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Rebels reloading for 2011

Boys' cross country: Prep is positioned to make another run at state this year.

September 07, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

It took only one season for the Flintridge Prep boys' cross-country team to reclaim its spot atop the Prep League and continue on for its traditional trip into the top-five echelon of the CIF-State Division V hierarchy.

After a 16-year Prep League title run ended for the Rebels in 2009, the 2010 Rebels reclaimed their top spot and moved on to finish fourth in the state championships. While longtime Prep Coach Ingrid Herskind graduated four of her top seven runners, the Rebels hardly seem ready to do anything less than continue their glowing tradition.

"We've been able to put in a lot more work than we had last year," said Herskind, whose team enters the season ranked fourth by the CIF in Southern Section Division V. "I think really what we learned from the loss two years ago was that we took things for granted. I think what we learned last year is we really have to work."

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The Rebels were joined in the postseason locally last season by St. Francis and Crescenta Valley, with the Golden Knights reaching their goal of returning to the CIF Southern Section Division III finals and the Falcons' campaign coming to a close at the CIF Southern Section Division I prelims.

Meanwhile, Glendale and Hoover were both on the outside of the postseason looking in with both hoping to reach the CIF postseason this year.

For Prep, despite its senior losses, Herskind is more than pleased with the emergence of senior Casey Thompson as a leader. The Arcadia transfer spent his time on the junior varsity squad last year due to transfer rules and was also hampered by injury. This year he's stepped up to lead on the course and off.

"He wants to lead his team up to the podium at state," Herskind said. "He's extremely committed to the team. … He pushes people hard."

Prep will likely be pushed hard at the Southern Section and state level by division heavyweights St. Margaret's, Desert Christian and Woodcrest Christian – the respective top three teams in the division – while top-10 squads Pasadena Poly and Chadwick will look to unseed the Rebels in Prep League action.

With the likes of senior Jake Johnson and a deep cast of others, though, Herskind likes her team's potential.

"I think Casey and Jake will be really nice frontrunners, but we're really solid with our next 10," Herskind said. "We're so, so thick as a pack that it's so cool. We're just gonna be ferocious. You might have a front guy, but we're gonna eat you up in the middle."

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