HomeBlocksFront-GridSt. Francis Secures Second Straight CIF Crown

St. Francis Secures Second Straight CIF Crown

The golden hour came just in time for the Golden Knights.
The St. Francis boys’ cross-country team returned to CIF Southern Section Cross Country Championships at Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday with the goal of defending their Division IV title.
With four runners finishing in the top 20 athletes, the Golden Knights repeated as CIF Division IV champions.
“I’m so proud of these guys and so proud of what they’ve accomplished,” St. Francis coach Pat Donovan said. “They came into it as their goal and wanted to show everybody we were the best Division IV team in the state and have all other guys chase us.”
Meanwhile, the La Cañada girls’ cross-country team and Flintridge Prep boys’ group punched their ticket to the CIF State Cross Country Championships, joining St. Francis in Fresno on Saturday hoping to make a mark among the state’s best racers.

It’s back-to-back CIF titles for the Golden Knights, finishing comfortably ahead of JSerra, 82-119.
Golden Knights senior Sam Franco was the top finisher for two-time Mission League champion St. Francis, crossing the finish line sixth in 14 minutes, 39.8 seconds.
“I think we really proved that we have gotten so much better,” said Franco, the Mission League individual champion. “We weren’t just a one-hit wonder. We worked really hard for this. This year, we all improved and we all PR’ed. All the work that we’ve done has really paid off. It’s really great to see that play out throughout the season.”
Changes were made to the course ahead of the finals as a safety precaution due to the rainy forecast. The previously hilly dirt course was swapped out for a 3-mile mostly flat and concrete one.
“Coming into the race, we weren’t too scared. It’s Mt. SAC,” Franco said. “It’s nothing new. It’s flat. We just didn’t want to get in our heads. Really, all we do is run, so that’s what you do. You just run. Run your race, don’t let other things affect you and do what you can for your team.”
St. Francis junior Auge Martin followed in 15th at 14:54.3, and junior Aidan Guzman (19th; 15:03.2), senior Luke Metcalf (20th; 15:04.7) and junior Axel Gonzalez (27th; 15:19.6) rounded out the scorers for the Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights now turn their focus to the CIF State Cross Country Championships held at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday, Nov. 25.
St. Francis will look to defend yet another title: the Division IV state crown.
“Having run the state meet the last three years, we’re not coming in as rookies anymore — we’re coming in as veterans,” Donovan said. “They know exactly what to do. We’ve talked a lot about race strategy. They’re not coming in intimidated like we were two years ago. They know that we’ve got a target on our backs and they’re willing to run away from that target.


The La Cañada girls cross country team qualified for the CIF State Cross Country Championships following a fifth place finish on Saturday Members competing at the CIF Southern Section Cross Country Championships were Kelly Sellman from left Tina Lin Yasmine Ghaneh Halo Ball Charlotte Hopkins Katelyn Matarese and Maya DeBrouwer Photo courtesy Diana Hernandez

The Spartans girls’ cross-country team once again qualified for the state championships with a fifth-place team finish in the Division IV race, led by junior Maya DeBrouwer, who came in sixth at 16:55. It was an unusual day for the junior, who said she started getting bad side stitches — a feeling she had never encountered since she started running in seventh grade.
“I just felt off my game today, but I know I’ll be back soon. I just have to keep working,” DeBrouwer said.
Injuries, as well as illness, had been an issue for the rest of the Rio Hondo League girls’ cross-country champions throughout the season, said La Cañada girls’ cross-country coach Chris Matarese, but qualifying for state was the ultimate goal for the Spartans, and they succeeded as one of the seven teams to secure a trip to Fresno.
“We’ve had a tough year — a lot of injuries, a lot of illnesses — but they’ve really worked hard to overcome a lot,” Matarese said. “We’ve had a couple of stars who have run really well and they keep improving.”
The La Cañada girls’ team scored 129 points to place fifth. Following DeBrouwer was sophomore Charlotte Hopkins at 19th in 17:57.5, senior Katelyn Matarese at 23rd in 18:13.8, senior Yasmine Ghaneh in 28th at 18:20.7, and sophomore Halo Ball at 57th in 19:32.5.
JSerra, the top-ranked team in the nation, won its third consecutive team title, scoring 31 points, and placing four runners in the top 10 finishers. Oaks Christian senior Payton Godsey was the individual winner, securing her third straight crown in 16:12.7.
A young Spartans boys’ team finished 15th overall in the Division IV race. La Cañada was paced by senior Jamie Saunders (56th; 15:49.2), and Spartans freshman Charles Matarese (69th; 16:03), senior George Hervey (72nd; 16:11), freshman Caden Ho (85th; 16:32.6) and sophomore Will Drobis (86th; 16:34.4) followed as scorers.
“I’m extremely proud of our team for mustering up the energy and the way that we ran last week to make it here today,” Spartans boys’ cross-country coach Andy Rodemich said. “We knew going into today that we probably weren’t going to make it [to state], but we just wanted to have a good showing and have a good time. And we’re preparing for our underclassmen to be able to be here for the next couple of years and make it to state next year.”

The Wolves boys’ cross-country team made the most of their first CIF finals since winning the Division V title back in 2019.
Flintridge Prep clinched the seventh and final qualifying spot for the state competition, scoring 174 in the boys’ Division V race.
The qualification was especially sweet for the group of seniors, who were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as freshmen, Flintridge Prep boys’ cross-country coach Scott Jung said.
“They barely even had a season,” said Jung, whose boys’ team captured the Prep League title in October. “None of the guys here have ever been to state before, so we’re really excited about that. We’re going to have fun [at state] and hopefully start a new tradition of going to state every year. That was our goal for the team this year, and I think we’re on our way to accomplishing that.”
Flintridge Prep sophomore Declan Mansbridge was the top finisher for the Wolves in 24th at 15:58.2. The rest of the scoring runners were senior Kevin Martinez (34th; 16:15.4), senior Leo McDonald (35th, 16:16.6), junior Carter Sakai (51st, 16:33.8) and senior Evan Guyer (53rd, 16:35.9).
Woodcrest Christian junior Eyan Turk was crowned individual champion with a time of 14:07.3. The team title went to Viewpoint, which scored 115.
In the girls’ Division V race, Flintridge Prep finished 15th overall with 332 points. The first to cross the finish line for the Wolves was junior Jenna Moutes who came in 34th at 20:09.8. Wolves sophomore Sarah Bonk (60th; 20:59.9), senior Julia Bonk (74th; 21:31.9), freshman Carla Oboza (97th; 22:41.3) and senior Nicolle Riley (100th; 23:14.7) scored for Flintridge Prep.

First published in the November 23 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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