The St. Francis boys cross country team dominated over the final mile of Mt. San Antonio College’s three mile rain course at Saturday’s CIF Southern Section championships, surging ahead of JSerra to win the Division 4 team title, the second straight divisional title for the Golden Knights, who also won the state championship last year.
The CIF-SS decided to use Mt. SAC’s rain course instead of the iconic hilly course that includes the “switchbacks” and “poop out hill” due to the threat of rain, but the rain never came and Saturday’s times were impressive over the more flat course that saw athletes finishing the home stretch in Mt. SAC’s Hilmer Lodge Stadium.
St. Francis’ Sam Franco was the Golden Knights’ big runner, finishing sixth overall in 14:39.8 as the Golden Knights finished with 82 points to defeat JSerra with 119.
St. Francis’ Auge Martin (14:54.3), Aidan Guzman (15:03.2), Luke Metcalf (15:04.7) and Axel Gonzalez (15:19.6) all finished in the top 30 to help them repeat as champions.
St. Francis and several teams and individuals will continue at next week’s CIF state championships at Woodward Park In Fresno.
Franco said the new course gave them some concerns.
“Today we were a little nervous on the new course, it wasn’t in our favor that we switched courses,” Franco said. “But you can’t change those things so we rolled with it and did our best.”
“We do so many miles together that we’re a brotherhood. We know what we have to do to help our brothers succeed. The first mile was a little slow, but the last mile we gave it our all. We ran with heart and we ran on empty. We did all we could to get this.”
South Pasadena’s Keeran Murray finished 13th in the Division 4 race in 14:53.6 to punch a ticket to the state finals.
In one of the big girls races of the day, South Pasadena’s Abigail Errington broke from a small group that included La Canada’s Maya DeBrouwer to finish second overall in the Division 4 finals. The Tigers finished third as a team with La Canada finishing fifth, sending both teams to next week’s state championships.
Nobody was going to catch Oak’s Christian’s speedy Payton Godsey, the favorite who won in 16:12.7, but Errington knew the race for second would be hotly contested, finishing in 16:28.6.
“My goal today was to finish second, I just put myself in a good position from the very start,” Errington said. “I was so close to these girls in times I had a feeling it would come down to a kick, so I wanted to make sure I set up the race to have a good finish and I did that.”
La Canada’s Maya DeBrouwer was sixth overall in 16:55.0. Errington’s teammate Saidbh Byrne also ran well, finishing ninth in 17:35.5. Bishop Amat’s Sophia Ebiner finished 10th at 17:36.1 to reach state.
Arcadia’s Reena Hsieh turned in one of the area’s best marks, finishing fourth in the Division 1 finals in 16:33.3. Hsieh is also headed to state.
Glendora’s Dylan Flores paced the Tartans in the Division 2 boys finals, finishing sixth overall in 14.29.1 to help send the Tartans to the state finals. The Tartans finished fourth overall. Mathias Oliveros was the Tartans’ next best finisher, 21st in 14:46.9.
Rowland’s Jarron Chua qualified for state with one of the best area marks of the day, finishing 10th in the Division 3 finals in 14:44.3
St. Lucy’s girls finished third in Division 5 to reach the podium and cash its ticket to state.
Kate Burns was their top finisher, crossing 7th overall in 18:39.2 with Lilly Sepulveda 12th at 19:13.9.
In the Division 3 girls final, West Covina’s Becky Osorio finished sixth overall in 17:24.3 and also will be going to Fresno.
Flintridge Prep qualified for the state meet finishing 7th in the Division 5 boys race.
The Wolves’ Declan Mansbridge was their top finisher at 24th overall in 15:58.2