ACS: We shall return!

COVID, car trouble stymy Agape runners in Christmas Island Relay
Posted on Dec 22 2021
Northern Marianas Athletics’ Annual Christmas Island Relay awards ceremony

Andrei Kaithlyn Chavez of Team Santa, middle, accepts all her teammates’ gold medals in the awards ceremony for Northern Marianas Athletics’ Annual Christmas Island Relay last Monday at the Oleai Track and field. At left is silver medal-winning Agape Team B and right is Saipan Swim Club, which won the bronze. (MAKR RABAGO)

Now it can be told. Agape Christian School fell short in winning a seventh straight championship in the open division of last Saturday’s Northern Marianas Athletics’ Annual Christmas Island Relay after its best runners were sidelined by COVID-19.

ACS pastor Kok H. Pang said the school had an outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this month and it forced many of their runners to quarantine at the Kanoa Resort Alternate Care Site beginning last Dec. 8.

“Our best runners were quarantined at Kanoa Resort. So only Eason [Tang] was OK. The rest were negative but they’re not well. Dec. 8 they started quarantining and they weren’t able to train because they couldn’t come out. So, we only sent our second and third best team to compete,” he said before the Annual Christmas Island Relay medal awards ceremony Monday at the Oleai Track and Field.

Pang said not being able to take part in the yearend activity of NMA were Samuel Hu, Caleb Dai, Peter Hu, and Caleb Cui. Agape Team A led by Tang and made up of last-minute replacements eventually finished fourth overall in the category with a time of 1:35:25.

He said three boys who ran were sick too as Abraham Zhu had diarrhea twice during the race. Tang and Jason Cao also had runny nose and cough.

“Our open team was a depleted team. They couldn’t join because they’re all in quarantine. By the time they’re released from quarantine at 9am Saturday, the Island Relay was already finished at the Last Command Post. We wanted to defend [the Christmas Islands Relay title], but the thing is our best runners except for Eason couldn’t make it,” he said.

In the case of the Agape Team B that competed in the youth division, Pang explained that a battery malfunction in the school’s van that was used to drive the runners from one tagging point to the other slowed them down.

“The youth were leading but finished second because the Sienna somehow had battery problems around the Lower Base area. So one runner had to run 2 miles as he couldn’t find the others,” he said.

Before car troubles torpedoed their quest to at least salvage a victory in the 18-and-under division, Pang said Hudson Tan, Allen Luo, Peter Peng, Joseph Li, and Peter Yang were leading the pack. They wound up second in a time of 1:44:12.

Abraham Zhu of Agape Team A

Abraham Zhu of Agape Team A is about to cross the finish line of Northern Marianas Athletics’ Annual Christmas Island Relay last Saturday at the Last Command Post in Marpi. (MARK RABAGO)

“Next year… It’s OK, we didn’t win because of unforeseen circumstances. We shall return!” vowed Pang while echoing Gen. Douglas McArthur’s famous promise from World War II.

Pang said youth runners who weren’t able to run were John Chen, Eunice Xu, Emma Pang, and Ruffy Cai.

For the record, Team Santa made up of soccer players Andrei Kaithlyn Chavez, Dev Ashok Bachani, Cody Shimizu, Anthony Bergancia, and Markus Toves won the youth division with a time of 1:31:04. Third place went to Saipan Swim Club with a time of 1:47:23.

The Dr. Lily Muldoon-skippered Baby Got Track, meanwhile, topped the open division of the 13.7 mile-long race from the Pacific Islands Club Saipan in San Antonio to the Last Command Post in Marpi. The team, also made up of Dixie Mendenhall, Michael Denevan, Kate Wilson, and Ali Nelson, crossed the finish line of 1:29:15. Both Run Saipan teams—Team A and Team B—finished second and third with times of 1:33:13 and 1:33:56, respectively.

In the awards ceremony last Monday, gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to the winning teams in both divisions with the runners themselves picking up their medals at a central table as NMA strictly enforced guidelines set not only by the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force but World Athletics itself.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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