CLAREMONT — What would the Prep League’s opening cross-country meet be without at least a couple of surprises?
While Thursday’s competition at Webb School included expected outcomes, such as the Flintridge Prep boys again flexing their muscles. There were also unexpected results, such as the one provided by the Flintridge Prep girls, which defined the event.
The Rebels, who finished fourth at last year’s Prep League finals, shocked the league by delivering a 41-49 victory over reigning league champ Mayfield, which entered the race as the No. 2-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division IV.
“It’s been, oh I don’t know, at least four or five years since we beat Mayfield,” Prep co-Coach Mike Roffina said. “We are so grateful for the level of competition we face in this league and the girls, under the running of [co-coach] Jill Riehl, deserve the credit.”
A mile into the race, the Rebels already moved two runners into the top five in Kate Evans and Sarah Yoho.
A mile later, up the second-to-last ascent of Webb’s hilly three-mile course, Evans moved into second behind surprising freshman Emma Hovanec of Westridge.
“I’m not the best in cross-country, but I worked on my mental strength this summer,” Evans said. “I don’t know who that Westridge girl was, but she was good and I was just trying to keep up.”
Evans eventually finished second in 19 minutes 17 seconds behind Hovanec (19:02) and was followed by fifth-place Ashley Lara, who was a bit surprised with her effort in 19:51.
“I’m coming back from a stress fracture last year, and last year was like ‘ugh,’” Lara said. “This is my comeback this year and I’m happy with this race.”
In the positioning battle with Mayfield, Flintridge Prep’s next three scoring runners of Lacy Coan (20:13), a transfer from Washington, Yoho (20:48) and Grace Broyles (21:26) finished eighth, 10th and 16th, respectively, in topping the Cubs, who had runners finish sixth, seventh, 11th, 12th, and 13th.
“We’re concentrated on coming together and preparing for a team,” Roffina said. “Today, we ran like a team.”
The Rebels will have an opportunity to take the crown away from the Cubs at the Prep League finals at Los Angeles Pierce College on Oct. 27.
As for the defending champion Rebel boys, they provided the breeze in the near 100-degree temperatures in romping to a 20-62 victory over Chadwick.
“I was really proud of how the guys ran today. They dealt with the heat and stayed together as a pack,” Rebels Coach Ingrid Herskind said.
Herskind’s pack was primarily in front as senior Aaron Sugimoto finished runner-up in 15:28 and was followed from third to sixth by teammates Alan Yoho (15:35), Tyler Fong (16:02), Elias Ellison (16:18) and Eric Sasse (16:31).
The surprise of the pack may have been Sasse, who admitted he wasn’t sure he’d make the top five.
“I just wanted to be up there, but I didn’t know. I just ran,” Sasse said. “I was happy with this finish.”
The only drama in the boys’ race came at the end when Pasadena Poly’s Michael Caughron (15:24) rallied from his second-place spot held the entire race and nipped Sugimoto over the last 100 meters.
“You know Michael is one of the best runners in league,” Sugimoto said. “I tried my best to win, but I have to credit him. Other than that, I think we did really well.”