Spartan runners about the importance of not taking the program's rich
tradition for granted, especially stressing to all the athletes who
were returning for the 2003 campaign how they could ill-afford to
drop the ball following the graduation of Kristyn Cosgrove, Jessica
Moore, Amy Parker and Tara Sharma, even if this year's lineup
consisted of mostly underclassmen.
"There's such an amazing history [associated with this program]
and there's a lot to live up to," Barry said.
"It's kind of been the biggest fear [of every team] not to drop
the ball [and fail to qualify for the CIF final or the state meet]."
Five weeks ago, it appeared as if La Canada's proverbial ball had
not only dropped, but was rolling away from Barry, Lee and first-year
Coach Andy DiConti. The Spartans weren't recognized among the top 10
teams in CIF Southern Section Division III for the first time in
almost a decade, and they didn't know if they'd even qualify for the
divisional final, let alone make their eighth straight appearance on
the prestigious 5,000-meter course at Fresno's Woodward Park.
But as Barry and Lee have learned over the years, perseverance and
senior leadership count for a lot, and the 17-year-olds weren't about
to let a fourth straight trip to the state meet slip through their
"That's been on my mind for the past month-and-a-half," said Lee,
who, along with Barry, has competed on teams that have finished no
worse than third at the division final -- including a CIF title in
2001 -- entering Saturday's championship race at 9:05 a.m. at Mount
San Antonio College in Walnut.
"I have to run at state. Right now, not running at state is not an
Being part of a program that has finished no worse than eighth at
the state meet during the past seven seasons -- joining Moraga
Campolindo and San Francisco University as the only teams in the
state to accomplish the feat -- a trip to Fresno for Barry and Lee
has been as automatic as the Spartans winning the La Canada
Flintridge All-City Meet or a Rio Hondo League title.
But it wasn't until the 56th annual Mount SAC Invitational Oct. 24