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La Cañada High girls' team hopes for magical repeat

Spartans and Rebels are preparing for repeat runs to state, while Flintridge Sacred Heart is looking to return to Fresno after a one-year hiatus.

September 04, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • La Canada High's Anna Frederich is looking to lead the Spartans to another Rio Hondo League championship and a return trip to the CIF State Cross-Country Finals in Fresno. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
La Canada High's Anna Frederich is looking to lead…

LA CAÑADA — While the city of La Cañada only includes three girls’ programs, an argument could be made that the hotbed of area girls’ cross-country activity was none other than the Foothill (210) Freeway hamlet.

La Cañada High, Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy all advanced deep into the postseason with perhaps the Spartans having the most successful of seasons.

La Cañada not only captured its second straight Rio Hondo League title, but the Spartans also boasted the league’s individual champion in senior Sonja Cwik, who dethroned then-reigning All-Area Runner of the Year Helena Van Loan of South Pasadena High.

Yet, that was only the start, as La Cañada advanced to and past the CIF Southern Section Division III prelims before grabbing seventh place at the divisional finals.

The Spartans finished with 217 points, just ahead of Granite Hills (218) in claiming the division’s final qualifying spot to the CIF State Meet, which marked the program’s first advancement to the state finals in Fresno for the first time in at least a decade.

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La Cañada capped its magical season by taking 11th at state.

“I can’t lie. Last year was an absolutely amazing season, one of the best in years, since at least I was in high school,” said Spartans Coach Jenn Strople, the All-Area Coach of the Year. “I know it’s going to be difficult to get back to state and enjoy the same success last year, but this is a team that can do that.”

If there’s an area of concern for the Spartans, it has to do with the graduation Cwik.

“You can’t replace a runner like Sonja,” Strople said, “but I think [Anna] Frederich can be an excellent leader this year.”

The senior finished fourth (18 minutes 41 seconds) at league finals, before earning 10th (17:17) at divisional finals and 18th (18:49) at state.

Besides Frederich, the Spartans also return a talent in junior Colleen Mispagel, the Rio Hondo League runner-up (18:31), and senior Eloise Dimase-Nordlin (13th in league in 20:17), who form a solid one-through-three front for the Spartans.

“We have a few girls that we’re looking to fill our four through seven for us,” Strople said. “It’s too early to say who that will be, but we have options.”

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