By Leonard COUTIN
Each week Crescenta Valley High School Head Coach Mark Evans prepares his varsity cross-country Falcon boys for the unexpected. The preparation seems to be paying off as the balance of power continues to shift within the Pacific League. According to PrepCalTrack.com editor Rich Gonzalez, the Division 1 stats now list Burroughs and Burbank fourth, with Arcadia in eighth and Crescenta Valley 10th. But there are several wild cards that cannot be discounted as each team grows stronger as they approach the CIF prelims on Nov. 14.
That position shift was evident on Thursday when the Falcons hosted the second Pacific League cross-country meet on their home course at Crescenta Valley Park. Striking out immediately for a better position against cross-town rivals Burroughs and Arcadia was a priority if the Falcons were to take control of the race. The seniors especially recognized that since this meet would be their last time running on CV’s course posting good times were essential. League finals are scheduled for Nov. 5 at Arcadia Park.
Arcadia’s ace runner Phillip Rocha dominated the pack, running unchallenged for the entire race. His speed earned him a spot as the fourth fastest runner on the Falcons’ course running 15:00.53. Unfortunately the five-time state championship Apache team did not fare as well.
Arcadia’s top runners were not on the starting line leaving a gap that the Falcon duo of Colin FitzGerald and Phillip Thomas easily filled. FitzGerald placed third (15:44.81) and Thomas fourth (15:53.62). Not surprising, Burroughs sophomore Alexander Hirsch (who kept a cool head throughout the race) grabbed second place (15:39.62) to lead his team to their first Pacific League victory with all five members of the team scoring in the top 10 positions.
Additional CV senior times were Armin Cardenas-Nuno placing eighth (16:02.94), Kyle Dickinson 13th (16:18.68) and Robert McNelis 16th (16.25.50). Notably absent was Falcon Zach Johnson.
“It was a great meet on Thursday,” said Evans. “The boys’ race went out fast and there was a whole group driving the pace. They stayed together and pushed/pulled each other to fast times. Most of the boys PR’d in this race.”
Overall standings: Burroughs in first followed by CV, Arcadia, Burbank and Glendale.
The Falcon girls were no match for the Apaches and Burroughs teams. Missing was key runner Grace McAuley, which did not help the final results.
“Grace and a couple girls had a variety of illness or injury and we needed to hold them out,” explained Evans. “They should be back and ready for Mt. SAC and league finals.”
CV senior Rebecca Mencia worked hard to regroup her squad over the course. She posted in the top 12th position running 20:29.75. The dominant runners of the day were, once again, Burroughs sophomore Emily Virtue (18:28.50) who placed first followed by Burbank senior Candela Fernandez (18:38.09) – the same line-up as the previous League meet.
The first mile resulted in slower times when the girls crossed the bridge and passed the first mile mark. But Virtue reacted quickly to resume her pace. Fernandez tried to make a move the last mile over Virtue but was not successful.
The Arcadia girls picked up the slack and worked hard on the final loop. Leading the Apaches was Jasmine He who finished third (18:47.47), followed by teammates Eryca Yamane (18:55.84) and Holly Lung (18:57.18). Apache Cindy Hoang took seventh (19:19.88) and Victoria Rodriquez placed 13th (20:34.72). All five Apaches scored valuable team points to secure the win.
Overall team standings: Apache in first followed by Burroughs, Burbank, CV and Hoover.