By Leonard COUTIN
The Woodbridge Invitational is one of the largest invitationals in the Orange County area. In this pre-season time, it offers runners a chance to compete against other athletes from across state. On Saturday, the Great Park facility, which is under construction, offered runners a flat course with several loops that ended in an open field allowing visitors to view the finish line easily. Both the boys and girls rated varsity races were held at the end of the day.
From the start of the boys’ varsity race, Falcon Jason Crosthwaite was aggressive, sprinting away from the starting line and managing not to get blocked in the first part of the course. He took the lead over his squad for the first mile at a fast pace but fellow Falcons Colin FritzGerald and Manav Vats soon closed the gap. FritzGerald made his move early during the second mile, taking back the lead and holding it to the final finish. Running 27th with a time of 15:17.39, Coach Evans said he was very pleased. Vats ran second for the team and placed 43rd (15:30.94). Crosthwaite was 52nd.
Evans was pleased with the boys’ performance.
“Colin FitzGerald finished as our No. 1 guy,” he said. “I think this position could change with each race and that would be fine. We have five guys capable of being our No. 1 runner. They will only get stronger.”
The CV boys’ team managed to take fifth place in the overall standing of the race.
The Falcon girls faced some keen competition. Dual leaders Megan Melnyk and Haley Witzeman got out quickly while many of the athletes felt strong pushing and shoving from competitors. Melnyk appeared confident and took the lead spot for the Falcons squad. Running with the top 20, she looked determined when she made her move throughout the course. Successfully passing other runners at the last mile, Melnyk was able to capture eighth place running 17:31.00 with teammate Witzeman taking a strong 21st 17:48.64. Teammate Rebecca Mencia, who had been out with an injury, placed 66th (18:54.15) in her first race of the year. Annie Myers followed, coming in 67th (18:54.53).
In the final ranking for the event, the Falcon girls placed 11th.
Evans said, “The girls also ran very well. Megan had a great race and will hopefully gain some confidence in her fitness and ability to race. Haley ran very well [though she] may have started to kick a little soon, but it was a good time and good placing.”