First published in the Nov. 4 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
The Flintridge Prep varsity girls’ cross-country team narrowly defeated Palos Verdes Chadwick to win the Prep League finals at Pierce College on Saturday.
Polytechnic finished third, Mayfield Senior was fourth and Westridge was fifth.
Meanwhile, Flintridge Prep and Poly’s varsity boys’ cross-country teams placed third and fourth, respectively.
Flintridge Prep’s top five runners matched Chadwick’s to tie the race at 50 points apiece, setting up senior Veronica Habashy (21st place, 21:55) — Prep’s sixth-place finisher — to beat Chadwick’s Marielle Alden by 10 seconds and bring home the championship for the Wolves.
“I would always choose a competition like [Saturday’s] where it’s a nail-bitter and every moment counts and every runner needs to be engaged and focused,” said Jill Henry, Flintridge Prep’s girls’ head coach. “This is what you live for as an athlete, to be a part of competitions like this and we’re glad it shook out in our direction but it was just fun to be in a contest that was that close.”
The Wolves had three top 10 placements — senior Nicole Mirzaian (fifth place, 20:12), junior Anya Rose (seventh, 20:28) and sophomore Hailey Wilson (eighth, 20:30).
“For the first mile and a half, [Rose] was running behind two Chadwick runners who were shoulder to shoulder,” Henry said. “Not only did she get in front of them, but she broke up their pack. Really by making the move to pass them on a downhill, she broke them up and then more of our runners got in front of them. Her move … really set our team up to break up their five runners much more efficiently than we could have otherwise.”
It is critical to break up packs in cross-country to spread the point values across the board instead of one team clustering together to score.
Sophomore Julia Bonk (13th place, 21:08), senior Rosalinda Chen (17th, 21:27) and Audrey Jung (32nd, 23:34) rounded out Prep’s seven total finishers.
Behind Prep and Chadwick, Poly placed third with 84 total points and a combined top-five finishing time of 1:47:43.
Four of Poly’s top five runners finished in the top half of the 38 combined runners in the race — freshman Stella Keatley (fourth place, 20:05), senior Catherine Sabbag (11th, 20:53), junior Phoebe Salvati (15th, 21:16) and Chloe Garcia Duong (19th, 21:44).
Poly sophomore Audrey Tomlin (23:43) and senior Megan Ha (24:36) finished 35th and 37th, respectively.
Finishing fourth with 89 points and a combined 1:47:37 combined time was Mayfield Senior.
Junior Cecilia Kvochak (19:41) had an excellent race, finishing second overall. Behind Cecilia Kvochak were freshman Sophie Limongelli (16th, 21:19) and sophomore Clare Kvochak (20th, 21:54), while freshmen Sissy Page (25th, 22:19), Lara Georgian (26th, 22:23) and Monika Vargas (27th, 22:48) finished as a pack.
Coming in fifth was Westridge, ahead of Burbank Providence by five minutes. The Tigers’ top five runners earned 113 points, equal to Chadwick, but finished with a combined 1:51:29 time.
Senior Jazlyn Gutierrez (sixth place, 20:14) was the only Tiger to finish in the top 10. Behind her, freshman Ximena Alvarado (23rd, 22:05), senior Claire Swift (24th, 22:12) and junior Atalanta Carrig-Braun (29th, 23:24) placed in the top 30.
Senior Tori Nutting (31st, 23:32), Lucia Potter (33rd, 23:39) and freshman Margaret Northrop (34th, 23:40) each averaged sub-eight-minute mile times.
Flintridge Prep and Polytechnic finished third and fourth, respectively, in the boys’ meet behind first-place Providence Burbank and second-place Chadwick.
Flintridge Prep accumulated 64 points and combined for a 1:27:29 time between its top five runners, while Poly scored 80 points with a combined 1:28:25 time.
The Wolves ended the race with two top 10 finishers — senior Dominick Schraeder (sixth place, 16:38) and junior Bryan Taniguchi (10th, 17:25). Meanwhile, Kevin Martinez (11th, 17:29) averaged 5:50 per mile.
Rounding out Prep’s runners were sophomores Evan Guyer (17th, 17:50), Nicolas Stanton (20th, 18:05), Ryan Ginn (24th, 18:27) and Max Goodman (27th, 19:20).
Junior Adrian Lazzi (16:33) finished fifth to pace the Panthers. Poly’s next two fastest runners — freshman Simon Zernicki-Glover (13th, 17:37) and senior Colin MacLeod (19th, 17:51) — finished in the top 20.
Rounding out the Panthers’ runners were junior Luke Nelson (21st, 18:06), senior Liem Yen (22nd, 18:17), sophomore Nathaniel Karafilis (25th, 18:34) and sophomore Caden DeKunder (26th, 18:35).