Competing in the California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships has become an annual tradition for the three high schools from La Jolla, as every fall it seems that La Jolla High School, La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop's School have representation in Fresno on Thanksgiving weekend. Getting there is no easy feat, though, and with all three schools running at Woodward Park on Nov. 24, they turned in some solid results.
The girls' team from The Bishop's School turned in the strongest performance, finishing ninth in the Division IV race. The Knights scored 268 points (first-place Oaks Christian of Westlake Village had 149) and an average time of 20 minutes, 44 seconds.
Junior Elizabeth Schulze was the Knights' leading runner, finishing 16th with a time of 19:45 over the 3.1-mile course. Junior Laura Wyatt nearly caught her, placing 19th in 19:51. Freshman Serena Glynn was 46th in 20:42, freshman Lauren Collins was 81st in 21:21, and junior Alicia Triana placed 106th in 21:57. Junior Naomi Wagner (123, 22:28) and freshman Alyssa Morgosh (140, 23:11) rounded out the Knights' lineup.
The Knights' performance at the state meet was the second best in school history, according to coach Steve Brown. The performance capped off a season in which Bishop's won the Coastal League South and the Coastal Conference Championship as well as the CIF-San Diego Section Division title for the second straight year.
Bishop's also had five runners land on the All-Coastal Conference team and four on the All-CIF team.
"This is a team that didn't, because of injury and illness, put its top seven runners on the line until the CIF Championship race at Morley Field," Brown said. "But not one of the girls who was out of action gave up on herself, and not one of their teammates gave up on them. They all just kept working hard, running with great patience and poise and courage."
Country Day's boys team had two runners finish in the top 40 in team scoring, helping the Torreys secure a 17th-place team finish with a score of 422 and an average time of 17:47 in the Division IV race.
Junior Alex Poyhonen was once again the team's leading runner, clocking a time of 16:22, good enough for 12th place individually.
"He ran a great race and improved his time from last year by 20 seconds," Country Day coach Scott Sanders said. "He's obviously a little disappointed he didn't get into the top 10, but he was very happy with his race and is looking forward to next year and cracking that top 10.
"He's been running better all season long. He's shown some consistent improvement, and we knew he was capable of running 20-30 seconds faster than last year if the conditions were right. He was better prepared, he knew what he wanted to do, and had a race plan that was pretty solid and that he was able to stick to."
Poyhonen was followed by sophomore Dennis Roth, who was 53rd in 17:02. Alex Fleischhacker placed 150th in 18:12, Jason McCallum was 127th in 18:34, and Avneet Pujji was 164th in 18:41.
Rounding out Country Day's lineup were Phillip Poyhonen (192, 19:12) and Jake Eliasberg (201, 21:28).
"We had some good races and some average races, and we had some disappointment because we were missing our fourth runner due to an ankle injury," Sanders said. "That really let the air out of the tires, because we were really thinking that if we ran well, we could get a top-10 finish, and that would have been a big step up from last year, when we finished 20th. I think the team had that potential, but when you take your No. 4 runner out, that's a tough thing to make up."
In all, La Jolla high schools sent 24 runners to the state meet - three full teams as well as three individuals who qualified on their own merits.
La Jolla High School's boys' team finished 19th of 23 teams in the Division III race with 403 points and an average time of 17:13. Trevor Dorne led the pack for the Vikings, clocking a time of 16:47 and finishing 49th. Michael Conroy followed closely behind in 61st in 16:55, and right behind him was Andrew Farkas in 70th at 17:01.
Angel Mendoza finished 104th in 17:33, and Daniel Holl was 119th in 17:48. Zak Wescoe (142, 18:22) and Dylan Colburn (146, 18:26) rounded out La Jolla's lineup.
Nihal Kayali of La Jolla High School was the top runner of the three individuals competing at the state meet. She placed 50th in the Division III girls' race with a time of 19:34. Teammate Courtney Avampato was 136th in a time of 21:03. Andy Morgosh of Bishop's placed 99th in the Division IV boys' race with a time of 17:30.