By Leonard COUTIN
As dawn broke on Saturday morning, the Falcons cross-country team packed up for the long drive to the first Riverside Invitational. This may be the new site of the CIF prelims designated course and Saturday was a type of test run to see if this site could support athletes and spectators while providing a cross-country challenge. The course was originally planned for a golf course – without the grass, structural facilities, paved parking lot, bathrooms and drinking fountains. To put it bluntly, it was a huge empty vacant lot, completely dry and very dusty, providing little or no shelter on the course. The dirt pathway carved out for runners circled the lot with a very narrow finish line that, when filled with spectators, crowded the runners as they approached the final chute. A dry coughing by runners and spectators could be heard continuously from around the course due to the dust.
Despite the conditions, the
Falcon teams performed admirably.
“The Falcon varsity boys and girls ran well,” said Coach Mark Evans.
The 2.5-mile course was just enough for the athletes to test themselves on this flat course.
“The running philosophy for the course would have been to start with confidence, get out fast enough to take a good position, don’t over sprint the first 600-yard straight-away, watch the legs of others [so as] not to be tripped at the start and finally close ranks with each other for support early on,” said Evans.
In Event No. 5, CVHS sophomore Colin FitzGerald joined the leading five runners of the meet hosting team, Martin Luther King HS. Trying to breakup their monopoly on the course was Phillip Thomas, Kyle Dickinson and Robert McNelis as well. The course consisted of a large square with the start and finish lines parallel to each other in the middle of the course. As the runners looped for their final turn, MLK had the first four positions: Tyler Janes (10:39.12), Daniel Gonzalez (10:45.02), Andrew Boebinger (10:45.63) and Mark Werley (10:47.90). FitzGerald placed fifth (10:49.16). CV’s Thomas came in eighth running 10:56.27.
Final scores: MLK placed first with 16 points followed by CV with 66 points, then Beaumont (132), Redlands (182) and La Sierra (182).
Though Evans was overall pleased with the performances – “six guys within 30 seconds” – he added that CV needs to work to tighten the group.
“The King High [School] is very impressive,” Evans said. “We need to work more on running as a pack. I am very happy with how [our athletes] ran … good start to the season.”
In Event No. 6 for the girls, Warren High School runner Gwendolyn Hurtado (12:45.17) took the win followed by Marisa Rodriguez (12:49.76) from La Quinta, Katie Grimes of Beaumont (13:01.98) and Sandra Flores (13:07.04) also from Warren.
Trying to make up yardage were CV runners Rebecca Mencia and Annie Myers who attempted to pass runners on the backside of the field. CV’s Grace McAuley finished 18th (13:47.62) with teammates Mencia running 27th (14:06.66) and Myers placing 28th (14:10.57).
Assessing his runners, Evans said, “The girls ran well. We had a good pack [despite having] two of our top five out of town. We are continuing to improve and are getting stronger.”
Final scores: CV placed in the top six with 148 points. Warren High took top position with 41 points followed by Beaumont (65), Redlands (79), MLK (96) and La Quinta (123).
Coach Evans also expressed some personal concerns about the new course.
“At the CIF prelims the first loop will be run twice. I like the wide start area; [it’s a] long straight before the first turn [and] more like a college cross-country course,” he said.
He added that he thinks the Riverside Utility controls the site and was working on the course and that it should be better by prelims.
“There’s not much we can do about the dust and dirt except hope for rain to pack things down a bit,” Evans said.