By Leonard COUTIN
This past weekend the Crescenta Valley running community celebrated the 48th Annual Staub/Barnes Cross-country Invitational. The event honors the legacy of two men, Kenny Staub, GUSD athletic director, and John Barnes, the former Glendale High School cross-country and track teams coach.
The Staub/Barnes Invitational, held at Crescenta Valley Park, hosts many of the best Southern California running teams and provides a total of 16 races. This year more than 37 schools participated. The varsity boys and girls were broken into three divisions. Each of the varsity races concluded with some impressive victories by local talented runners.
From the start, the Falcons varsity boys knew to keep their attention on cross-town rival the Burroughs Indians. Despite the Falcons scoring big at the first league meet, the Burroughs team on Saturday was equipped with additional runners who did not participate in the last varsity race. Falcon Colin FitzGerald took the lead coming into the first mile mark. He was closely followed by four Highland runners then CV’s Phillip Thomas and Kyle Dickerson. Burroughs also had a strong presence demonstrated by all the runners tightly bunched together.
Heading down the course and crossing over to the up and down back trails, Burroughs’ lead man Alexander Hirsch and Highland’s Camden Smith put some distance between themselves and the pack. They were able to maintain that distance to the end with Highland lead runner Smith taking the win (15:47.09), followed by sophomore Burroughs’ Hirsch (15:48.69). Leo Olivia of Highland placed third, followed by Timothy Wells of Burroughs (15:57.78), then Falcons FitzGerald in fifth (15:58.93) and teammate Thomas in sixth (16:01.72).
Crescenta Valley Head Coach Mark Evans was pleased with the boys’ performance.
“The boys varsity ran very well,” Evans said. “We tried to run a controlled race and work on keeping our group together. They are faster than they were at this time last year.”
Final team score: Burroughs first with 36 followed by CV 45, Highland 54, Del Campo 116, Newbury Park 119, Knight 195, and Canyon 200.
The Falcons girls were without two of their strongest runners, Grace McAuley and Rebecca Mencia who were studying for their SAT tests, said Evans. For this reason the girls ran in the Division 2 race.
Falcon Annie Meyers led the pack through the first mile and most of the course. It was the last 800 yards at the final loop that hurt her position. Teresa Castillo of Bravo Medica grabbed the opportunity to take the win (19:26.91), followed by Nevaeh Walla of Moorpark (19:27.34) and Golden Valley’s Madisyn Gudino (20:33.53). Meyers was able to nab fourth (20:46.97) with teammate Elizabeth Hart placing eighth (21:07.00).
Coach Evans was pleased with his girls.
“The girls ran well,” he said. “They stepped up. They all had good races.”
In the Division 1 girls’ race, sophomore Emily Virtue of Burroughs took a commanding lead over the pack never looking back. She built on her performance at last week’s race at the first Pacific League meet when she beat out state champion Candela Fernandez of Burbank. Virtue is showing a lot of promise and may be a state contender this year. Her first place time at Staub/ Barnes was 18:25.69.