Spartans back on top

Cross-Country: La Cañada girls get revenge and take Rio Hondo League title from South Pasadena, while boys finish third.

November 03, 2011|By Andrew J. Campa,

SAN MARINO — It isn’t often that finishing second earns a louder and more elated cheer than taking first.

However, after the conclusion of Thursday afternoon’s Rio Hondo League cross-country finals, La Cañada High’s Sonja Cwik couldn’t help but holler a bit before hugging teammates.

That’s because the junior, who finished second individually, led the Spartans’ reconquest of the Rio Hondo League title as La Cañada defeated defending league champion South Pasadena, 32-37.


“I’m just really happy and am so excited. That’s the whole point of cross-country and running, that your team does well,” said Cwik, who finished in a time of 18 minutes, 38.4 seconds.

Cwik was simultaneously locked in a battle for the individual league title with South Pasadena sophomore Helena Van Loan, while also trying to lead her squad.

So, Cwik started quickly and took a lead over Van Loan and Monrovia’s Amanda Mansoorbakht through the first mile.

It wasn’t until a mile and a half into the race that Van Loan surged ahead to take control.

“I went faster than my actual pace because Sonja pushed it the first mile,” Van Loan said. “I was with her early and then I took it from there.”

Both girls separated from the pack at the race midway point before Van Loan extended her lead to 10 seconds at the two-mile mark and eventually cruised to a win in 18:20.

La Cañada, ranked ninth in Division III of the CIF Southern Section, and 11th-ranked South Pasadena alternated positions through the first six spots with junior Anna Frederich taking fourth (19:07.9) and freshman Coleen Mispagel earning sixth (19:18.1).

Senior Meghan Fuelling then finished eighth (19:23.0) as La Cañada’s fourth runner, ahead of South Pasadena’s fourth girl, Kaylee Anderson (10th, 19:36.6).

The win wasn’t secured, however, until Spartans junior Hannah Yoho finished 12th (20:02.0), well ahead of South Pasadena’s final scorer Remeny White (18th, 20:56.2).

“The girls have been working and training hard all year long, they deserve this. They’ve earned this,” La Cañada Coach Jenn Strople said. “The girls became more mentally tough as the season continued. They knew what they had to do to win today and they ran a great race.”

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