For the fourth straight year, Agape Christian School runners topped the Northern Marianas Athletics Annual Christmas Island Relay.
The Torchbearers’ William Chen, Kobe Yang, Peter Wang, Jonathan Xiong, and Arthur Liang completed the 13.7-mile race from Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio to the Last Command Post in Marpi at the 1:23:35 mark to rule the 37th edition of NMA’s season-ending event held last Saturday. The Agape A runners also posted the school’s fastest time in the competition and the best in the last 10 years of the event (the race record is under the 1:20:00 mark), according to NMA secretary general Robin Sapong.
Agape A eclipsed the 1:26:30 Chen, Wang, Xiong, Leo Li, and David Cai registered in Agape’s 2017 victory. In 2016, the quartet of Jason Wang, Caleb Wang, Allan Zhao, Henry Xiong, and Hu En Ze recorded the winning time of 1:27:42, while the group of Agape runners who started the Torchbearers’ streak in the island relay logged 1:29:42 in 2015.
“Every year, our goal is to break our record in the previous race. That’s the challenge to all Agape runners,” said Chen, who joined the island relay for the third consecutive year and won back-to-back in the open division category. “We also train at least three weeks before the race so we are in good shape.”
“Most of us who did the race for the first time were kind of nervous, so we were a bit slow. But, the moment we learned how to pace ourselves, we are able to adjust and get better times,” he added.
Chen and company led from start to finish, reaching the Last Command Post nearly three minutes ahead of Team Yutu. Eleina Santos, Bailey Spaeth, Ketson “Jack” Kabiriel, Whit Altizer, and Keith Longuski made up Team Yutu and they clocked in at 1:26:10 to settle for the runner-up honors in the open division. Agape B rounded out the Top 3 in the open category after checking in at 1:34:21, while Agape C recorded 1:35:52 to lord it over in the youth division. Easton Tang, Ray Qi, Elizabeth Xu, Simon Shan, and Caleb Dai suited up for Agape C.
Other finishers in the team event were Robin Hoods (1:37:43), Tamio Club (1:39:49), Agape D (1:41:55), Hoopaholics (1:51:32), Team SPC (1:52:12), and TRAC Team 1 (1:54:45).
In the individual race, Anthony Fruit was the overall finisher after making it to the Last Command Post at the 1:47:24 mark, while Kaylee Heath and Heather Kennedy tallied 1:48.46 and 1:54:29, respectively, to round out the Top 3.