Flintridge Prep wants a second title

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Flintridge Prep's Aaron Sugimoto leaves the competition behind to win the Prep League Boys Varsity Cross-Country race at Pierce College in Woodland Hills on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. The Flintridge Prep boys won the league title as well. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / October 27, 2012)

For the Flintridge Prep boys’ track and field team, 2013 is a chance to build on last year and begin a run of Prep League dominance by winning consecutive league titles.

For nearby St. Francis and La Cañada highs, the approach is a bit different with each squad hoping for steady improvement throughout the year, while at least matching what they accomplished the in 2012.

While the Rebels sneaked up on several teams to win the league title for the first time since 2003, things figure to be a bit tougher this season.

“Right now, we are hoping to win it again,” Flintridge Prep Coach Nick Ponticello said. “At the same time, we have to make sure we are not overconfident.

“Last year, it was more about the element of surprise. We are looking forward to a good season. We want to try to be even more cohesive.”

Flintridge Prep will return a core of talented athletes in distance runners Elias Ellison and Aaron Sugimoto and Alan Yoho. Also looking to earn Flintridge Prep valuable points in meets will be sprinters Henry Griffith and Stefan Smith and West Nowotny in the discus.

It’s unclear if sophomore pole vaulters Gareth Weiss and Barrett Weiss will return to the Rebels. The twin brothers both broke personal bests last season in tying for a CIF Southern Section Division IV championship with vaults of 12 feet 9 inches before a tiebreaker determined Gareth to be the champion.

St. Francis will begin a new era under the direction of first-year coach Marvin Williams, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Campbell Hall. Williams replaces Pat Donovan, who will stay on as an assistant.

The Golden Knights will try to establish depth in a variety of events while competing in the tough Mission League.

“We want to be able to make some big steps in the different events,” Williams said. “We feel like we have a lot of talent in place.

“It’s about building consistency during workouts so they get stronger physically during the season.”

St. Francis will turn to sprinters Ross Niederhaus, Anthony Carter and Christofer Rivera, to go along with hurdler Caleb Simmeth. They will be joined by Daniel Medina in the 400, Bowen Waugh at distance and Eric Knowles in the long jump.

La Cañada High Coach Casey Mollett said the Spartans will be looking to nab a top-three finish in the Rio Hondo League.

“It would be wonderful if we could do better than we did last year,” said Mollett, whose team place fourth in league last year.

It will have to be done by a largely new-look squad, which is led by several multi-sport athletes. Junior Jadon Henry, a running back on the school’s football team, will be leading the Spartans sprinters, while Andrew Meeker, a member of the boys’ soccer team, will run the 200- and 400-meter and in relays.