LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Missing a second consecutive meet wasn't what James Knowles had in mind. With his right hamstring healthy, the St. Francis High track and field standout showed he's ready to defend his Mission League championships in a pair of hurdle events.
Despite the cool temperatures, Knowles took to the course and heated up, as he captured the 110- and 300-meter hurdles in a Mission League dual meet against Harvard-Westlake on Wednesday afternoon.
Knowles clocked 14.16 seconds in the 110 before finishing in 39.09 in the 300 for the Golden Knights, who suffered a 79-48 defeat.
Flintridge Sacred Heart suffered a 78-49 season-opening defeat, though its got two wins from Noëlle Niederhaus.
Knowles, a senior and the reigning All-Area Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year, missed St. Francis' season-opening league meet against Loyola on March 1 after tweaking his hamstring during warmups. He was ready Thursday.
"For my first time back, I felt like I did fine," said Knowles, who advanced to the CIF Masters Meet last season in the 300. "In the 110, I did OK and I felt good.
"Once I got to the 300, I felt even better. I'm trying to get my feeling back and I understand what I need to do. It's more about getting my technique down in the 110 and steps in the 300."
St. Francis (1-1 overall and in league) saw Knowles' younger brother, Eric, win the triple jump in 40 feet 5 inches.
St. Francis Coach Pat Donovan, whose team defeated the Wolverines last season at Harvard-Westlake, said Knowles appeared to have turned the corner.
"He was cool and poised with the way he ran both races," Donovan said. "He's ready for the long season and this was his jumping-up point."
The Golden Knights also saw Daniel Delgadillo win the 100 in 11.72. St. Francis' 4x100 relay team of Marshall Tush, Anthony Carter, Caleb Simmeth and Delgadillo won in 45 seconds.
"We gave up 27 points in the distance races and that's hard to come back from," Donovan said. "Harvard-Westlake has a great distance team. It's rough for me right now with our distance."
Harvard-Westlake (2-0 overall and in league) received a pair of wins from Aaron DeToledo. DeToledo won the 1,600 in 4 minutes 43 seconds and the 3,200 in 10:08.
Niederhaus proved to be the biggest bright spot for the Tologs. She started out winning the 800 in 2:22.24 before capturing the triple jump in 32-9. She closed out the meet by teaming with Hailey James, Daelyn Moon and Kayla Montgomery to win the 4x400 relay in 4:12.
James won the 300 hurdles (49.44) for the Tologs, who also got a victory from Kayla Grahn in the 3,200 (12:41).
Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Eddie Gorton said Niederhaus, who ran the third leg in the relay, entered the season with high expectations.
"She knows the type of athlete that she is and what she's capable of doing," Gorton said. "She wants to set the school record in the 800 (2:19)."