Cross country heads to CIF under Hall of Fame coach

By Seth Goldman and Jack Schwada

The boys and girls cross country squad have the CIF Preliminaries to look forward to this Saturday at Mount San Antonio College, which will determine which runners will be going on to the CIF Finals a week from this Saturday at Mt. SAC as well.

First year cross country team head coach Johnny Gray, a former Olympian and recent inductee into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame class of 2008, sent seven boys and seven girls to the top 36 of their respective boys and girls groups in the Mission League Finals last Wednesday at Crescenta Valley Park.

The Wolverine squad competed against several schools, including Flintridge Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Louisville, Chaminade, St. Francis, Loyola, Alemany, and Crespi.

Three boys runners, David Abergel ’11, Michael Richardson ’09, and Kevin On ’11, tied for tenth place in the varsity boys three-mile run.

The boys squad had an overall solid performance with a combination of good times from freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior runners on the team. However, the team lost as a squad by a considerable 48 point difference to the Loyola team.

Senior Chris Cheng ’09 took 14th place, junior Elijah Lowenstein ’10 took 17th place, sophomore Hank Adelmann ’11 took 29th place, and sophomore Charlie Stigler ’11 took 35th place in the boys division.

But the real story was the strong performance of the freshmen girls at the tournament.

Camille Chapus ’12 came in first place in the Varsity Girls three-mile run beating the second place runner from Flintridge Sacred Heart by 12 seconds.

Chapus was followed by Nikki Goren ’12, another freshman, who took fifth place in the girls group over a minute behind Chapus.

“My freshman girls are very talented,” said coach Gray. “I know they have a bright future ahead of them.”

The other girls who ran were Lilly Einstein ’11, who took 14th place, Claudine Yee ’10, who took 16th place, Bridget Golob ’10, who took 28th place, Gina Benedicto ’10, who took 34th place, and Melissa Flores ’12, who took 36th place.

Despite the strong performance of the girls squad, they were unable to take first place and Flintridge Sacred Heart, a major league rival, took first place in the tournament 24 points ahead of the Wolverine squad.

This tournament comes after a season in which the girls team finished the year with a losing record with one win and two losses and the boys team finished the year with a record that was tied with one loss and one win.

“I’m happy with the season and the progress we made and I look forward to the future,” said Gray. “I look forward to the future because we are still on the basics in regards to my plans and where I want the team to go.”

Cross country, however, remains at its core about the people.

“I never approach cross country as an individual sport, but everyone will do their personal best [during the post season],” Gray said.