By Leonard COUTIN
The Crescenta Valley High School cross-country season opened Thursday with many promising performances by the Falcons. The Falcons hosted their first non-league invitational on their home course at Crescenta Valley Park. Attending were visiting schools from Alemany, Santee (an L.A. city school), Temple City and Notre Dame Academy. Finishing the first mile, CVHS senior Jason Crosthwaite led teammates Armin Cardenas, Kyle Dickinson and Manav Vats in front of their competitors. Runner Justin Martinez from Santee showed promise running with the Falcons lead squad around the course.
“It was a good opening meet for us. I am very pleased with how the team ran,” said CVHS Head Coach Mark Evans. “The boys did well with only a 30-second gap among our top five and that is without one of our top runners. This is a good sign. Most of the boys set personal bests for the course. Jason Crosthwaite had a very impressive race. If this is an indication of what he can do then it will really help the team.”
Coming around the last loop of the course, Falcon Colin FitzGerald managed to overtake his team and win with a time of 16:42 over teammate Crosthwaite who placed second (16:48). Martinez of Santee captured third (16:48).
Missing from the varsity race at Thursday’s meet were Robert McNelis and Philip Thomas.
“We have a variety of small injuries and illnesses,” explained Evans. “We should have most [athletes] back by the start of league.” Evans allowed Thomas, who was returning with a leg injury from track, to run JV in the hopes that this would take the pressure off his legs. In the JV competition, Thomas won with a time of 17:48.
The duo of Haley Witzeman and Megan Melnyk led the CV varsity girls. Witzeman, who had an excellent summer training program, is hoping to provide her team with strong leadership and support this year.
“I trained hard and changed my diet, Witzeman said. “I eat a lot of fruit now. I feel I am in good shape.”
Melnyk, who also trained hard over the summer, is already facing the pressure of AP (advance placement) classes and the long hours of training. Balancing a schedule of class work and training can be difficult.
“I felt myself tightening up during the race,” Melnyk said. “[But] it will get better.”
Coach Evans was pleased with his girls’ scores.
“The girls ran well,” he said. “Haley ran a very controlled hard race. We have to get the others closer to Haley and Megan. Our gap is too big right now. It will improve.”
The Falcons scored the first four places and 10th, 11th and 12th. Witzeman took the win with a time of 19:13, Melnyk placed second (19:51), Annie Meyers nabbed third (21:02), Samantha Bernardo placed fourth (21:03). Missing were Falcon runners with injuries Rebecca Mencia and Amanda Burch.