WOODLAND HILLS — For 17 seasons, Flintridge Prep’s boys’ cross-country team ruled the Prep League with unprecedented dominance.
But on Saturday afternoon, a new king was crowned, as archrival Pasadena Poly ended Flintridge Prep’s dynastic tradition, running past the Rebels by a 34-48 margin at the Prep League finals at Pierce College.
“It had to end sometime,” said Rebels Coach Ingrid Herskind, who was at the helm for the previous 12 titles. “The target’s finally off our back.”
Poly’s Wesley DeVoll won the race in a dominating 15 minutes 18.56 seconds to lead a parade of Panthers that saw Anaud Upad Hyaya take fourth (16:06.91) and their scoring five place in the top 13.
Poly won all three league meets this season, whereas in recent years, the Panthers had won early in the season only to see the Rebels rally at the finals. Last year, Prep nipped Poly, 34-35 for the title. This season, despite having lost the first two league meets, Prep finished third in last week’s Mount San Antonio College Invitational, with Poly taking fifth in the Division V Team Sweepstakes, giving hope for another such rally. But it wasn’t to be, something Herskind felt early on.
“Our victories have been getting smaller and smaller every year,” said Herskind, whose squad was led by the fourth-place finish of Jason Bunn (16:07.68). “We didn’t have a great race today. We ran well last week, we were kind of hoping that was bumping us up.
“I had a feeling today it wasn’t gonna go well.”
In contrast, the girls’ race went much as Rebels Coach Michael Roffina anticipated, with Prep taking third with 80 points behind first-place Chadwick (28), which had five runners in the top nine, and second-place Mayfield (38).
“We’re coming together,” Roffina said. “We have not had one race this season with the same varsity team. We’re settling in now.”
Prep was led by Dot Silverman, as the former Prep League individual champion finished fifth in 19:24.38, with Chadwick’s Jaye Buchbinder taking first in 18:34.89. Silverman finished second behind Buchbinder in the second league meet of the season.
“The good news is Dot’s not beating herself up about this, it’s just a race,” Roffina said. “She’ll be ready in two weeks. We haven’t seen Dot’s best race yet.”
In two weeks, both Rebels squads will take part in the CIF Southern Section Division V prelims. Roffina’s aspirations are continuing his team’s tradition of making it to the CIF-State Meet.
“I think our realistic expectation is we would certainly like to qualify for state,” he said.
Freshman Kaitlyn Kelleher was Prep’s No. 2 finisher, as her time of 20:02.43 was good enough for 11th.
“She has enormous potential,” Roffina said. “She’ll just get better and better.”
After that, Elise Partos took 19th in 21:46 with Sarah Randolph (22:20.53) and Alex Hubert (22:22.27) finishing 22nd and 23rd, respectively.
Midway through the boys’ race, quick scoring had the Rebels, Division V’s second-ranked team, trailing the fourth-ranked Panthers, 34-38, but the tide changed in Poly’s favor drastically.
“We don’t have that depth we usually have,” Herskind said.
Kevin Heintz finished sixth in 16:19.03, Jessie Redding was 11th in 17:03.60, Taylor Beith was 12th in 17:05.02 and Omar Martin was 15th in 17:36.45.
For Herskind and Co., just like Roffina’s troops, there’s still plenty more opportunity this season.
“Now we have four weeks and we have some good solid stuff coming up,” Herskind said. “It’s over, so let’s just figure out what’s the future for the program. I knew this was coming some day, it always does right?”