Flintridge Sacred Heart cross-country takes second, St. Francis earns sixth

LA CRESCENTA — While the results didn’t necessarily bear out any big changes, home course advantage provided some benefits for the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and St. Francis High cross-country programs in Thursday afternoon’s second Mission League meet at Crescenta Valley Park.

The Tologs continued to prove themselves a force within league by finishing runner-up, while a young Golden Knights squad continued to gain valuable training in taking sixth.

“It helps to have experience on this course and know what to expect,” Tologs junior Kayla Grahn said. “I like that we’re back here again for a league meet after missing it last year. It’s a tough course, but it’s a good challenge.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart finished runner-up with 56 points to Harvard-Westlake, which tallied 32 points and boasted the race-winner in senior Lizzy Thomas, who won in 19 minutes flat.

While the differential in points wasn’t much from the 36-58 score at the league’s first meet at Van Nuys’ Woodley Park on Sept. 11, individually the Tologs made strides.

Grahn, who took 11th as the Tologs’ third runner at Woodley Park, moved up both the team and league standings by leading Flintridge Sacred Heart in taking fifth in 20:38.

“There’s a lot of good competition from Notre Dame, Alemany and Harvard-Westlake,” Grahn said. “We were just trying to run in a pack and do our best.”

Grahn was in eighth place at the one-mile mark and fell back to 11th midway through the race before advancing to seventh at 2 1/2 miles and overtaking two more runners over the final 200 meters.

The Tologs’ somewhat topsy-turvy results included a solid effort from Monica Collins.

The freshman was the Tologs’ No. 5 runner in the team’s first race, but moved up to second by finishing 10th in 21:04.

“When you have good teams, they motivate us,” Collins said.

Flintridge Sacred Heart’s remaining scorers were Maddie Peterson (11th, 21:10), Riley Gilmartin (13th, 21:16) and Clare Lund (17th, 21:22).

As for the remaining girls’ teams, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame was third (76), Alemany took fourth (94), Chaminade earned fifth (108) and Louisville was sixth (139).

On the boys’ side, the Loyola Cubs flexed their muscles with an almost flawless effort in placing their top seven runners through the initial nine spots in finishing with 18 points, three off a perfect score.

Loyola’s Robert Brandt was the race victor, taking first in 16:11.

The Cubs’ effort was so dominant that the team’s last runner, ninth-place William Burschinger (16:47), was seven spots ahead of the Golden Knights’ No. 1 runner, sophomore Chris Rodriguez, who was 16th in 17:16.

“We’re not trying to compare ourselves against Alemany or Loyola or any of those teams,” Golden Knights sophomore Mickael Vega said. “We were just trying to do our best on this course, which gives us a little advantage.”

Vega was the only other St. Francis runner to finish in the top 30, taking 28th in 18:02, while Jack and Adam Lyons were in close company, finishing with times of 18:34, which was good for 32nd and 33rd, respectively.

St. Francis finished sixth with 147 points, behind runner-up Crespi (74), Harvard-Westlake (84), Alemany (92) and Notre Dame (115), but ahead of Chaminade (212).

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