HomeBlocksFront-GridSt. Francis Runs Away With Second Straight State Title

St. Francis Runs Away With Second Straight State Title

St. Francis cross-country is once again the best in the state.
The Golden Knights won their second straight Division IV title at the CIF State Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday, holding off JSerra 66-124 to retain their state crown.
The Golden Knights set a new state division record, finishing in a total team time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 19 seconds.
It’s another triple crown season for St. Francis, which topped JSerra the week before to successfully defend its CIF Southern Section Division IV title. The team’s title-winning run started with their second successive Mission League crown, finishing ahead of rivals Loyola in October.
“Coming into this season, it was absolutely their goal to repeat in all three of those things, and on top of that, cement their legacy in the annals of Division IV, and they did just that at the state meet by capturing the fastest time in Division IV state history,” St. Francis coach Pat Donovan said. “It’s something to keep them motivated, but I would attribute that success to the dedication and team camaraderie that they all share.
“It’s something that I don’t think any of them took lightly. None of them thought that winning any of those things was a given. It was something that they knew they had to earn, but they were willing to put in all the work to make sure that, at the end of the day, that we would be standing up there on the podium as a team.”
Golden Knights senior Sam Franco put in a top-10 performance, coming in eighth in a time of 15:24.3.
The Mission League individual champion was followed by St. Francis junior Auge Martin in 14th in 15:41.5, and senior Luke Metcalf (27th; 16:02.1), junior Axel Gonzalez (28th; 16:04.5) and junior Aidan Guzman (30th; 16:06.2) rounded out the scoring runners for the defending champions. The individual winner of the state meet was Emmanuel Perez, a senior from Cathedral who clocked in at 14:45.5.
“One of the great things about this team this season and last season, as well, is that they gel so well together that I think that each one of them had confidence that if they weren’t on their best game, then somebody else was going to be able to take up the reigns and make up for it,” Donovan said. “Having that confidence in your teammates is something that really puts you at ease in race situations and that helps everybody race better.”
Donovan added that seeing seniors Franco and Metcalf improve and become fierce competitors and leaders is something he will miss next season.
“I was so happy that they were able to stand up there two years in a row at the state meet on the podium holding the championship trophy, but their loss will definitely be felt next season,” said Donovan. “They’re two runners that are irreplaceable.
“I know that they are still hungry for the sport of cross-country and track and I know that they are able to do great things at the next level. I have a great team and I’ve got seven guys on the team that I trust with anything, but, with that being said, those two young men, their absences will be felt not just by me, but by the rest of the team. It’s such a great group of guys that’s just gelled together.”

A fourth-place finish from junior Maya DeBrouwer helped the La Cañada girls’ cross-country team finish fourth overall in the Division IV race.
“I am really proud of how well they did, given we had a lot of adversity, and lot of injury and sickness this year,” La Cañada coach Chris Matarese said. “They really performed better than we could have hoped for, given that we only had a 60-70% healthy team, and we were only eight points out of finishing second.”
DeBrouwer crossed the finish line in 17:37.4, and the Spartans team clocked in a collective time of 1:29.41.
“She had an amazing race, obviously being one of the top runners in the state,” said Matarese of DeBrouwer. “She really helped lead the team to almost podium.”
Coming in after DeBrouwer were senior Katelyn Matarese (26th; 18:59.4), sophomore Charlotte Hopkins (28th; 19:00.9), senior Yasmine Ghaneh (45th; 19:29.2) and freshman Tina Lin (100th; 20:40.5). The Spartans coach gave special recognition to Ghaneh and Lin, both of whom stepped up for the team at the state meet. Ghaneh also finished strong at the CIF Southern Section Championship and carried the momentum to Fresno, the coach said.
JSerra, considered the top team in the nation, won the CIF State Division IV girls’ team title with 40 points. La Jolla sophomore Chiara Dailey won the individual crown with a time of 17:09.2.
The Spartans girls’ team returned to the state meet following a fifth-place team finish in the CIF Southern Section Division IV race.
La Cañada won its third consecutive Rio Hondo League championship on Nov. 2, holding off rivals South Pasadena for the title.
With cross-country over, the Spartans turn their sights toward track season, but with a top finish at state, the team is thrilled for what’s to come next year.
“Most of the runners are coming back, so I think it’s going to be another year where we’ll be fighting for a top three finish at state,” Matarese said.


The Flintridge Prep boys cross country members include Liam Carrig Braun from left Leo McDonald Kevin Martinez Mason Perrigue Declan Mansbridge Evan Guyer and Carter Sakai Photo courtesy Scott Jung

In its first CIF State meet since winning the Southern Section title in 2019, the Flintridge Prep boys’ cross-country team placed 18th overall. It was a start to renewing a longstanding tradition for the Wolves boys’ cross-country program, said coach Scott Jung.
“It was a great season,” Jung said. “We made it back to state, so that was obviously the highlight. That was our goal for the year. The great thing, too, is that every varsity guy who ran, ran a course PR on Saturday, so they ran the fastest they had run on that course, and what more can you ask for?”
Wolves sophomore Declan Mansbridge came in 83rd, clocking in at 17:08.4. Flintridge Prep senior Kevin Martinez followed in 89th at 17:12, junior Carter Sakai in 95th at 17:15.2, senior Leo McDonald 104th in 17:21.9, and senior Evan Guyer 139th in 17:51.2 rounded out the scoring runners.
“I’m really happy the seniors had their first opportunity to experience [state],” Jung said. ”It wasn’t really that difficult to get them excited about it because it was something they had never done before. It was always something that was on our radar since they were essentially sophomores and they didn’t have a freshman season.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Wolves boys’ team won 10 straight Prep League titles. They were crowned CIF-SS Division V champions in 2019 – their first in four years.
Since then, the program has been in rebuild, and the current seniors were underclassmen during that time. It’s all culminated into another Prep League title clinched in October, and an appearance at the CIF State Division V finals.
Flintridge Prep finished seventh in the CIF Southern Section Cross Country Championships earlier this month to qualify for the state meet on Saturday. Jung said the experience for some of the younger teammates who didn’t participate in the state meet will be important and valuable for them.
“I think that was motivation right there for them – just being in the atmosphere and realizing this is something that they would want to do and learn the next couple of years,” Jung said.
Crystal Springs Uplands School, based out of Hillsborough in Northern California, won the CIF State Division V boys’ title scoring 111 points. The individual winner for the meet was Crystal Springs Uplands sophomore Tarik Baker who clocked in at 15:34.8.

First published in the November 30 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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