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Flintridge Prep cross-country hopes to run down title

Rebels just missed out in 2012 and are in the hunt for a state crown, while St. Francis and La Cañada are poised to improve.

September 04, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • Flintridge Prep's lead runners of Alan Yoho, left, Nikhil Poole, in purple shirt, and Jack Van Scoter, in the front, run along Foothill Boulevard during practice in La Canada on Thursday. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Flintridge Prep's lead runners of Alan Yoho, left,…

LA CAÑADA — In one sense, 2012 was a wildly successful year for the Flintridge Prep boys’ cross-country team, which won yet another Prep League championship and advanced all the way to state as per usual.

However, in the same breath it could be argued that this past season was also bittersweet, as the Rebels finished runner-up to St. Margaret’s, 46-61, at the CIF Southern Section Division V finals only to crush St. Margaret’s at the following week’s CIF State Championships, but ultimately take silver to St. Joseph Notre Dame, 86-87.

“Sure, you’re disappointed that you came up a point short, but you can’t be disappointed by the year,” said Rebels Coach Ingrid Herskind, the reigning All-Area Coach of the Year.

Whether or not Flintridge Prep can match or surpass 2012 will be largely dependent on a young group of athletes, as the Rebels graduated four of their seven runners from state, including the one-two punch of Elias Ellison (eighth, 16:10) and Aaron Sugimoto (ninth, 16:16), the team’s top two finishers at state last year.

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Yet, even with the graduation, Herskind isn’t concerned, at least at the front of the pack, as the trio of sophomore Jack Van Scoter (10th at state in 16:19), senior Alan Yoho (22nd at state in 16:36) and senior Tyler Fong (38th at state in 16:59) slide over into the leadership role.

“We have three strong runners up front who are more than ready to lead this young team,” said Herskind, whose two-tier program of 30 runners is made up of 21 underclassmen. “It’s after those three where it gets interesting.”

Some of the jockeying for position on varsity will likely include junior Alex Orloff, sophomore Nihkil Poole and freshman Riley Coan.

The Rebels enter this season top-ranked in the CIF Southern Section Division V polls, while dyestatcal.com ranked the Rebels No. 1 in Division V in all of Southern California and fourth in state.

While Flintridge Prep had representation at last year’s CIF preliminaries, St. Francis did not, which troubled Golden Knights seventh-year Coach Pat Donovan.

“We’ve missed the prelims meet the last two years after being there like 10 straight years,” Donovan said, “so our goal is obviously to get back.”

If the Golden Knights do reach the postseason, then it will likely be on the heels of sophomore Chris Rodriguez.

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