PaliHi Cross Country Season Gets Underway (Video)

This is a challenging time for Palisades High School cross country coach Bob Macias—and the season is barely underway. Three of the best runners on the boys team are out with injuries, which he says “has never happened before” during his career at Pali.

Junior Brent Smith, who last year was Pali’s top finisher at the City Section finals (barely edged out for third), suffered a fluke accident. He was at his brother’s wedding in Belize last week, and was cut by glass, which required stitches in his foot.

Joining Smith on the injury list are seniors Ben Hamer and Finn Cawley.

“We’re not at full strength right now,” said Macias, whose boys took third in city last year behind Granada Hills and El Camino. “Right now, we would be hard pressed to finish in the top six, [but] we hope to be full-strength later on in the season. We’re still developing.”

Senior Kimia Samandi and sophomore Sarah Bentley are among the returning runners who hope to capture a fifth straight city team title.

The coach hopes that working with the new kids—many of whom are from Paul Revere, where teacher/coach Paul Foxson has a strong program—will help solidify the team by city prelims on November 8.

On the girls team, freshman phenom Lila Copeland, who won the city title last November, did not return to Pali this year. But, Sarah Bentley, Brittany Darrow, Kimia Samandi and Elisa Kim, who all placed in the top 10 at the City finals, are back.

“We have won the girls city title the last four years and want to win it again,” said Macias, who warned that “the city is stronger this year, with competition likely from Granada, San Pedro and maybe even El Camino.”

“We’ve stepped up our game this year,” Samandi said. “We have more under classmen that are advanced. Bob has changed our workouts to match our talents.

“I love this whole cross-country team; it’s about the team,” she said. It makes me want to work harder if know I’m helping my team and just not myself.”

At the season’s first meet, The Seaside Invite at San Buenaventura, which included varsity, sophomore and freshman teams, Bentley, a sophomore, took fourth out of 168 competitors (17:42.3) and Darrow, a junior, took 11th (19:02.7).

“I feel we’re much better this year,” Bentley said. “This is a great team and we have great team spirit.”

Junior Ryan Breitman finished second out of 220 runners at the Woodbridge Classic.

During the summer, she was clocking 60 miles a week but is now closer to 40 miles with the season underway. Overall, the girls team of Bentley, Kim, Casandra Herrandez, Maya Datwyler and Alicia Sigworth took third of 16 teams at the Seaside meet. The JV team of Darrow, Sklyar Smith, Jessica Bierschenk, Holland Mueller and Elena Schultz took sixth out of 17. The freshman team of Miranda Shriver, Jennifer Karlan, Molly Tenenbaum, Sophia Klotz and Skylar Rudolph took seventh of 18. For the boys, Brent Smith finished third out of 215 competitors (15:07.8) and freshman Lucas Shriver placed sixth out of 224.

On the team level, the JV team was eighth out of 22, with runners Alec Stewart, Mark Barboza, Hunter Steiman, Patrick Gowen and Trace Kasick.

Three Pali freshman teams competed, led by the fivesome of Lucas Schriver, Mason Cadden, Brent Bailey, Pablo Sandoval Rivas and Jack Zussman, who placed third out of 19 teams.

At the Woodbridge Classic on September 16, Bentley took fourth (17.31.5) out of 134 runners in the varsity division and Schriver took eighth (17:48.3) in the freshman division.

The girls varsity team (Bentley, Schriver, Samandi, Darrow and Kim) placed second out of 19 teams.

Shriver led the Pali freshman boys, finishing eighth among 379 runners in the freshman pack (16:39.5).

Junior Ryan Breitman finished second out of 220 runners in the varsity competition (16:07).

“We have a lot of guys injured right now,” Brietman said. “We have a lot of potential, and many of the underclassmen are doing better than expected.”

His personal goal this year is to break 15:45—currently he’s at 16 flat. “I’ve been doing a lot training on my own,” running between 60-70 miles a week, he said. “I’m probably going to increase that.”

At Woodbridge, the JV team of Alec Stewart, Mark Barbosa, Joseph Pollack, Hunter Steinman and Trace Kasick placed 13th out of 30 teams, and the freshman team of Shriver, Cadden, Bailey, Rivas and Ivan Palma-Gomez was sixth.

To view results for the Bell-Jeff Invitational (held at Griffith Park this past weekend) or just to follow your favorite runner, visit

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