By Leonard COUTIN
The Pacific League cross-country season ended on Thursday with finals taking place on the Arcadia High School course. Burroughs’ boys’ varsity captured another League championship title and set their sights on the CIF Division 1 title despite being without lead runner Alexander Hirsch, who was laid up with an injury.
It was Arcadia Apache girls who scored the most points in girls’ varsity winning this year’s league championship title. Burroughs’ top runner, sophomore Emily Virtue, managed to outdistance the Apaches’ Holly Lung, who won Mt. SAC recently. Lung placed second (16:45.87) behind Virtue (16:42.22).
Apache Philip Rocha, who has repeatedly proven he’s one of the nation’s best high school runners, ran a stellar race to set a new course record (13:57.96). It was déjà vu for Falcon senior Philip Thomas who returned to the same course he ran as a sophomore. Taking the win then in his race, Thomas on Thursday managed to pass teammate Colin FitzGerald with 200 yards remaining to capture second place (14:37.99) behind Rocha. Sophomore FitzGerald, who led his team most of this season, ran an excellent time of 14:44.55 to place third.
“We had a very good league finals meet,” said Coach Mark Evans. “We wanted to be closer to Arcadia and Burroughs but had a big gap from third to fourth man in the varsity boys. We will keep working on that. The main thing is that we ran a solid race and will move on to CIF prelims. It has been a couple years since we had two boys under 15:00 on the Arcadia course.”
Other Falcons times included Armen Cardenas (15:05.99) taking eighth, Zach Johnson placed 19th (15:37.00), Kyle Dickinson 22nd (15:48.54), Manan Vats 25th (15:54.53) and Robert McNelis 26th (16:17.19).
Team standings were Burroughs in first followed by Arcadia, Crescenta Valley and Burbank.
It was a difficult day for the Falcons’ girls who faced the powerhouse Apache squad along with the other two leading team contenders, Burbank and Burroughs. Falcon senior Grace McAuley, who many consider the heart of the team, continued to lead her team to place 12th (18:39.88). Falcon teammate Rebecca Mencia captured 15th (19:08.21), Elizabeth Hart 19th ((20:09.64), Emily Perkins 23rd (20:35.70), Eva Valero 24th (20:38.41) Hanna Leines 26th (20:50.24) and Sojeong Kang 27th (20:52.14).
“The girls had a good race. We did about what we expected,” said Evans. “Grace … really worked on moving up throughout the race. She had a very good time on the course and we are ready for prelims.”
Burbank’s top runner Candela Fernandez, who placed in state last year, took fourth running 16:57.55.
Team standings: Arcadia followed by Burbank, Burroughs and Crescenta Valley.
The top three teams in the Pacific League will now travel to the CIF prelims that will be held Saturday at the new Riverside course. In the past the League has been very successful in obtaining CIF status as well as state placement. The Division 1 teams will run as early as 7:45 a.m.