RIVERSIDE — Stellar efforts from the Flintridge Prep and La Cañada High boys' and girls' cross-country programs highlighted a magical day for the city of La Cañada Flintridge at Saturday's CIF Southern Section Championships at the Riverside Cross Country Course.
The Flintridge Prep girls continued their dominance of Division V, while Rebels boys' standout Evan Pattinelli claimed his second straight Division V title and the Spartans girls clinched a long-awaited spot to state.
The day's first title came in the first race: the Division V girls' championships.
Flintridge Prep shrugged off a runner-up effort at the Prep League finals to bounce St. Margaret's, 55-101, in the Division V championships for the program's fifth straight Southern Section crown and sixth in program history.
"The girls did really great today," Flintridge Prep coach Jill Henry said. "They ran with a lot of heart and they ran composed. This is exactly what we needed heading into next week to defend our state title."
Reigning state Division V champion Flintridge Prep will now head into Saturday's CIF State Finals at Fresno's Woodward Park.
While Flintridge Prep was a virtual shoe-in, there was still plenty of drama up front.
Rebels senior Sophie Gitlin led through a large portion of the race before Village Christian freshman and La Crescenta resident Mia Barnett gained on Gitlin over the final 500 yards.
Barnett eventually passed Gitlin down the final 200 yards for victory in 17 minutes, 43.1 seconds, while Gitlin took silver in 17:59.
Despite the narrow loss, Gitlin was hardly deflated.
"I guess I like this course even though it's a little boring," said Gitlin, who finished sixth (18:14) last season. "I'm so proud of the girls because they've been working insanely hard for this and totally deserve it."
After Gitlin, the Rebels' scoring squad consisted of junior Sasha Codiga (fourth, 18:06.5), junior Haley Allen (eighth, 18:19.7), senior Gabriella Bennett (17th, 19:11.2) and junior Jenna Mijares (29th, 19:47.4). Flintridge Prep's championship squad also included Hope Codiga and Molly Schwartz.
In the boys' Division V competition, the Rebels finished third with 122 points behind Thacher (82) and Cerritos Valley Christian (117) in advancing to state.
The wonderfully competitive rivalry between Pasadena Poly's Xian Shively and Pattinelli played out once again.
While Shively captured a Prep League title, Pattinelli exacted revenge in winning a second straight Division V championship in 14:51.9, ahead of the Poly runner's time of 14:56.2.
"I didn't want it to come down to a kicker's race because [Shively] has got a great kick, but that's just the way it played out and I didn't want to lose again," Pattinelli said. "I just went for it."
Behind Pattinelli, junior Carson Hasbrouck (11th, 15:42.3), freshman Bennett Oakes (24th, 16:19.9) and junior Sebastian Evans (31st, 16:39.5) posted top-50 efforts for the Rebels.
There was a big celebration just around the corner from the finish line as the Rio Hondo League champion La Cañada girls qualified to state for the first time since 2012.
The Spartans finished fifth with 159 points in the Division IV championship, which was won by Foothill Technology (70 points). A year ago, the Spartans took eighth and missed the cut by one spot.
One big reason behind the Spartans' drive to Fresno was freshman Kayley Bond, who was dynamic again in taking third place in 17:56.2.
"Today, I was a little more tired, so that made me nervous for the race," said Bond, the Rio Hondo League individual champion. "I just had to block everything else out and say, 'Hey, I'm going to run my race today.'"
Senior Katie Scoville, the 2015 Division IV champion, was second for La Cañada and took 16th in 18:25.2, while Adena DiPaolo (40th, 19:19.8) also placed in the top 50 for the Spartans.
In that Division IV race, La Cañada resident McKenna Smith also earned advancement to state by taking fourth (17:57) for the runner-up Mayfield Cubs (100 points).
Only the La Cañada girls are heading to state, as the boys capped a season in which they finished second in league by placing 19th in the Division IV finals with 503 points.
Junior Owen Serricchio was his team's lone top-50 placer as he finished 20th in 16:11.3.
Flintridge Sacred Heart also bid farewell to a season in which the program recaptured the Mission League title a year after finishing in last place.
The Tologs earned 15th with 418 points in the Division IV championships, which was won by Foothill Technology (70).
Junior Samantha Covey led the charge for Flintridge Sacred Heart and finished 57th (19:48.8).
"There's no disappointment here," Tologs coach Kirk Nishiyama said. "We knew to qualify to state we were going to have to run our best race and then some. We didn't run our best race today, but it's been a great season and we have a lot of girls coming back."