The South Pasadena High varsity cross-country boys and girls teams had a rough time Saturday in the CIF Southern Section Championships at the Riverside Cross Country Course — but sophomore girls star Sydney Morrow salvaged the day for the Tigers by qualifying for this weekend’s state meet with a sixth-place finish.
“My initial feeling — I was really happy, and I [felt] accomplished because I knew I made it soon after the race,” Morrow said. “Even though the girls team didn’t make it with me, I was really proud of them as well because I know we had a really good season, and we did better than we expected to. I’m also a little disappointed because I really wanted my teammates to come with me.”
Head coach Michael Parkinson was proud of his star.
“Sydney ran a great race — right up there with the top girls,” he said. “It’s a great blessing that she was able to make it, and we’re super pleased about that. Only the third girl in South Pas history to make it to state, so it’s a nice legacy. We’re expecting big things, as you always want to expect big things going into a meet.”
The Division 4 girls team, ranked in the top 10 before the meet, finished in 11th place, with Morrow leading her team, sophomore Mai Koyama finishing 47th and junior Lindsay Michels finishing 57th.
The Division 4 boys team, ranked in the top-five before the meet, finished 13th, with senior Sam Clark leading the squad with a 35th-place finish and juniors Patrick Latting and Andrew Villapudua following at 41st and 46th, respectively.
Parkinson said Morrow’s knee started to hurt in training, and she ended up resting for five days before the race. He thinks the teams might have gone too hard in practice.
“Eight people in total asked me to massage their knee or their calf, and as I look in hindsight, it told me we went too hard,” he said. “I wish I would’ve been able to rest everybody. They would’ve all had the same result. It can be that subtle of working somebody too fast or too hard, getting them sore, and then go into the race and they weren’t up in the front like we had planned — in the top 15 or top 20.”
As far as Morrow’s strategy going into the state meet on Saturday, she said she was planning to run with the top five in the first mile and then work her way up throughout the race to try to get a better finish.