First published in the Sept. 22 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The Woodbridge Invitational is one of the largest and most prestigious cross-country invitationals in the nation, hosting almost 15,000 runners from over 1,000 schools. The La Cañada High School girls and St. Francis High School boys’ teams both qualified for the highly competitive Rated Division, which featured elite schools from across the country.
The 2021 state runner-up LCHS girls team finished a close second, sandwiched between national powerhouses Orem High from Utah (which finished first) and Southlake Carroll from Texas, which placed third. Only one other Southern California Section team, perineal powerhouse Great Oak, finished in the top 10.
Maya DeBrouwer and Katelyn Matarese again provided a fantastic 1-2 punch for the Spartans, as they finished third and seventh in the race. DeBrouwer finished the 3-mile course in 16 minutes, 42 seconds while Matarese just missed breaking the 17-minute mark with a 17:00.01 time. DeBrouwer’s meteoric rise this year is really making the difference for the very strong La Cañada squad. First-year sensation Charlotte Hopkins finished 20th with her finest career effort, while senior captain Cat Mispagel and another freshman star, Haloe Ball, took the fourth and fifth scoring spots for the Spartans. Kaoru Saito and Yasmin Ghaneh continued building on their great track seasons with solid finishes.
St. Francis took seventh out of 40 top schools, finishing one place ahead of defending national champion Newbury Park, in the Boys’ Rated Division race. Hayden Owen led the Golden Knights with 11th place and a sub-15 minute 14:42 finish. Rising superstar Luke Metcalf managed a 51st place finish in 15:15 despite a recent injury. Samuel Franco was right behind in 54th, while Aiden Guzman and Axel Gonzalez completed the scoring quintet in 105th and 168th places, respectively. Noe Baraz and Auge Martin also had strong races crossing the line two seconds apart in 178th and 181st place, over two minutes and 100 places ahead of the race’s final finishers.
The La Cañada boys’ team, guided by coach Andy Rodemich, continued its excellent season taking fourth in its varsity race that had 35 schools and almost 250 runners. Senior Max Smith led the way for the Spartans with a very strong 25th place finish in 15:40. He was followed closely by Robert Lee in 31st. George Hervey and Siraaj Sanhu continued their strong showings, crossing the line almost together in 47th and 49th. Jamie Saunders finished the scoring with an 80th place showing. Andres Uribe and Sam Smookler also put up strong showings to round out the La Cañada team.
In lower divisions, Caroline Gill won the girls’ junior varsity race in 19:22, while Amy Kiang, Lisa Kiang, and Brittaney Rivas all finished close behind Caroline to earn a total of four JV medals for the La Cañada harriers. Caroline also took home a prized Woodbridge backpack that goes to all race champions. The La Cañada and St. Francis boys all had numerous runners put up personal bests in their non-varsity races. LCHS freshmen Will Drobis, Mateo Rose, Connor Chung and Parker Weightman all had particularly strong finished for the young and deep Spartans squad.
The strong Woodbridge results show that all three of the La Cañada Flintridge-based teams are poised to compete for league and CIF Southern Section titles and make deep state championship runs.