Tartan Cross Country Teams Return to CIF Finals

St. Margaret's takes a shot at CIF glory for the 10th straight year.
The Tartans have long been a force in the CIF Southern Section and 2023 is no different. Both the boys and girls squads advanced to the CIF Finals for the tenth consecutive year and look poised for a title run with solid finishes at the CIF Prelims on Nov. 11 at Mt. SAC. 
"There is no strategic advantage to winning your heat at the CIF Prelims," said head coach Patrick Bendzick, "so our goal was to advance with the least amount of effort possible." 
The girls finished second in Heat #1, while the boys finished 3rd in Heat #2.
"We ran everyone at a controlled effort and had the luxury of resting some of our top runners. I'm always so impressed with how our young runners and alternates step up in these moments," said Bendzick. "They care so much about their teammates and the program's legacy. It shows in every performance."
Veteran Everett Capelle gapped the main field by following the race plan and cruised to a second-place finish. Meanwhile, Capelle's teammates Riley Harrison, Zach Causee, Evan Causee, Jared Botuchis, and Pierce Frankfort formed a group in the top 20 and solidified the qualifying position. 
The girls race followed suit, but the duo of Joyce Li (5th) and Sarah Bendzick (6th) took responsibility for leading. At the same time, Cathy Chou, Coco Johnson, America Reyes-Mendoza, and Lauren Driver strategically managed the top 25. 
"For a young group, this team displays so much poise. It's easy to get caught up in a big race's chaos and lose focus. But this team finds a way to block out all the noise by focusing on caring for their teammates," said coach Bendzick. "It happened across the board today, but I was especially impressed by the leadership of Coco Johnson and Evan Causee. Those two would do anything to ensure their teammates are successful and the entire team greatly admires it."
The Tartans will return to Mt. Sac on Saturday, Nov. 18 for the CIF Finals. The boys will open the day with a 7:45 a.m. race time and the girls will follow at 8:25 a.m. 
Go Tartans!
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