva Conroy, 4:11 off Baden’s pace, and although the faster guys motivate her to increase her kick, she wouldn’t mind another female stepping up to challenge her.

“If a female was there to push me, I definitely would be motivated to win,” Baden said.

Alex Clark sprints past finish line

As Alex Clark sprinted through the finish line, 44 seconds faster than teammate Adam Cruz, the second-place finisher, he checked his time and walked over to his coach. Although his time was the day’s fastest, he knows he is going to have to improve if he wants to defend his All-Island championship.

“I’d like to try and make first this year, again, overall, at All-Island,” Clark said. “I’ve seen that Guam High - it looks like their top runner has been training hard.”

“I think I should have been able to go faster,” he said. … “The FD runners were challenging."

Bubba brings it

For sophomore Bubba Sullivan, a jiujitsu practitioner who switched to cross-country near the start of the pandemic because of social distancing mandates, at 22:05.0, his time was the Knights’ fifth fastest, sixth overall. Coming into the season, his goal was to finish strong and shave time off his personal best.

“My goal was to get fourth place for the boys, but I missed that by one, thanks to my teammate,” said Sullivan, who, by one second, had posted a new personal record.

Last season, when Sullivan posted his best time, it was on FD’s course, which was slightly shorter than the Two Lovers' venue. Having run farther and in less time, he was proud of his accomplishment.

Sullivan said that to see that his time had improved by a whole second on a longer course was satisfying.

“That felt great,” he said.

“We have that teamwork where we just work together really well, and we push each other every day to do our best,” he added.