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Unfamiliar course, familiar results for Tologs, Knights

Cross-Country: Sacred Heart, St. Francis finish in same spots as last year on brand new course.

September 06, 2012|By Andrew Shortall

ENCINO — For most of the year, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and St. Francis High cross-country teams train on hilly terrain, as both campuses are tucked away in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge.

The Tologs and Golden Knights found themselves on unfamiliar ground when they opened their Mission League seasons Thursday at Woodley Park in Los Angeles, which is a much flatter course than they're accustomed to.

"This is a new course for us so we're trying to adjust to that," said Sacred Heart senior Gabby Fitzpatrick. "It's different from what we usually do, it's a completely flat race. We usually do hills in some of our races so it's new for us, but I think it will help us with our times. It will be really fast once the weather cools down."

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The heat, which was in the high 80s, a new course and a lot of new varsity runners led to results Sacred Heart Coach Kirk Nishiyama and St. Francis Coach Patrick Donovan were a little disappointed with, as both teams matched their overall finishes from last year.

The Tologs took third with 73 points, behind Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (30) and Harvard-Westlake (40). Chaminade (108), Louisville (117) and Alemany (188) rounded out the bottom half of the girls' competition.

"I expected to take third [coming into today], but we wanted to be closer," said Nishiyama, who returns just three girls with varsity experience this year. "For a lot of the girls it's their first varsity race, so I'm not discouraged, a little disappointed but not discouraged. I think this gives us something to work on."

St. Francis came in sixth on the boys' side with 109 points. Loyola finished in first place comfortably with 27 points, while Crespi (58), Harvard-Westlake (88), Notre Dame (92) and Alemany (106) fell in line behind them.

"We are much more of a hill-based squad and that bodes well when we go to courses like Mt. SAC, but on a flat course like this it's a rough transition," Donovan said. "We tried to gear up for it, but just kind of looking at them out there today it looks like we still need to do some more focus training to come back stronger next time."

A Harvard-Westlake runner won each race individually, as Lizzy Thomas took the girls' race in 18 minutes 26 seconds and Ben Weissenbach won the boys' race in 16:02.

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