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Girls’ Track and Field Preview: City trio leans on stars

Girls’ Track and Field Preview: City trio leans on stars
La Cañada High senior Claire Murray, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year, enjoyed a magical postseason run that led her to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

There were points of pride and some notable accomplishments for the La Cañada High, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Flintridge Prep girls' track and field programs last season.

Each squad returns at least one marquee name and all have their sights set on a big 2018 season.

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The Spartans turned in one of their better campaigns in quite some time, led by the exploits of junior Claire Murray.

La Cañada finished third in the Rio Hondo League behind champion South Pasadena, while the girls individually claimed three league titles.

Murray, the reigning All-Area Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year, began a magical postseason run by winning the league 100-meter hurdles title in 14.98 seconds.

Her best effort came at the CIF Southern Section Division III preliminaries at Estancia High where she set a personal and school record in the 100 hurdles with a mark of 14.60.

The following week, Murray won the Division III title in 14.71 at Cerritos College to become her school's first girls' hurdle champion. Murray also earned a spot to the Masters Meet, where her season ended when she hit a hurdle.

She's back and new coach Andi DiConti, who took over for veteran Casey Mollett, sees even more in store.

"Sprints coach Pete Magill has already identified a few things to work on for her that can help bring her time down even further," DiConti said. "We see a 14.5 potential and like her chances to repeat and defend her CIF title."

In other events, the Spartans will depend on their league champion cross-country team as sophomore Sarah Auther returns after winning a league championship in the 3,200 (11:47.26) and will compete in that event and the 1,600. Junior Adena DiPaola and Ellaney Matarese will also compete in the 1,600, while sophomore Kamryn Creighton will lead the way in the sprints and relays, freshman Artis Phillips is set to compete in the 800 and junior Sydney Mueller looks to impress in the shot put.

At Flintridge Prep, the Rebels graduated a true generational talent in Hanna Barakat, who won four Prep League individual titles last season to finish with 10 in her career, while the University of Brown sprinter propelled her squad to second place in league behind Mayfield Senior.

The good news for the Rebels is that they return defending league champions in junior Sasha Codiga (800 meter in 2:25.25) and senior Sophie Gitlin (3,200 in 11:15.57)

"I definitely want to see us be more competitive overall as a team this year," new Flintridge Prep coach Scott Jung said. "While we have a lot of younger talent this season, I believe our sprint squad will be stronger this season."

One athlete Jung will count on is Marissa David, the school's top jumper, who will also be competing in the 100 dash this season.

Jung is also looking for Haley Allen to be a contender in the 3,200.

The good news for Flintridge Sacred Heart is that the Tologs return a few talented athletes from last year. The bad news is that the Tologs still compete in the daunting Mission League.

Last season, the Tologs finished 0-4 in league and produced only one league champion in junior Kelly Carney.

"It's going to be an interesting 2018 season, but much like last year, we're going to have a lot of newcomers and some freshmen who will be competing for us," Flintridge Sacred Heart coach Johnathan Keys said. "We have do have some returners and we're expecting big things from them."

Carney returns as the most decorated athlete on her squad and a two-time Mission League champ after capturing the triple jump last season in a mark of 35 feet, 6 inches, which is a school record.

Carney is also expected to compete in the long jump and will try the sprints and relays this season.

Another competitor to keep an eye on is sophomore Lauren Bolte, who finished sixth in the 100 dash in 60.42 and advanced to the Division IV prelims.

Keys is also high on the prospects of junior Jillian Willis, a member of the 1,600 relay squad and a 300 hurdler last season.

"We're aware of how tough this league is, but honestly I just want the ladies to focus on their own times and distances," Keys said. "If you focus on the person next to you and lose sight of what you're doing, then you're only hurting yourself."

Twitter: @campadresports

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