Spartans Fare Well Against League Opponents

First published in the Oct. 21 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The La Cañada High School cross-country team won the varsity girls race and nearly scored an upset in varsity boys competition at last Thursday’s Rio Hondo League cluster meet, held in Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park.
The LCHS girls scored 24 points to runner-up South Pasadena’s 48 (in cross-country, low score wins) while the boys were edged by South Pasadena, 37-45. The league’s other four schools — San Marino, Temple City, Monrovia, and Blair — also competed.
The Spartan varsity girls were led by sophomore Arielle McKenzie’s first-place finish. McKenzie ran alongside South Pasadena’s Sydney Morrow for the first two miles of the three-mile road and trail course. At the start of mile three, McKenzie turned on the jets, pulling away to win by 36 seconds, running 17:47. LCHS teammates Katelyn Matarese and Catherine Mispagel finished third and fourth in 18:32 and 18:37, respectively. Freshman Maya DeBrouwer was sixth in 18:50, with senior captain Jenna Milbrodt 10th in 19:17. Caitlin Roehmholdt and Caroline Gill ran 11th and 13th.
“While Arielle is a super talent whom we expect to place well at every meet,” said girls Head Coach Chris Matarese, “it’s great to see the rest of our varsity pack coming together. All seven of our runners finished before any other team’s fourth runner crossed the line.”
The win, coupled with the Spartan girls’ victory in the first league cluster meet, guarantees them at least a share of the league title. They are currently ranked second in CIF Southern Section Division 4 and third in CIF State Division 4.
In the boys’ varsity meet, La Cañada’s Max Smith challenged for the win until the final straightaway, settling for second place in 16:30. While South Pasadena had three of the top four finishers, the Spartans managed to place six runners ahead of the Tigers’ fifth man. Robert Lee took sixth place for the Spartans in 16:47, Ethan Lee finished 10th in 16:56, and Arya Ghaneh, Jamie Saunders, and George Branda ran 13-14-15, nearly pulling off the upset over favored South Pasadena. Siraaj Sandhu, in 20th, was the Spartans final varsity runner.
“Our boys’ varsity continues to improve in both their times and ability to race as a team,” said boys’ head coach Andy Rodemich. “This was the closest we’ve come to South Pasadena in a race this year. I see us continuing to improve and to be in the hunt for victory at the final league meet — league finals at [San Marino’s] Lacy Park in three weeks.”
La Cañada’s girls’ JV continued their league winning streak by beating runner-up South Pasadena in a nail biter, 26-29. Behind in scoring after two miles, the Spartans needed a come-from-behind effort from their third and fourth runners, Kaoru Saito and Kelly Sellman, to overcome the Tigers and secure the victory. For LCHS, Yasmin Ghaneh notched her first win of the season, running 20:14 to easily outdistance South Pasadena’s top two runners. Sophia Ponce was fourth in 21:05. Saito and Sellman finished fifth and sixth, in 21:11 and 21:22, respectively. And Ria Mandal ran 23:34 for 10th and the Spartans’ final scoring place.
La Cañada’s boys’ JV lacked the requisite five runners for a team score. Individually, Aditya Sehgal was the Spartans’ top finisher, nabbing third place in 18:37.
In boys’ frosh-soph, La Cañada finished third. Andres Uribe placed third in the race, running a three-mile personal record of 18:42. George Hervey was seventh in 19:16. Luke Schaedel, Leo Krinsky, and Sebastian Markmann ran 18-19-20, respectively, to finish the Spartan scoring.
The Spartans travel this Friday to the Mt. SAC invitational in Walnut, where more than 400 schools will compete during the two-day meet. The LCHS girls’ varsity is entered in Friday’s Girls Sweepstakes Race, scheduled for 5:13 p.m., which features California’s top teams from CIF Divisions 3, 4, and 5. The Spartans’ other squads’ race schedule: boys’ frosh, 3:53 p.m.; boys’ varsity, 4:18; boys’ soph, 4:41; girls’ JV, 4:50; and boys’ JV, 5:04 p.m.