By Leonard COUTIN
The Falcons cross-country team took a road trip north last week to run in an invitational against non-league competitors from Newbury, Camarillo and Channel Islands. Unlike the Falcons’ cross-country course, which has many up and down portions, the Peppertree Park course is mainly flat and offers the athletes a chance to better their times over the same distance.
The CV boys’ varsity leaders continued to change over the course. Kyle Dickinson and Jason Crosthwaite led their squad in the first mile, then Colin FritzGerald and Manav Vats moved to the front as they completed the last loop. Vats, who knows a lot about speed workouts having run the 800m, mile and two mile many times last season, took advantage of the kinder course. He outdistanced the front of the pack on the last loop to win with a time of 16:06.50 followed by teammates FritzGerald (16:13.18) and Armin Cardenas-Nuno (16:17.41).
Coach Evans was obviously pleased with his team and their results.
“The boys looked very good again,” he said. “Manav had a great race and is looking very good. We had a 30-second gap between our first and fifth runner and 36 seconds between one and seven. We had all seven runners in the top 10 places. We are really coming together as a team.”
In boys’ varsity, CV won with 19 points, Camarillo placed second with 54, Channel Islands took third with 86, and Newbury Park had 101. The CV boys’ JV also won with 19 points to 54 for Camarillo.
Before running each race, the Falcon girls prepare much differently than the boys’ team. After four years in the program, seniors Haley Witzeman and Megan Melnyk have learned the importance of preparation before each race. “It’s good to be with teammates before the race,” said Witzeman. “That helps me not over think anything. I just have to trust that we’re ready physically and open to act when the time is right. We all do a team cheer before the race to get the adrenaline pumping.”
The Falcons team followed the Newbury leaders during the first half of the course while the team got its bearings. But once Witzeman felt comfortable, she broke away and grabbed the commanding lead from the leaders in the last mile.
“Running in Peppertree Park was a nice break from the usual hilly courses we run. I was able to use the uphill portion of the course to my advantage,” she said. “It was also nice to see green grass again.”
Winning with an excellent time of 18:38.00, she continued to rally her teammates to the finish line. CV’s Melnyk captured second place (19:10.28) and sophomore Annie Myers placed eighth (19:56.28) running third position for her team.
In the invitational meet scoring format, CV varsity girls were second to Newbury Park 34-39.
“I am very pleased with how we ran. Haley looks great [and] we are still running without a couple of girls,” said Coach Evans. “Newbury Park is a very good team and we were right with them. This is a very good time on this course.”
CV’s Grace McAuley placed 10th (21:09.38) and McKenna Middleton placed 18th.
The next meet will be the Woodbridge Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Great Park. The Falcons are hoping that Rebecca Mencia and Robert McNelis will be able to run.