The first California state cross country meet took place on Saturday, November 28, 1987. Since then, some of the state's brightest and most successful cross country coaches have amassed multiple team and individual championships. Of course, the roots of cross country in California go back FAR before there was a state meet, and this state was a breeding ground for legendary coaches in the "pre-state meet" time period. Some of the Golden State's best have bridged between the two eras, starting before the state meet came into being and continue to coach to this day. Every week through the end of cross country, we will feature one of these Coaching Legends, a past or present figure that helped shape the sport in the Golden State and make California the best state in the nation for cross country!
When it comes to the most successful boys' cross country teams in California, it won't take you too long as you scroll down the list of the top teams before you get to Flintridge Prep. A Southern Section power in the smallest division (Division V), FP has been a ridiculously consistent contender for podium (top 3) positions at the California state meet since their coach (Ingrid Herskind-above right) took over the reigns of the team in 1997. Below is a listing of their state meet finishes up to last season, all in Division V.
1997 2nd Place
1998 1st Place
1999 1st Place
2000 2nd Place
2001 3rd Place
2002 1st Place
2003 2nd Place
2004 1st Place
2005 2nd Place
2006 3rd Place
2007 4th Place
2008 2nd Place
2009 3rd Place
2010 4th Place
2011 5th Place
2012 2nd Place
2013 4th Place
2014 3rd Place
2015 1st Place
2016 2nd Place
In short, that is 20 STRAIGHT YEARS of at least top 4 team finishes at the state meet including 5 team championships, 7 second place finishes along with four third place finishes for a total of 16 podium finishes. Their 2015 team recorded the 3rd lowest team score in Division V history (43 points) while establishing the fastest team time ever at 79:44. Their level of consistency over that 20 year stretch cannot be matched by any school in any division.
Ingrid Herskind started teaching History at Flintridge Prep in 1995 and as mentioned earlier, took over coaching the boys' cross country team in 1997. She has also coached the distance runners during the Track and Field season as well as swimming. She came from a running family and swam during grade school and in college. She ran cross country and track and field in high school since swimming was not an option. Her first coaching job was in Huntsville, Alabama.
Along with all the team success, Coach Herskind has also had the pleasure of coaching some of the top individuals in the same division. 2014 Flintridge Prep graduate Alan Yoho captured the 2013 state individual title and went on to finish in 9th place at NXN. Jack Van Scoter (seen below) had the fortune and misfortune of racing against Cooper Teare of St. Joseph Notre Dame with their epic fantastic finish in 2015 as Teare edged Van Scoter by mere inches at the finish line. Current senior Evan Pattinelli finished in 2nd place at the 2016 CA state meet behind, you guessed it, Cooper Teare! He will be one of the favorites to win the individual state title in late November.
Mayfield girls' coach Eric Sun, whose team is currently the top-ranked Division IV team in California, had this to say about fellow league coach and friend:
"Ingrid has to be one of the most dedicated Coaches around! As an Educator and Coach, she gives and puts in the time, energy and soul into her boys. She has been super inspirational for those scrawny boys whom she turns into great young men by the time they graduate. I've been fortunate enough to be-friend her over these years and she inspires us to become better people as well as coaches."
Below is an interview with recently graduated Jack Van Scoter after his Mt. SAC Invitational victory in 2014.
Another coach, George Ramos of Chadwick, has been a direct competitor with Coach Herskind in both the Southern Section as well as the state meet and this is what he had to say:
"Ingrid is a master coach. Throughout my twenty-one years of coaching against her, her boys have been fast, intelligent, and disciplined on the race course and courteous off of it. I admire what she gets her boys to do and to be; she truly raises the bar for the rest of us. As a person, she's fun, smart, and professional... as I said, a master coach!"