First published in the Sept. 30 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
The familiar colors of the Rio Hondo League assembled in Lacy Park last Thursday afternoon for the first cross-country meeting of the school year, with host San Marino High School athletes establishing themselves among the the serious contenders.
Despite a thinner roster than other years, San Marino’s varsity girls displayed quality, pushing league stalwarts La Cañada and South Pasadena to the tape for a third-place finish.
Meanwhile, the boys’ varsity squad employed the prowess of three sophomores to finish just one place behind South Pasadena and solidly ahead of the remainder of the competitors.
In high school cross-country races, each school is allowed to send a maximum of seven runners to the starting line. The five fastest times are combined to calculate a team score.
Once again, San Marino’s dynamic female duo of freshman Kayla Giddings and senior Anya Tang were able to stay with the lead pack, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively. Giddings (fourth place, 18:57) enjoyed her first official tour of the home course while Tang (sixth place, 19:10) also hung with the leaders on an unseasonably cool afternoon. Freshman Eve Rios (10th place, 22:54), junior Katelyn Hansa (21st, 23:09), sophomore Sasha Redshaw (23rd, 23:44) and juniors Janelle Heimerl and Alyson Garcia rounded out the Lady Titans’ entry on their home course.
“Kayla and Anya ran well,” said head coach Angus Leung. “We are working on our depth right now but I am happy with a third place finish.”
Sophomores Benjamin Hughes (third place, 16:59), Neil Chen (fourth place, 16:59) and Thai Villaluna (eighth place, 17:19) paced the varsity boys to a runner-up finish, just 10 places behind meet winner South Pasadena.
Senior Gavin O’Malley (13th, 17:48), junior Ryan Toh, (18th, 18:22), senior Ethan Foong (16th, 19:06) and junior Chase Nielson (30th, 20:21) also contributed to the Titans’ second-place finish.
“It was nice to finish in second; now the next step is to go for the championship,” said Leung. “But I like the direction the program is going right now.”
San Marino’s boys’ junior varsity team placed third behind South Pasadena and Temple City. Senior Lucas Levy finished in sixth place, traversing the familiar three-mile course in 20:01. Junior Christopher Jang was a place behind (seventh, 20:02), with Jack Ye checking in at 11th place in a time of 20:16. Senior Jim Wang finished 12th with a clocking of of 20:21 and senior Michael Yuratich finished 13th with a time of 20:23.
The boys’ future looks bright as the Titans’ frosh-soph squad finished behind South Pasadena in a crowded field. Freshman Ession Gagnon was runner-up in the race, finishing in a time of 19:06. Classmate Taylor Tan was close behind, finishing third in 19:08, with sophomore Harrison Walker (11th in 20:48), freshman Howard Chen (16th, 21:29), freshman Jack Leizman (19th, 21:47), freshman Sam Xia (20th, 21:50) and freshman Jeremy Karkafi (23rd, 22:06) closing the show for San Marino.
Rio Hondo League runners will come together again on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 3:30 p.m. at Crescenta Valley Park in La Crescenta for the second league meet. Runners will come back to Lacy Park on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 1:30 p.m. for the Rio Hondo League finals.