Cross-Country Teams Leave A Little Something in the Tank

The South Pasadena High varsity cross-country boys and girls teams finished fifth and sixth, respectively, last Saturday at the CIF Preliminaries in Riverside — and that was more or less by design.

“We moved on just the way I planned,’’ head coach Michael Parkinson said. “I didn’t want to win because that takes too much energy. We want to save it for this week.”

The teams competed in the Southern Section Division 4 races.

Two other top cross-country programs in the division — Foothill Technology and Laguna Beach — likely used a similar tactic to conserve energy for the finals. They finished around the same time as South Pas in the races.

The girls team was led by sophomore Sydney Morrow, who finished in fifth place out of more than 150 runners, junior Lindsay Michels, who finished 24th, and sophomore Mai Koyama, who finished 37th.

The boys team was led by senior Sam Clark, who finished in eighth place, and juniors Andrew Villapudua and Patrick Latting, who finished 11th and 14th, respectively.

“Conditions were awful,’’ Parkinson said. “It was 88 degrees, 25 mile-an-hour gusts, and dust blowing all over the place. So, we survived that, and we look forward to the rain [Wednesday] and [Thursday] to dampen down that dust and have 50-, 60-degree weather for the 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock races [on Saturday]. We’re very optimistic that it’ll go our way.”

The CIF Southern Section Finals race will be at the Riverside Cross Country Course on Saturday, with the girls racing at 9 a.m. and the boys racing at 10 a.m.

The top seven teams for boys and girls go on to compete in the state competition.

“We’ve been planning this all year,” Parkinson said. “As soon as we did well at Clovis Invitational (in) midseason, teams started noticing us and rankers started noticing us. I said, ‘We can do this — we can go to state.’ … We worked hard in the summer and throughout the season pointing towards these two weeks, and we’re ready.”

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Ahmad Akkaoui is a sports writer for the South Pasadena Review covering high school sports in the area. Ahmad is a native of Pasadena and comes to South Pasadena with a background in online, radio, and television media. For all things sports, you can find him on Twitter at @AhmadMAkkaoui.