LA CRESCENTA — It's likely an accurate assessment to say both the Flintridge Prep girls' and boys' cross-country squads are rebuilding.
But while the girls' squad is looking at expectations of simply improving while laying the foundation of a very young program, the boys' team's seeking to rebuild its tradition of Prep League titles and dominance.
Both appeared to take steps in the right direction on Tuesday, but as their expectations are different so too were their reactions.
"We have a lot of promise, but we have to own it," said Rebels boys' Coach Ingrid Herskind, whose team, led by a third-place mark from Jason Bunn, was nipped by first-place Chadwick, 37-39, in the first Prep League Meet of the season at Crescenta Valley Park.
Prep's girls' team took third, falling in behind Mayfield, which took over first place from reigning league champion and CIF Southern Section Division V kingpin Chadwick. Mayfield edged Chadwick, 31-39, with Prep tallying 97 points to finish in front of Westridge. However, the scores were unofficial, though the placements were not, due to a bit of confusion with individual placement.
The Rebels were led by Kaitlin Kelleher (14th, 21 minutes 32.58 seconds), but Kelleher was the cause for concern after the race as she couldn't stand nor walk on her own due to extreme exhaustion. She was later taken away by paramedics, though a Westridge trainer attending to her said it was precautionary.
While the aftermath of Kelleher's race was scary, her placement atop the Rebels' top five was really the only predictable outcome for Coach Mike Roffina's bunch.
"We didn't have a lot of expectations," said Roffina, whose remaining top five consisted of Kate Evans (16th, 21:44.80), Sarah Yoho (19th, 22:43.40), Kate Kennedy (23rd, 23:05.40) and Marissa Wang (25th, 24:09.87). "This is our first [big] race and we wanted to see how we stacked up against some really good teams.
"We're happy with where we're at right now and we look to improve with a very young team."
Herskind is also looking for improvement as her team looks to rebound in league after finishing second last season behind Poly, which stopped Prep's run of 17 straight league titles.
But it wasn't Poly that trumped Prep this time around, it was a new challenger in Chadwick.
Still Herskind said she wasn't surprised by the Dolphins coming up and the Panthers going down, but is still a bit uncertain about her Rebels.
"We're just trying to figure out where we're at [as a team]," Herskind said.
Bunn took third in 17:07.33, but the Rebels were already in a large hole, with Dolphins Lucas Lebovitz (16:46.21) and Alec Borsook (16:56.11) taking first and second, respectively.
"We basically need to stop that [1-2 combo] and Jason knows that," Herskind said.
Following Bunn was Jesse Redding (sixth, 17:25.46), Taylor Beith (eighth, 17:31.40), Elias Ellison (10th, 17:48.40) and Jake Johnson (12th, 17:54.56).
"We have a lot of promise," Herskind said, "but we have to dig deeper."