Flintridge Prep boys' track reign supreme at Prep League Finals

CLAREMONT — Plaques were not in short supply for the Flintridge Prep track and field program on what was a banner evening for the boys at the Prep League Finals at Claremont McKenna College on Thursday.

The Flintridge Prep boys defended their league title, holding off archrival Pasadena Poly, 82.5-69.5, while earning both a track most valuable player in junior Alan Yoho and a field co-MVP in senior West Nowotny.

“We thought going in we’d have a chance to win, but you have to still compete,” Rebels Coach Nick Ponticello said. “It’s an honor to win again.”

Yoho spearheaded the effort with three individual victories in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, with his win in the two-mile race setting a new league record.

“I came into today hoping to win league MVP; that was my goal,” Yoho said. “The only problem is I’ve been sick the last couple of days and I wasn’t sure how I’d do.”

Despite flu-like conditions, Yoho smashed the previous record of 9 minutes, 54.17 seconds set by Flintridge Prep’s Damien Schultz in 1997 with a mark of 9:45.57, as Ponticello cheered on Yoho the final 100 meters.

“I couldn’t have done it without [Aaron Sugimoto] because he pushes me,” said Yoho, who began with wins in the 800 (2:01.23) and 1,600 (4:27.59). “When Sug and I get together, we break records.”

Sugimoto also bested Schultz’ mark with a runner-up time of 9:51.72 and earned a CIF Southern Section Division IV at-large entry time.

Like Yoho, Nowotny was also a two-time winner, as the senior clinched the shot put in 49 feet, 10 inches and followed that with a victory in the discus with a toss of 112 feet, 10 inches.

“It’s an honor to win this award and to win a championship with my teammates,” said Nowotny, who’s heading to Amherst College in the fall. “To be a part of this program the last few years has been special.”

Nowotny shared his MVP with Webb’s Nick Pankratz.

While his brother Gareth Weiss did not participate because of a previous gymnastics commitment, Barrett Weiss picked up the slack by winning the pole vault in 13-8.

Prep’s Jonathan Wang, who finished third in the pole vault with an 11-6, also earned an at-large berth to the prelims.

As for the girls, the Rebels took third in league behind reigning champion Mayfield Senior (167) and Poly (148).

Even so, there were plenty of strong efforts.

Kate Evans kick-started a strong day by winning the 1,600 in a mark of 5:18.70 and then later finished runner-up to friend Evan Gancedo (11:53) of Poly, the eventual track co-MVP, in the 3,200 (11:55).

“We’ve been competing against each other since the fifth grade,” Evans said of Gancedo. “I know she’s got the 800, but in the 1,600, she makes me run better because I’m terrified of her kick.”

Sarah Yoho also notched a victory on the girls’ side, when she clinched the high jump with a leap of 5 feet.

All event champions and at-large entrants earned a berth to the CIF Southern Section Division IV preliminaries at Carpinteria High on May 11.

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