By Olivia Chiu
Photos by Hana Tyszka
Cross country finished its season spectacularly today at the Rio Hondo League Finals in Lacy Park. All five divisions, Frosh/soph boys, JV Girls, JV Boys, varsity boys and varsity girls, competed, with all South Pas teams except the varsity girls securing first in league.
Girls’ varsity took a noteworthy second place and ended on its narrowest loss to season-long rival La Cañada. Frontrunner senior Emily Ye took second individually 39 at a course personal record (PR) of 19:10. Freshman talent Elizabeth Bock followed with 19:35 and an individual placing of fifth. Remaining scorers senior Maaike Wielenga (19:54, seventh), sophomore Maddy Engelsman (20:05, eighth) and sophomore Bailey Wu (20:10, 11th) brought the team total to a 33 points and a tie with the Spartans. The tiebreaker fell to the sixth runner from each school, and La Cañada edged out senior Briana Nuñez (20:36, 16th) by a mere eight seconds. Unfortunately, regular scoring member freshman Lindsey Calva tripped during the race and was unable to finish. Nonetheless, the girls are extremely proud of the progress they have made throughout the season, as the gap between the Tigers and the Spartans has lessened with each league meet, with La Cañada ultimately taking the league title by a narrow margin through the technicality of considering the sixth runners’ times . The varsity girls’ squad is headed for CIF Prelims as one of the top three teams in each varsity race advancing to CIF.
“It was a little disappointing to get second place,” Ye said. “We were so close. But, it is important to remember that we improved a lot, considering where we began. Now we know we have a good chance at CIF. We just have to keep working hard and stay positive.”
The varsity boys’ team continued its strong performance in league, winning with a large margin of 33 points to second place rival San Marino. Junior Kieran Press-Reynolds led the team at 16:12, securing first individually and earning the title of 2015 Rio Hondo League Champion. Sophomore Oliver Chang finished closely behind at 16:30 and second individually. Freshman Francesco Fortunelli (16:49, fourth), junior Jaehyung Choi (17:10, eighth), and senior Raymond Gilmartin (17:12, ninth) finished within the top ten, garnering a total of 24 points for boys’ varsity.
The non-varsity divisions also concluded their seasons exceptionally, with notable performances in each race. Senior Fiona Bock (20:28) and sophomore Caroline Liu (20:37), who placed first and second of 73, respectively, in JV Girls, who secured a win with 28 points, five over its closest rival, La Cañada. Sophomores Jacob Wielenga (17:42, first of 64) and Armando Sibrian (17:58, second) led the Frosh/Soph boys to victory with a perfect score of 15. Senior Amador Lagunas (17:52, first of 42) and junior Wayne Monical (18:10, second) brought the JV boys to an easy win with a near-perfect total of 16 points, defeating their second place opponent Temple City by 40 points.
“We knew where we were starting from and we knew where we wanted to go,” assistant coach Patrick McGrail said. “We had to work progressively harder throughout the season. Today we showed we went far; we laid the foundation, not just for next year, but for the next several years. Today we showed who we are.”
Both varsity teams are now looking to Saturday, November 14 for the beginning of their CIF season. Prelims, which will be held at the “Riverside City Cross Country Course,” formerly known as the Riverside Golf Club, due to the closure of customary Prelims course Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) for construction. CIF Finals are expected to be held at Woodward, Fresno on Saturday, November 21.