By Leonard COUTIN
The 45th annual Arcadia Invitational was held during spring break, offering a weekend spotlighting some of the most talented high school track and field athletes to be assembled in one location.
Record ranking finishes contributed to the highly competitive competition both Friday night and Saturday. Meet director Richard Gonzalez set the Saturday stage in hosting two sessions that exceeded 12 hours. A larger open competition took place in the morning with the evening hosting 51 invitational events.
CV athletes participated in six races over the two-day period. The first race entered was the sprint medley relay. The Falcon team of James Maturan, Justin Springfield, Alex Damla and Matt Williams ran some personal best times with the relay team placing fourth (3:38.58). During the exchanges, many runners dropped the baton or lost their grasp with some runners falling before exchanges were completed.
The 4×1600 relay team of Mike Duncan, Nick Beatty, Gabe Collison and Aaron Esparza placed sixth (18:10.35).
The girls 4×1600 relay team raced against its rival the Arcadia Apaches. The Falcon team, comprised of Cali King, Megan Melnyk, Brooke Moultrie and Hannah Ruby, placed 11th (21:42.17) and Arcadia took sixth (21:37.97).
Falcon Mike Duncan participated in the men’s mile run placing 14th (4:39.40). In the women’s distance medley relay, Kayleigh Carrillo with teammates King, Ruby and Melnyk placed 18th (12:55.26). In the men’s distance medley relay, the team of Duncan, Beatty, Williams and Damla ran one of its best races to place 10th (10:48.78).
Part of the success of the Invitational is its ability to host 130 competitions featuring more than 1,000 athletes from 27 states and Canada.
Ethan Cochran, a Newport Harbor High School senior, earned the rank of No. 1 in the state with his shot put of 62-10 and won the discus throw on Saturday with a 209-8 throw.
In the 3200m, Simi Valley sophomore sensation Sarah Baxter responded to the aggressive pace set by senior Laura Hollander by breaking away in the last lap to win for the second consecutive year 10:08.11. She later ran in the 4x1600m relay placing second behind La Costa Canyon. Woodbridge graduate Christine Babcock’s set the Arcadia Invitational record in 2008 with a time of 10:04.03 that still stands today.
National Nike cross country champion senior Futsum Zeinasellassie from Indianapolis made his appearance in the men’s 3200m invitational with a winning time of 8:47.75. Bernie Montoya, a junior from Cibola, Ariz., took second (8:48.25) and Craig Nowak, a senior from Texas ran third 8:49.12.
Planning for the event begins in October, said Gonzalez, who looks forward to the excitement the Invitational generates.
“The best part about the meet is always the kids,” said Gonzalez. “Many kids point to this weekend and when they fare well, it’s also rewarding to witness.”
Though Southern California provides the majority of volunteers, Gonzalez said that some do come from a further distance.
“Our chief of officials come from Colorado each year,” he said. “Our starters hail from the Los Angeles unit and are approved by the CIF. Their reputation as a unit in terms of officiating efficient meets is excellent.”