La Cañada High's Anna Frederich takes 1st in 1st Rio Hondo League meet

IRWINDALE — Unexpected delays, last-minute changes and a brand new course provided the backdrop for what was a wild and unpredictable afternoon at the Rio Hondo League’s first cross-country meet at Santa Fe Dam.

La Cañada High, which had hoped to flex its muscles on the girls’ side and show signs of improvement in regards to the boys’ team, was overshadowed by a historic effort from rival San Marino, which won both varsity races for the first time in more than two decades on Wednesday afternoon.

The Titans defeated the Spartans, 35-39, in the girls’ race, while San Marino finished with 33 points on the boys’ side, well ahead of the fourth-place effort of La Cañada.

“Our goal was to win this race or, at worst, finish top two,” Spartans junior Colleen Mispagel said. “This course is flat, but there is sand on some parts, concrete on others and grass. It took a while to get used to.”

Maybe the flashiest race was the girls’ varsity contest, which featured 2012 CIF State Division III finalist La Cañada and CIF Southern Section Division IV No. 6-ranked San Marino.

Despite the drama surrounding the scoring, there was no question that Spartans senior Anna Frederich was the best runner Wednesday.

The All-Area first-teamer was untouchable, racing to a 25-second lead over Mispagel at the halfway point before steadily increasing her lead over the sand and concrete portion of the course.

By the time Frederich zipped by the finish line in a time of 18 minutes, 6.84 seconds, she had built up over a minute lead against runner-up Alissa Barraza of San Marino (19:15.54).

“I kinda had an idea that I had a big lead because I heard fans from South Pasadena saying ‘You’re out ahead’ and ‘You’ve got a huge lead,’ so I kept going,” Frederich said. “I didn’t really have a goal time-wise, I just wanted to win.”

Mispagel finished fourth in 19:29, while senior Eloise Dimase-Nordling was 10th in 20:32.12, just a spot ahead of Jenny Callan (11th, 20:36.53).

La Cañada’s final scorer was freshman Caitlin Mispagel, who was 16th in 21:07.14.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Titans pushed their five scorers through first 14 spots.

“This is a difficult course, but we had fun out there and the scenery was majestic,” Frederich said. “We have two more races to continue to improve.”

South Pasadena finished third with 46 points.

As for the boys’ side, the Spartans were well aware of the difficulties of competing in a race with Division III stalwart South Pasadena and Division IV sixth-ranked San Marino.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Spartans finished fourth in league with 103 points, behind San Marino (33), South Pasadena (38) and Temple City (80).

Despite the team finish, Spartans junior Ethan Angold shined in reaching fourth place at the midway point of his race and remaining there until the finish line in a time of 16:35.78.

“This was and wasn’t a new course for us. We came down here for the [Bosco Tech Invitational] earlier this month and some of us got a chance to race it and some didn’t,” Angold said. “I didn’t, but I at least got to see the course and now I can say that this is a difficult course.”

La Cañada’s next highest finisher was senior Justin Michel, who was 22nd in 18:25.64.

Despite contending with the course, which hadn’t been used before in Rio Hondo League racing, Wednesday’s runners were thrown a different challenge when they arrived to see the Camino Del Rey Association was hosting its first league meet at the exact same time.

Rio Hondo League races that were originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. were pushed back to 4:15 to accommodate the Camino Real and Del Rey leagues.

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