By Leonard COUTIN
The Pacific League cross-country finals exceeded expectations on Thursday when Crescenta Valley, Arcadia and Burbank high schools girls’ varsity teams tied for first place.
Few imagined that history was about to be made when they lined the course to cheer on the runners. According to CVHS head coach Mark Evans, a three-way tie has not happened in 20, or possibly 30, years of competition.
Arcadia and Burbank scored wins at the dual meets over CV; CV scored its win at the league finals. When all the points were added for the total meets it was realized that the three schools had accumulated the same number of points.
Scoring big numbers for the Falcons came from dual senior captains Haley Witzeman and Megan Melnyk. The pair led their team physically and emotionally all season.
Having a successful PR (personal record) race at Mt. SAC, Witzeman improved her personal best course time on Thursday to take second (18:41.09). This also earned her a spot as one of the top five Falcons girl runners who ran their best time on CV’s home course at Crescenta Valley Park.
“It was great to finally be able to run a good time on the CV course,” Witzeman said. “It’s hard to get a lower time on it, so I was really glad we had the opportunity to run league finals there. I felt good and I was so thankful to be healthy and injury-free. The other girls on the team ran really well, too; this was a good race to show that all of our training paid off.”
Melnyk, who had been suffering from a cold all week, was not able to engage in the race as she typically does. She picked up third place running 18:51.88, far below her personal best of 18:30 in the 2013 season.
When asked what she thought of running her last season on the course, the senior praised her teammates’ performance as a great victory.
“The focus was on the team. We went into it thinking that we wanted to beat Burbank. When we beat both Burbank and Arcadia we were so happy because we had gotten third place at the first two league dual meets.”
Adding to the strong Falcons performance were points made by Rebecca Mencia, Annie Meyers, Elizabeth Hart, Samantha Bernardo and Grace McAuley.
Burbank’s star runner junior Candela Fernandez claimed the first place position, running the second fastest time on the Falcons course (17:57.91). Arcadia coach Michael Feraco-Eberle held back his top two runners to prevent further injuries to his athletes. His top soph-frosh runner sprained her leg on the course when running earlier. Stepping in was Arcadia’s middle distance runner, Laura Guidolin, who placed fourth (18:59.88).
Burbank’s lead runner sophomore Kira Bochard took fifth (19:20.09) followed by teammate Caroline Adams (19:24.41). Burroughs’ top points came from ninth grader Emily Virture who captured eighth (19:47.62), Heidi Eligio 10th (19:53.25) and Molly Stapelfeldt 16th (20:26.53). In the final scoring, Crescenta Valley came in first (40), followed by Burbank (57), Arcadia (60), Burroughs (88) Glendale (126), Hoover (181) and Pasadena (202).
No surprises were found in the boys’ league finals varsity race. Apache Phillip Rocha took an early lead and won with an impressive time of 15.22.88. Burroughs’ Garrett Boulais placed second (15:44.72) followed by Shane Thompson (15:44.93). CV trailed Burbank’s Enrique Vizcaino finished seventh (15:59.09), Manav Vats took eighth (16:03.31) and teammate Colin FitzGerald placed ninth (16:06.69). Arcadia’s Chris Lee captured 10th (16:13.18).
“We ran great races,” said Evans. “The boys are still not fully healthy but everyone stepped up and they ran a great race. Girls really put together a great race. We are ready to go into CIF.”
The CIF prelims will be held at Mt. SAC with the Division 1 Pacific League teams being placed together for very first time. Since the heat races have been reduced from four races to three, this will be the first time that the teams from the same league will face each other so early in CIF competition. The boys’ race begins at 1:47 p.m.; girls at 2:45 p.m.