Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five straight Mission League trophies will appear in the girls’ cross country team’s trophy case after the Mission League Finals.
The girls outran every team in its league at Woodley Park to take first overall at League Finals. The boys’ team narrowly missed matching them, taking second behind rival Loyola.
Lizzy Thomas ’14 finished second in the girls’ race, with Trishta Dordi ’15 and co-captain Yasmin Moreno ’13 following in third and sixth respectively to clinch the top spot for the Wolverine girls’ team.
“Everything came together really well,” Moreno said. “Our whole team was there, and I think this was the first time this season everyone was ready to be there.”
The team drew inspiration from its success at previous years’ League Finals in preparing for this year’s competition.
“We’ve all worked hard, but we wanted to keep our tradition going of winning Mission League,” Moreno said. “We were all really motivated, and I guess that played a big role in why we won.”
On the boys’ end, two seconds separated Ben Weissenbach ’15 from Loyola runner Josh Lewis, who beat out Weissenbach to finish in first.
Co-captain David Manahan followed, in sixth place in the race.
Weissenbach, who had two first-place finishes during the regular season, found he just missed out on first place at League Finals due to mistakes he made during the race.
“I made a couple tactical errors,” Weissenbach said. “I left it too late in the race to make my move. [Lewis] has really good closing speed, he’s a really good middle distance runner, and I think I should’ve made a move earlier in the race to break away. Instead, I made a measured move – I picked up the pace but not too much – so he was able to hang with me and sprint by me at the very end. I think if I had broken away it might have gone differently.”
With the high finishes at League Finals, both teams have gained momentum heading further into the postseason where the girls will look to replicate their 2009 State championship winning performance and the boys will look to mimic their 2011 CIF championship winning season.
“It just reaffirms our belief that we’ve been working really hard,” Moreno said. “We got the results that we wanted, and we’re feeling really happy and confident. That’s really going to helps going into CIF, getting us into the right mind set.”
Manahan also felt bolstered by the boys’ results.
“League Finals was a major confidence booster,” Manahan said. “I don’t think we have had a team run this well ever at Harvard-Westlake.”
The cross country teams will next head into CIF competition at Mount San Antonio College where they raced earlier this season, beginning with CIF preliminaries on Nov. 10.
If runners place high enough at the CIF preliminaries race, they will compete at CIF Finals on Nov. 17 also at Mt. SAC.
After CIF Finals, if they qualify, runners will compete in the State Finals Meet at Woodward Park later this month on Nov. 24.
“It’s around this time where we take all the work we’ve done and put it all together,” Manahan said. “We’re approaching those races that really matter now. League Finals was the first of those races.”