All eyes will be on Mt. SAC this Saturday when it again hosts the CIF cross-country finals beginning at 7:30 a.m. The top five teams in each prelims heat, plus the fastest team time among the three sixth places in the division, qualified for the finals this past weekend. The prelims were also held at Mt. SAC. In individual competition, runners must have finished among the top eight in their heat to qualify.
Runners from CVHS Falcons, Arcadia Apaches, Burbank Bulldogs and Burroughs Indians were ready to hit the course. La Cañada and Flintridge boys’ and girls’ teams were also fighting to place in their divisions as well.
The top three individual spots were captured by Arcadia’s Philip Rocha (15:11), Branden Randall of Roosevelt (15:11) and Benjamin Gonzalez of Warren (15:18). The top three athletes from CV were Manav Mats who placed 13th (15:47), Colin FitzGerald took 15th (15:57) and Armin Cardenas-Nuno placed 17th (15:59). Senior Jason Crosthwaite worked the course running one of his best times to take 19th (16:02) over Burbank’s first runner Enrique Vizcaino. Falcons junior Philip Thomas grabbed an important 22nd place running 16:08.
In team competition, timing was tight. CV placed third behind Burroughs and Arcadia to automatically qualify for the finals.
“They had a great day,” said CVHS Coach Mark Evans of his runners. “[There was a] 21-second gap between the first and fifth places.”
For the girls, Maiya Larsen (17:55) of Great Oak finished first followed by Ashley Cahalan (18:05) of Vista Murrieta and Desiree Stinger (18:11) from Great Oak. From CV, Haley Witzeman took the lead over teammate Megan Melnyk after the first mile. Running the up hill portion with strength and power, Witzeman placed herself among the top six in the final mile. Finishing sixth, Witzeman peeled another 20 seconds off her PR (personal record) time running 18:20.
Melnyk ran tight during the course to stay with the top 10 as they approached the third mile. She finished 13th (18:49). A harsh moment occurred when CV’s Rebecca Mencia tripped and bruised early in the course, but she managed to get back up and retain a solid place in the pack to finish 23rd (19:22). Elizabeth Hart ran one of her best races of the year to place 36th (19:49) which added valuable points to the team score. The last points came from Annie Meyers who placed 45th (20:08), Grace McAuley place 64th (20:48), and Samantha Bernardo placed 95th (21:37).
The Lady Falcons knew it was going to be close for sixth place, and were understandably pleased when they found out they placed.
“The girls were sixth place so they did not automatically qualify but they had the fastest time of the sixth place finishers from the other two Division 1 heats,” said Evans. “Haley [Witzeman] ran great. The other girls also ran well. Rebecca fell early in the race and scraped her hip up pretty good. She kept going and had a great race. Elizabeth Hart had a big race, also; her best time on the course.”