By Leonard COUTIN
The first official Pacific League cross-country meet was held on Thursday hosted by the Falcons team at Crescenta Valley Park. Attending were teams from Arcadia, Burbank, Burroughs, CV, Glendale, Hoover, Pasadena and Muir high schools. State champion Arcadia graduated most of its lead runners in June resulting in a level playing field for this year’s competitors.
Returning on the Apache team was junior Phillip Rocha, who made his presence known when he took the lead early on. Already proven as one of the top runners at the Woodbridge Invitational, Rocha finished first with a time of 15:40.22. Garret Boulais of Burroughs looked strong throughout the course and placed second (15:47.94) ahead of teammate Elias Hoxsie (16:06.75). Burbank lead runner Enrique Vizcaino placed fourth (16:13.73) and Burroughs grabbed the sixth and seventh position in front of CV’s Colin FitzGerald who took eighth and teammate Vat Manav who placed ninth (16:21.88).
The meet was scored as a dual meet and Burroughs’ team came out on top beating Arcadia who took second and CV’s team placing third.
“We ran well,” said CV Coach Mark Evans. “The boys have a good group but we need to move the group up in the race.”
Burbank’s star female runner Candela Fernandez, who had a strong season last year and ran in the CIF and state finals, took advantage of her speed and endurance to outdistance CV leaders early in the first mile. Relaxed and strong, Fernandez won the league meet in record time (17:57.91). Burbank’s Coach Darin Wolf said he felt confident that his star runner would do well this year.
“We need to get her some competition for her to excel,” said Wolf of Fernandez.
Challenged by the Bulldogs, Falcon lead runners Megan Melnyk took second (19:12.47) with teammate Haley Witzeman following (19:13.21).
Both seemed a little off their pace.
“Haley and Megan both had good races and continue to improve,” said Evans. “We still need to work on the gap from the front two to the rest of our group.”
CV’s third runner, Rebecca Mencia, placed 13th (20:30.59) and Annie Myers took 14th (20:36.34).
The Apache girls worked well together and secured key spots for their team. Cindy Hoang took fourth (19:29.41), Holly Lung placed fifth (19:30.50), and Rachel Hunag sixth (19:39.56). The Apaches also scored winning spots as 10th and 16th.
Final scores saw the Apaches taking the win followed by Burbank, which beat CV by one point.