Cross Country Standout To Join HPU Sports Hall Of Fame

When Kailua native and cross country star Todd Iacovelli returned to Oahu in 1998 following a successful stint at University Michigan, he was consumed with one thought: “I remember thinking every day that I wanted to make the most of my opportunity at HPU,” he said. “Being so far away for those few years and then being able to come home and represent a school in my own backyard, literally 10 minutes away, was a gift. For me, it was an opportunity to perform at my peak.”

Upon his arrival, Iacovelli made an immediate impact on the cross country community in his one and only season with the Sea Warriors, winning four of his first five races in meets hosted by BYU-Hawaii, HPU and UH-Hilo. From there, he went on to win the PacWest Conference meet that year as well as the NCAA West Regional. At the NCAA championships, he came in 19th overall with a time of 30:01.

Those achievements helped Iacovelli earn First Team All-American honors.

He also was the first American as well as the first Hawaii-born runner to participate in the NCAA Championships for HPU. Iacovelli also won the Great Aloha Run later in 2006.

His riveting season in 1998 will be celebrated further in October when Iacovelli will be inducted into Wealth Strategy Partners’ HPU Athletics Hall of Fame. He joins Les Akeo Jr. (baseball), Nia Tuitele (volleyball), Debbie Sant’Anna (volleyball) and Erik Sandblom (tennis) in HPU’s third Hall of Fame class.

“It’s a wonderful honor and totally unexpected,” said Iacovelli, who coaches cross country and track at his alma mater, Punahou. “At HPU, I found my love of running beyond the results. My time there helped me to understand the training and commitment.”

Iacovelli still runs competitively and is a fixture around the Kailua community, especially the Lanikai area. “I consider it my preferred training ground,” he said.

Iacovelli’s cross country career began while a student at Punahou. “The first phase was when I was a freshman and wanted to get in shape for basketball,” he said. “I liked that I was good at it and could win races. When I got to a bigger pond at Michigan, I didn’t always win races. I had injuries and some real challenges in college. My main motivation now is self-discipline and molding myself to be committed to the task. That process began at HPU.”

The Athletics Hall of Fame now stands at 15 members. The class of 2013 will join previous inductees Benny Agbayani, Tita Ahuna, Jurgen Malbeck, Susie Schoales, Llewellyn Smalley, Gabriela Artigas, Nina Christensen, Mikael Maatta, Howard Okita and Tony Sellitto.

Iacovelli and the 2013 class will be honored at the downtown YWCA’s Café Julia on Oct. 16. The S.H.A.R.X. Benefit (Supporting HPU Athletes to Reach eXcellence) will begin with a cocktail hour and silent auction at 5:30 p.m. Dinner and the program follow at 6:30.

To purchase tickets or a table at the event, visit or call 356-5223.