LOS ANGELES — Hot temperatures, a dusty trail and hilly course provided the perfect opportunity for a few local teams to overcome the obstacles and prosper at Saturday’s 40th annual Bellarmine-Jefferson Cross-Country Invitational at Griffith Park.
No individual stood out more than did La Cañada High senior Anna Frederich, who both won the individual girls varsity white race, while leading the Spartans to an impressive team victory.
“We came out here two years and I missed my chance to get a backpack. I didn’t want to walk away empty-handed again,” said Frederich, in reference to the knapsack awarded to the winner of each race. “This is our third race within the last week and we wanted to make this our best.”
While the Spartans finished 23rd in the Woodbridge Invitational rated race on Sept. 21 and runner-up at the Rio Hondo League’s first meet on Wednesday, there was no denying La Cañada, which finished with 53 points in holding off both Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (76) and Chaminade (77).
Frederich was a near runaway winner, taking the lead about 800 meters into the race before eventually costing to a victory in 18 minutes, 31 seconds, well ahead of runner-up Savannah Berry (18:57) of Bakersfield Highland High.
“It was hot, but I guess that was good weather for us,” said Spartans Coach Jenn Strople, whose team was initially supposed to run at the Stanford Invitational. “Anna obviously ran well, but we had some great efforts from throughout the team.”
Colleen Mispagel was La Cañada’s No. 2 runner Saturday, finishing fifth overall with a mark of 19:40, while Eloise Dimase-Nordling was the third Spartan to finish in the top 10, taking ninth in 20:52.
Jenny Callen (18th, 21:59) and Caitlyn Mispagel (25th, 22:26) rounded out the scoring for La Cañada.
In terms of individual area finishes, the next two highest placers earned seventh in Hoover High’s Vladimir Climasevschii and La Cañada’s Ethan Angold.
Climasevschii and the Tornadoes competed in the varsity boys red race alongside city archrival Glendale and took 11th overall with 291 points in a competition won by Loyola (24 points).
Climasevschii finished in a mark of 16:44 and was the lone Hoover athlete in the top 25 as the team’s runner-up, Andrew Alvarado (17:53), nabbed 50th.
“It was just so hot and there was so much dust that you’re swallowing it on the course when you try to breathe,” Climasevschii said. “But I can’t be too disappointed because I did get a medal, which was my goal.”
As for the Nitros, Paulo Vazquez (16:58) and Liam Spires (17:00) never strayed more than five seconds apart in finishing 17th and 18th, respectively, for Glendale.
“It was really hard out there because it’s hot and the hills were brutal,” Spires said.
“The dust, it was everywhere,” Vazquez added.
As for Angold, the Spartans’ top runner posted the area’s best mark of 16:36. Mitchell Trout was the Spartans’ only other runner to place in the top 50 as he was 45th (18:01).
“I like these races because they’re different than league. Today, it’s just about individual accomplishment,” Angold said.
Overall, St. Francis proved city dominance in the boys white race in finishing seventh with 150 points, ahead of 10th-place La Cañada (233).
Sophomore Chris Rodriguez was again the Golden Knights’ catalyst, earning 19th in 17:13, with teammates Adam Lyons (19th, 17:13), Michael Vega (37th, 17:52) and Max Sinclair (46th, 18:02) all finishing in the top 50.
“We just wanted to do well,” Rodriguez said. “This isn’t a friendly course. It’s either up or down, there is no flat part here.”
Hoover’s Lucik Minassian turned in her squad’s best mark in the girls’ red race as the Tornado took 43rd (21:11), while teammate Megan Mirkhanian was 56th (21:44).
“I wanted to get a medal and that didn’t happen,” Minassian said. “It was hard today and I just tried my best. I can be proud of that.”