Tartan Cross Country Finds the Podium Again at the CIF Finals

The Tartan Cross Country team has made the CIF Finals for the past seven consecutive years, and since 2018, the boys have won one championship and two runner-up awards, while the girls have won two titles and one runner-up award. It's a rich legacy that continued in the 2022 CIF Finals at Mt. SAC on Saturday. 

Despite being down their All-State senior Liesel Blau, who was out with an injury, the girls team was in the title hunt at the two-mile mark. They would eventually slip to 4th in the final standings, just five points out of 3rd place. Freshman sensation Joyce Li once again led the squad with a 5th place finish in 18:29, placing her 2nd on St. Margaret's all-time list for the Mt.SAC course behind Blau, who ran 17:59 in 2019.

"This group is relatively young, but our seniors made a huge difference today. Ali Botuchis might have had the race of her life, picking up dozens of spots after the 2-mile mark, and Emma Griffin's poise sets the tone for the work they have to do," said head coach Patrick Bendzick. "The bar we have of winning a championship every year is very high and sometimes unfair, but they willingly accept it because the program's legacy is so important to them. I simply could not ask for more as a coach." 

The boys team hoisted another CIF plaque after a very close battle with Viewpoint. It was anyone's race with a half mile to go, but Viewpoint connected a group of four runners that would ultimately disrupt the final standings. The two teams have been friendly rivals since the Tartans won the California State Championships in 2018 and have traded places ever since. 

"You have to admire the tenacity of this group and their resilience. We had two runners out sick for most of the week, but they never wavered from the idea that they could win this one," said Bendzick. "Similar to the girls team, our senior leadership in Keegan Carnell and Kevin Chou is second to none. They care, they give, and they sacrifice for their teammates always." 

Everett Capelle was the individual runner-up at 15:36 after stalking the front group for almost two miles. He showed incredible race savvy in patiently waiting for the right time to make moves, and his placement also masterfully positioned the team. St. Margaret's senior Kevin Shen also earned All-CIF honors with his 12th-place finish. 

The Tartans will travel to Fresno next Saturday for their 6th consecutive trip to the State Championships. The girls race begins at 9 a.m., and the boys will follow at 10 a.m. You can follow the action with live scoring at https://www.rtspt.com/events/cif/xc2022/.
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