LA CRESCENTA — For the first time in four seasons, Stephanie Vargas is completely healthy.
It's been tough sledding for Vargas during most of her first three seasons competing on the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy cross-country team, as she's been hampered by numerous leg and foot problems. In her final season with the Tologs, however, things couldn't be going any better.
Vargas showed she can compete with an elite field, as she clocked 19 minutes 47 seconds on the three-mile course to place fourth at the Mission League final at Crescenta Valley Park on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's nice to be able to run one of my best times without getting hurt or being injured," said Vargas, who helped the Tologs finish third in the meet with 51 points and take third overall in league while earning a trip to the CIF Southern Section Division IV prelims at Mount San Antonio College on Nov. 12. "I can tell I'm running better because I have the stamina to allow me to run longer and faster.
"I'm pretty happy with the way I've been running lately. I know this course better than the back of my hand."
In the boys' competition, St. Francis got an eighth-place finish from Collin Peterson (16:21), but the Golden Knights placed fifth on Wednesday with 116 points. St. Francis finished its season sixth in league and will not qualify for the prelims for the first time in more than a decade.
Flintridge Sacred Heart, ranked 10th in the latest CIF division poll, received a fifth-place finish from Riley Gilmartin (20:07) and a seventh-place performance from Maddie Peterson (20:24). Vargas, Gilmartin and Peterson all earned all-league accolades.
Cami Chapus of Harvard-Westlake won the race in 18:02, besting teammate Amy Weissenbach (19:23). Mermel Kazia of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame placed third (19:42). Harvard-Westlake, which had already locked up the league championship, won the meet with 36 points. Notre Dame took second with 45 points.
The Tologs got a 12th-place finish from Paulina Antaplyan (20:52), who was followed by Annie MaGuire (23rd, 22:10), Hanna Armendanz (26th, 22:31) and Nora Welsh (27th, 38:00). Antaplyan participated in her first race since suffering a knee injury about a month ago during a practice.
"I'm happy that Stephanie finished in the top four despite the conditions not being all that good with her allergies," said Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Kirk Nishiyama, whose team finished second in league last season before grabbing third place at the Division IV State Meet last season in Fresno. "For Paulina, it was her first race back.
"We had some good races from Riley and Maddie, too. I think we will be fine. We have a history of coming together at the right time."
In the boys' meet, Harvard-Westlake's Aaron de Toledo won in 15:38. Loyola, which earlier won the league title, won the meet with 21 points, followed by Crespi (73 points), Harvard-Westlake (83) and Alemany (115).
Despite battling hot temperatures, Collin Peterson received all-league honors.
"I wanted to go out there and get a top-10 finish," Peterson said. "It was a little hot, but I'm happy with my overall race.
"I just had to go out there and compete. I wish the team could have done a little better, but we can't complain about that."
Also finishing for St. Francis, which took fourth in last season's league final, were Andrew Evans (16th, 17:18), Max Sinclair (26th, 17:42), Lance Bird (32nd, 17:57), Robby Palmer (34th, 18:03), Nick Sanchez (35th, 18:11) and J.D. Kieffer (40th, 18:55).
St. Francis Coach Pat Donovan said it proved to be a rebuilding year.
"I'm happy with how our guys raced," Donovan said. "We had our best race all season, but it was too much of a gap to close in order to make the postseason."