WOODLAND HILLS — After its 18-year reign as Prep League champion came to an unexpected halt last season, the Flintridge Prep boys' cross-country team needed to regroup.
Instead of stewing, the Rebels opted to get back to the basics with the mind set of upholding their rich tradition and putting in extra miles in their quest to grab the league mantle back.
Prep's showing couldn't have been any better after a fast-moving storm moved into the region about five hours before the race began.
Prep reclaimed the league championship Saturday morning, as it had seven top-15 finishers to run past Chadwick, 39-40, at L.A. Pierce College.
The Rebels, who took second to Pasadena Poly last season, automatically qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division V prelims, which will be held at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut on Nov. 13.
"The nice thing about this is that things have been coming along smoothly," said Flintridge Prep Coach Ingrid Herskind, who piloted the Rebels to their 14th league title since taking over the program in 1996. "You can see it coming in bits and we'd changed our training regimen.
"Putting in more miles helped us gain our focus more. We really wanted to win to put us back into the mentality of the program."
Prep's girls' team took third and also advanced to the Division V prelims.
In the boys' portion of the meet, won by Chadwick's Lucas Lebovits in 15 minutes 56.19 seconds on the muddy 2.91-mile course, the Rebels saw their top seven runners turn in solid performances reminiscent of yesteryear.
Prep was led by senior Jason Bunn, who clocked 16:26.60 to finish fourth, behind Lebovits and Alec Borsook (15:58.02) of Chadwick and Bailey Stockdale (16:03.65) of Webb. The Rebels enjoyed a windfall between the seventh and 15th spots.
After Michael Caughron (16:36.88) of Pasadena Poly and Sam Cartwright (16:42.11) of Chadwick placed fifth and sixth, respectively, the Rebels provided Bunn support. Jesse Redding of Prep took seventh (16:45.21), followed by Elias Ellison (eighth, 16:51.02), Eli Weinstein (ninth, 16:52.62), Taylor Beith (11th 17:18.45), Jake Johnson (12th 17:24) and James Bradley (15th 17:38) to propel the Rebels.
"Last year, we were a bit dysfunctional," said Bunn, who finished fourth in the event for the second straight season. "This year, we have had everybody on the same page and we had a lot more confidence that we could win league.
"There are no more excuses."
"There was a point of pride for us, and we felt that we had to get it back," Redding said. "You saw it by us getting our top seven in the top 15 with guys like James Bradley.
"We still have some work to do. At CIF, we are going to have to fight."
In the girls' race, Chadwick won with 25 points, followed by Mayfield (46) and Prep (81). Chadwick's Jaye Buchbinder clocked 19:00.40 to win the race for the second straight time. Lauren Ouye of Mayfield was second (19:23.73) and teammate Christina Cordano took third (19:41.77).
The Rebels, who finished third in the meet for the third season in a row, turned to Kaitlyn Kelleher. The sophomore finished eighth (20:00.23) after taking 11th last season (20:02.43).
Prep's other top racers included Sarah Yoho (12th, 20:34.05), Kate Evans (16th, 20:57.56), Audrey Levy (22nd, 22:11.95) and Galey Calverly (23rd, 22:12.54).
Kelleher said the course conditions weren't favorable for the runners, who had large portions of mud covering their shoes after completing the race.
"It was hard running up the hills and the mud pulled you back," Kelleher said. "I was hoping for a top-10 finish and beating my placement from last year.
"It's more about placement than time. We have a young team and we just have to keep a positive attitude. If we can practice hard, then good things will come."
Flintridge Prep girls' Coach Mike Roffina, whose team last won a league championship in 2006, said the Rebels' main goal was to reach the prelims.
"We are a very young team, so I'm very happy that we are going on," Roffina said. "We are learning about our potential.
"Kaitlyn ran a great race and she was very focused. She embraced the race and engaged in it."