La Canada cross-country left with one option

SAN MARINO — What does one soggy, lightning-filled afternoon in mid-October have to do with early November?

Evidently everything for both the La Cañada High boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams and the rest of the Rio Hondo League.

All parties involved waited an hour and fifteen minutes as thunderclaps came and went before Thursday afternoon’s first Rio Hondo League cross-country meet at Lacy Park in San Marino was called off due to safety precautions.

With the cancellation of Thursday’s meet and no other previous league races this season, the league championship and CIF Southern Section postseason seedings will all come down to the Rio Hondo League Finals back at Lacy Park on Thursday, Nov. 1.

“The lightning is the only thing that kept us from running,” La Cañada girls Coach Jenn Strople said. “A little rain doesn’t hurt anyone, but we decided to cancel this one just to be sure.”

The Rio Hondo League’s break with tradition also has to do with the winner-take-all championship as the league coaches scheduled two races this season in comparison to the normal three ran in past years.

Despite the new circumstances, Strople noted league finals will be just as significant as it’s always been.

“All of our training is geared toward peaking at the end of the season anyway,” she said. “Having waited, hopefully all the athletes will be peaking at the right time.”

While there was some disappointment throughout other camps, the rain may have been a damp blessing for La Cañada, given that Spartans’ top runner Sonja Cwik was in jeans and was going to be held out due to sickness.

“She was not going to run today, so I guess everything works out for a reason,” Strople said. “She was under the weather with the flu, so we got a break.”

Cwik helped the Spartans recapture the league championship away from South Pasadena, 32-37, at last year’s final at Lacy Park and may be La Cañada’s best individual challenger to reigning league champion Helena Van Loan of South Pasadena.

Cwik finished second in 18 minutes, 38.4 seconds to Van Loan, who won in 18:20.

Not everyone, however, was elated with the cancellation.

“It’s hard to come out here, prepare, and not run,” Spartans senior Brandon Newquist said. “Everyone is a little sad, but I think everyone is a little happy too.”

Like the rest of his teammates, Newquist was unaware if there would be any competition until the junior varsity teams amassed at the starting line suddenly dispersed around 4:20 p.m.

“It was pretty chaotic, we were just kind of waiting on what was going to happen,” Newquist said. “We saw the JV boys and girls running and screaming that the race was canceled.”

Newquist, who finished 10th last season in 17:10.3, is hoping take over the lead this season for graduated Brendan Greene, who finished third in league last season in 15:50.4.

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