Spartans teams unable to advance

La Cañada High girls' cross-country Coach Andy DiConti believes running is the most mentally demanding sport.

It was this mental aspect of the sport that likely hindered his team in the CIF Southern Section Division III preliminary race at Mount San Antonio on Saturday.

"There were definitely some mental and emotional obstacles," DiConti said. "Physically, I knew we had it, but cross-country is such a mental sport."

Both La Cañada teams needed to place in the top five, or have the sixth-fastest team time, to advance to the CIF finals. But neither the boys' or the girls' teams were able to meet their goal. The Spartans boys' squad finished in eighth place and the girls' squad finished ninth in Division III races.

Woodbridge placed first in the Division III girls' race with 51 points and a team time of 1 minute 36:19 seconds. Agoura (85; 1:39:32), Oak Park (86; 1:39:26), La Mirada (93; 1:39:02), West Torrance (115; 1:40:48) and South Hills (166; 1:42:56) were the other five teams that advanced.

"We were way out of it," said DiConti, who watched his team place ninth out of 17 teams with 218 points and a time of 1:44:56. "We lost to teams that shouldn't have even been close to us. I knew we had an outside chance to make it, but we never really gelled as a team completely to reach our potential."

Anna Frederich finished first for the Spartans again, finishing 12th with a time of 19:36. Hannah Yoho, a sophomore was second, running the course in 21:02 to finish 44th. Courtney Schulte was four seconds behind (45th; 21:06) and rounding out La Cañada's top five were Meghan Fuelling (60th; 21:36) and Holly Shreckengast (61st; 21:36).

On paper, DiConti's team looked like it had a chance to advance to the finals, but there is more to running than what's on paper, he said.

"We never got all five parts together at once all year long," DiConti said. "I knew it would be tough to get that fifth spot, but I had to believe we had that chance. Of course, it all had to line up perfectly; we just have to move on."

La Cañada's boys' team placed eighth out of 15 teams with 177 points and a time of 1:24:25. Golden Valley (46; 1:20:02), St. John Bosco (103; 1:22:05), Cabrillo (107; 1:22:22), San Luis Obispo (121; 1:22:32), St. Francis (123; 1:22:50) and Buena Park (133; 1:23:06) all advanced.

"I know there was some disappointment for those senior boys," DiConti said. "I know they would have liked to go on."

Andrew Fisher placed highest for La Cañada at 16th in 16:14. Adam Skaggs (23rd; 16:31), Erick Lankey (34th; 16:49), Brendan Greene (52nd; 17:16) and Thomas Han (62nd; 17:35) all finished.

"It's kind of disappointing," DiConti said. "We had the team on paper to go very far but there are those variables that don't always mesh and pan out the way you want them to."

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