By Leonard COUTIN
The 2014 Asics Clovis Invitational was held Saturday outside of Fresno at Woodward Park, which is also the site for the CIF state cross-country finals. Runners from across California value the experience of running the course before the state finals while competing against some of the top schools.
Falcons Colin FitzGerald and Megan Melnyk took the lead for the varsity team. Running the course for the first time, Colin ran well and placed 15th (16:13.05) with teammate Jason Crosthwaite running 19th (16:18.50). Robert McNelis, who was on the injured list, rallied to place 116th (17:20.12).
“We ran very well at the Clovis Invite,” said CVHS Coach Mark Evans. “We were missing two [male] varsity athletes who were taking SATs. But the boys were still able to take second in the regular varsity race.”
The top five Falcon runners placed within 26 seconds. The CV boys placed second in the overall standing in Division 1 varsity race behind the Clovis team and ahead of Redondo that placed third.
The sweepstakes race saw Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello, Idaho taking an early lead on the course and continued with no challenges. He won with a stellar time of 15:01. Kasey Knevelbaard of Immanuel took second (15:12) ahead of the Arcadia’s star junior Philip Rocha who ran 15:14 and took third. The Great Oak team again showed they were the team to beat by capturing first in the teams’ standing with Canyon of Anaheim placing second followed by Claremont.
For the Falcon girls what was missing in the eyes of Megan Melnyk was co-runner Haley Witzeman. Valued for their leadership and perseverance, the duo knows how to rally their team. Unfortunately Witzeman is coming off the injured list leaving a lead spot with a gap for the valued team points.
But Melnyk did what her coach expected: she ran hard, enduring the hilly course, managing some extra energy to pass several runners before the finish line to take second place with a time of 18:39.91, her personal best on this course. Melnyk edged out Kaitlin Cartwright from Amador Valley (18:40.74).
“The girls ran well,” said Evans. “Megan moved well in the last 300 meters to overtake two girls and place second in a PR on the course. We really competed very well and are ready for good races at the league on Thursday.”
Rebecca Mencia will be needed to climb the charts for the Falcons. Mencia managed to run 37th (19:43.79) placing second for the team and will be a valuable ace in the hole if she can start running as is hoped. Witzeman, running in regular tennis shoes since her foot injury, managed to place third for her team and took 60th (20:10.36). Team standing was Yucaipa in first followed by Redondo then Amador Valley. CV placed eighth.