The South Pasadena High School (SPHS) track & field teams – all four levels – have been officially crowned the Rio Hondo league champions again and the program remains undefeated since 2012, according to the head coach, CB Richards.
Moreover, that represents 16 straight boys & girls varsity league titles when you combine both. The boys have been crowned league champions seven straight years in a row from 2013-2019, while the girls have been league champs for the past nine consecutive years from 2011-2019, according to Richards.
But that doesn’t include the boys and girls frosh-soph squads, which tally up 24-straight league titles. The boys have taken home 14-straight championships, 2006-2019, and the girls have worn the champion moniker for 10-straight years from 2010-2019.
That’s a combined total of 40 league championships at all four levels that participate in the SPHS track & field program.
And finally, all four levels have won seven straight years of league titles without a So Pas team missing a title. That’s 28 straight league titles over seven years.
“We are very proud of all the hard working SPHS student- athletes and the incredible dedicated coaching staff,” Richards said in an email to The Review. “As well as the behind the scene support from (SPHS Principal) Janet Anderson, (AD) Greg Luna and the SPHS administration and SPUSD district office.”
The program, including all four levels, also has racked up a perfect 168-0 record since 2012 in all league dual meets.
Richards gives the credit to having “respect and pride in the hard work.”
At the beginning of the season, Richards anticipated that his squad would prevail but was cautious because there were some new additions and he lost some valuable seniors.
He had some first-timers over from girls soccer, as an example, that he was unsure how those talents would transfer to track. Not to worry, he said, they excelled.
“I don’t know if we are going to win but for somebody to beat us, they have to go above us.,” Richards said at the beginning of the season. “We’re going to be out there so I don’t know, I can’t say win or lose, but we are definitely going to be ready. For somebody to beat us they have to put together extraordinary measures. We are not going to go below our standards.”
Richards also pointed out that more So Pas High School students come out for track & field than any other sport. Richards estimates his squad for boys and girls has about 130 students. The school’s enrollment is 1,300 students.
“That’s about 10 percent that are in the track & field program,” Richards said. “The kids come out because, one, we’re successful. People like that. Two, we keep it fun. Track is kind of a combination of hard work, dedication, and I think that’s kind of filtered through and success breeds success and people want to be part of this. And this sport makes your other sports better. I have soccer players. I have about 12 football players. We have basketball kids. Volleyball. So we have a bunch of those kids.”
It might mean lack of track experience but that’s a coach’s challenge, Richards said.
“Experience is huge in track & field because for, one thing, kids are nervous, so experience helps us so much,” Richards said during one of many interviews this season. “We have the state finalist in TH Wei. He was the state finalist in the triple jump. He’s just a junior. He basically has a lot of experience from last year and he has a lot of swagger since he’s been to the big meets. He was CIF champion last year as a sophomore in the triple jump. His experience will help others.” Wei has excelled this season as well, Richards said.
The same lack of experience plagued the girls varsity also, Richards said, but again the talent is there. It’s was just a matter of harnessing it, which they did.
“We’re a little thin on the seniors, even on the girls side” Richards said. “Some kids are going to have to step up. We do have Christina Taylor, Ashley Hugasian, who are captains on the girls. And from there it’s a lot of young kids that are going to need help. Gianna Beasley is also a captain and a senior. She’s a phenomenal CIF finalist. Those three girls have to help with the young girls. They can see it. But we also, and it’s really cool, we had three soccer seniors that have decided to come out and do track for the first time. They look great.” The three new soccer players were all standouts this past season as the squad made it into the playoffs but were defeated in the first round. The three girls are Rainey Tilley, Booch (Emma) Barrera and the prolific-scorer Uma Hornish.
“We got all three coming out and it’s the first-time they’re doing track,” Richards said. “We got to find out what they can do. My only concern is that we got some kids that are good athletes but no experience yet. We’ll get them going fast.”
They have not disappointed, Richards said, and have become an integral part of the winning tradition.
Richards also pointed to his coaching staff as being instrumental in the success of the program, saying his track coaches are special.
“The school give me one head coach for all four teams and two assistants,” he said. “The Booster Club helps us out a lot and we are able to bring in volunteer coaches through honorariums. So we have about six other coaches as well. They’ve been here for a long time. I have a great staff. They are so dedicated. They come from faraway. All told we have about nine coaches.”
At the end of the season, Richards said he wants to look back and realize his student-athletes have excelled at both sport and human development.
“Character is so important,” Richards said. “I really think the kids understand that. If we do hard work and push character to the level that we are doing, great things happen. We hold them accountable and the life-lessons they take with them. I think we give them a sense of pride here. The know they have to hold that bar up high. There’s a great history behind this. So, people know this is South Pasadena track. You can’t just go through the motions out here. They have to come out here and represent us well. They do a great job. They represent the city well. If they work hard, if they’re accountable, if they have good character, success follows.”
Always looking ahead, Richards said the squad is ready for the finals this Friday at home and what follows after, the CIF postseason.
“The track program hasn’t lost a team dual meet since 2013,” he said. “And we won the CIF girls title in 2012. We are trying to go after another CIF title soon.”
Friday’s meet at SPHS will determine individual event champions, such as in the 100 meters, 400 meters, long jump, and all the rest. The top three finishers will move onto the CIF postseason. Those prelims are scheduled for May 4, Richards said. The site to be determined.