As the La Cañada High, Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and St. Francis track and field programs prepared for their just-commenced seasons, goals and expectations for 2014 varied.
Perhaps the lone similarity is a commitment from the quartet for improvement this season.
The entire Spartans program numbers near 100, which 12-year coach Casey Mollett credits through a word-of-mouth campaign.
"This season, we have a lot of kids coming from different programs like wrestling, volleyball, basketball and football," Mollett said. "It's real exciting because this comes from kids spreading the word and from kids from other sports coming out. It doesn't really matter what sport, participating in track is a benefit to all sports."
The Spartans finished third in the Rio Hondo League in the girls' standings and were fourth on the boys' side last season.
Perhaps its should come as no surprise that the Spartans will be led on both sides by the distance squads, highlighted by All-Area Girls' Cross-Country Runner of the Year Anna Frederich, who will look to improve upon her third-place finish at the league's 1,600-meter final in 5 minutes, 37.77 seconds and fourth-place effort in the 800 (2:36.52).
Frederich, a senior, will be joined by junior Colleen Mispagel, the league frosh-soph champion in the 3,200 (12:11.92) and runner-up in the 1,600 (5:34.01), along with freshman Caitlin Mispagel.
Outside of distances, Mollett has some reliable returners in senior Victoria Eskue (100, 300 hurdles), junior Sawa Keymeulen (400, 800) and sophomores Katherine Sheehy (sprints) and Rose Quezada (hurdles).
Senior Katie Wagner (400) is making a return to track after a one-year break and will join Jamie Van Slootin (springs, high jump), a competitor off the pep squad.
On the boys' side, junior Ethan Angold is back after taking third in the 3,200 (10:22.88) and fourth in the 1,600 (4:51.34) at league finals. Junior cross-country runners Mitchell Trout, Alex Broes and Robbie Eaton will do their best to keep up with the Spartans' catalyst.
Mollett is also expecting strong seasons from senior hurdler and long jumper Graham Miketta, sprinters Jadon Henry and Anthony Connell and junior hurdler Jake Gill.
The Rebels opened the season with a strong effort in claiming the Prep League cluster meet on March 4, winning the boys' meet, 87-55, over Pasadena Poly, while the girls knocked off Westridge, 123-86.5.
On the boys' side, the Rebels are coming off a third-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Division IV championships and boast a strong one-two punch in senior Alan Yoho and sophomore Jack Van Scoter.
Yoho, who won a CIF-SS Division V cross-country individual title in November, finished runner-up last year in the division in the 1,600 (4:16.60) and is coming off a victory in the 1,600 (4:43.53) and 3,200 (10:28.23) at the cluster meet.
Van Scoter also notched a victory, winning the 800 in 2:07.14.
Maybe the biggest lock for a league championship is the Rebels' Barrett Weiss, the reigning Prep League pole vault champion (13-8), who returns with brother Gareth Weiss.
As for the girls, Prep League cross-country champion Sarah Yoho already posted a victory in the 800 in the team's first meet in 2:30.34.
Yoho is part of a strong distance unit that includes senior Kate Evans, the league 1,600-meter champion (5:27.54).
On the field, Sabrina Goodman is a dual threat and proved so by winning the long jump (15-3) and triple jump (30-4) at the first cluster meet.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
Like Flintridge Prep, the Tologs also opened their season with a resounding win, 110-13, over Chaminade in Mission League action Thursday.
In that contest, Flintridge Sacred Heart won every event except for the pole vault.
"I think that score is probably more telling about Chaminade than it is about us," Tologs Coach Eddie Gorton said. "I'm hoping we can show up and compete against the big schools in our league like Harvard-Westlake, Notre Dame and Alemany."
Gorton wasn't so optimistic early this offseason when he only had 12 runners. However, that number has ballooned to 42 in recent days.
If the Tologs are to have success this season, it will likely be because of the efforts of sophomore hurdler Holly MacVaugh, junior distance runner Kayla Grahn, junior sprinter Kayla Montgomery and freshman sprinter Nia Harris.
Grahn, the league junior varsity champion in the 1,600 (6:06.48) and 3,200 (13:08.09), has already blasted two times in taking first versus Chaminade with marks of 5:37.1 and 12:25.2, respectively.
Montgomery returns to varsity a year after taking fourth in the 400 (59.02) and Gorton sees the junior bypassing that mark this year.
As for MacVaugh, the sophomore is expected to compete in the 100 and 300 hurdles along with the high jump this season, while Harris is an up-and-comer in the 100 and 200.
Perhaps the Tologs breakthrough squad this season is the returning 400-meter relay team of Harris, Montgomery, Ella Gmelich and Olivia Mathews, which finished fourth in 50.05.
With 85 athletes in the program, second-year coach Marvin Williams is optimistic about 2014.
"I think we have a lot of talent and speed and some distance guys who are doing pretty well," Williams said. "Our pole vault is our weak spot, but we'll be strong in the high jumps."
Williams is hoping that senior Eric Knowles can be a little more consistent and prove even more valuable in the jumps, where Knowles was third in the triple jump (44-6) and fourth in the long jump (20-10 3/4) at the Mission League finals.
One challenge to Knowles will come from junior Glenn Ramos, who was third in the frosh-soph long jump (19-5 3/4) and fourth in the frosh-soph triple jump (37-8) last season.
One wild card in the jumping equation is freshman Izaiah Adams, who jumped 18 feet in the long jump while in middle school.
"Izaiah is probably going to do some sprinting in the future," Williams said. "Right now, it's open and we'll see how we do."