HomeBlocksFront-GridLCHS Girls’ Varsity Wins League; Boys Are 2nd

LCHS Girls’ Varsity Wins League; Boys Are 2nd

First published in the April 28 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

One year after the La Canada High School girls’ track team ended a three-decade drought to defeat South Pasadena for the Rio Hondo League championship, the two undefeated squads met last Wednesday at the Tigers’ home field to contend for the title once again.
In a contest that lived up to its hype, the meet came down to the final event — the 4 x 400 relay — with the Spartans scoring a come-from-behind win to earn the meet’s final five points and a 65-62 victory.
The Spartan girls’ frosh-soph team notched an identical 65-62 win over the Tigers, running their season record to 6-0 and marking the first time in school history that both girls’ squads claimed Rio Hondo League titles in the same season.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the teams for pulling off two amazing wins,” said Spartan girls’ head coach Chris Matarese, who saw his team’s varsity win streak extended to 16 meets. “It took some huge upsets, some PRs, and a total team effort to get the victories. Both frosh-soph and varsity were incredibly close, and literally every point counted.”
Like the girls, the Spartan boys’ varsity and frosh-soph teams came into the meet undefeated and competing for league titles. Unlike the girls, the boys were unable to capitalize on some stellar performances — led by senior sprint captain Zain Bangash, who turned in one of the fastest 100/200 doubles in school history — and came up short. The LCHS varsity lost, 70-57, and the frosh-soph was overmatched in a 104-21 setback.
“The boys’ varsity came into the meet with the best chance of beating South Pas in years,” said head coach Andy Rodemich, “but injuries and missed opportunities did us in. I’m proud of our team for our effort, and I’m looking forward to a rematch next year on our home turf.”

The girls’ varsity effort was led by sophomore star Arielle McKenzie, who completed a quadruple rarely seen in track: wins in the 1600 (5:06.60), 400 (58.34), 800 (2:18.97) and 200 (27.12), in that order. Her win in the 200 was unexpected, secured when the Tigers’ defending league champion in the event, Lyla Keller, was disqualified for a blocks infraction.
“I’ve never seen that quadruple anywhere, anytime, by anyone,” said girls assistant coach Pete Magill. “Arielle displayed a combination of endurance and speed that is — no exaggeration — mind-blowing. South Pasadena had good runners in all those events, and Arielle knocked them down like ducks in a shooting gallery.”
Meanwhile, freshman Katie McGuinness provided the second half of the one-two punch that secured the Spartan win. McGuinness began her day running the second leg of the Spartans’ 4×100 relay squad, joining Olivia Toland, Grace Paton and Brittany Rivas to win in 51.09. McGuinness also scored the biggest upset of the day, long-jumping a personal record (PR) 16’10” to defeat the Tigers’ Zoe Tibbo, a transfer athlete who was the 2021 L.A. City Section champion. McGuinness closed out her scoring with a win in the high jump (4’10”) and third in the 100 (12.95).
The Spartans’ other individual event winner was senior Brooke Gilchrest, whose PR of 30’1.5” in the shot put was good enough for a surprise first-place finish.
Picking up second-place points for the Spartans were Katelyn Matarese in the 1600 (5:06.72) and 800 (2:20.18), Rivas in the 100 hurdles (17.01) and 300 hurdles (50.33), Paton in the 400 (61.22); and Mia DiConti in the pole vault (9’6”). Chiara Matuska took third in the pole vault (5’).
Those performances gave the Spartans 60 points, two behind the Tigers, heading into the 4×400 relay. Rivas and Matarese split 61 seconds each for legs one and two, handing the baton to Yasmin Ghaneh with a one-meter lead. That’s when Ghaneh turned on the afterburners, splitting 62 seconds to give anchor Paton a five-second lead. Paton ran a 62-second victory lap, crossing the finish line to be instantly enveloped by the entire Spartan squad. The celebration was on.

The Spartans frosh-soph capitalized on wins in nine out of 10 running events to score their first-ever victory over the Tigers.
Kaitlyn Creighton was a high-point scorer for the Spartans, notching wins in the 100 (PR 13.40), 100 hurdles (18.42), 300 hurdles (52.73), and taking second place in the long jump (14’10”).
Julia Sada came through with wins in the 400 (63.79) and 200 (28.38), as well as anchoring the winning 4×400 relay (4:30.53), a team that included Kelly Sellman, Angie Velo and Samantha Neumeier. The Spartans’ other double-winner was Kaoru Saito, who took the 800 (2:36.41) and 3200 (12.29.08). Neumeier won the 1600 (5:36.34).
The strength of this year’s Spartan boys’ varsity squad has been the sprints, and it was no different against South Pasadena.
Bangash, who four days earlier tied the LCHS record for 100 meters with an 11.08, ran 10.97 this time (a 2.3 mph tailwind made it ineligible for record consideration). He followed that win with a 22.71 PR victory in the 200. And he started his day on the winning 4×100 relay (43.50), leading off for a squad that included Mentoa McKenzie, Ulee Day and Corey Cheung. McKenzie completed the Spartan sprint sweep, taking the 400 in 51.70.
Ulee Day PR’d by more than a foot to win the long jump at 19’9.5”. Second place went to Tyler Callahan (18’9”). Joven Torres went 38’5” in the triple jump, good for second place.
The Spartans’ final win came in the 4×400 relay, with Sam Parks, Jamie Sauders, Ethan Lee and McKenzie running 3:31.78 to edge South Pasadena by a half-second.

Eric Sentoso scored the sole La Cañada win in the long jump for the Spartans’ frosh-soph squad, going a PR 18’0”.

Next up for all levels of the Spartans track team are the Rio Hondo League Finals, scheduled for Friday, April 29, at South Pasadena High School. Field events begin at 5 p.m. and running events start at 6 p.m.


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