By Leonard COUTIN
The CV Falcons were ablaze at the CIF cross-country prelims to claim second place in their Race 8 of Division 1 men’s heat. The goal was to qualify for CIF finals at Mt. SAC taking place on Saturday.
The top four teams qualified for the team finals and the top six individuals outside the team also qualified.
Falcon Gabe Collision and teammate Nick Beatty took off with lead Arcadia runners clocking in the first 400 in 63 seconds. No surprise that Apaches Philip Rocha, Jarrick Wenslow and Josue Gonzalez were at their sides as they climbed the first switchback heading up the mountain. Falcon senior Beatty made his move on the downhill section to lead the pack to the next series of mountains appropriately called Poop-out Hill.
Beatty maintained the lead with Collison holding tight in fifth position. As the runners came off the back portion of Reservoir Hill heading up the front, the Apaches gained the lead. Rocha held onto it with the Falcons trailing toward the last section of the three-mile course.
Beatty and Collison fought their way to the finish with Beatty making one last push to take fourth (15:24), running one of his best times this season. Arcadia posted the first three positions – Rocha in first (15:08) followed by Wenslow (15:17) and Gonzalez (15:21). Collison placed seventh (15:28).
“I thought the boys team ran very well. We are excited about this,” said Coach Mark Evans. “This was a team effort. We will need another team effort on Saturday to make it to the state meet.”
Finals standing were Great Oaks in first followed by CV, Arcadia, Walnut and West Ranch.
The CV Falcon girls, led by Megan Melnyk, had to again battle rival Arcadia in Race 3 at the prelims. Arcadia’s lead runner Roni Yamane put some distance between her and her competitors from the start. Coming down Reservoir Hill towards the finish, Yamane was being chased by Capistrano Valley’s Grace Schafer, who managed to overcome her on the airstrip to take first (17:37). Yamane placed second (17:52).
The Arcadia team qualified with a second place and will move on.
The CV girls, who have had a strong season, unfortunately came up short at the prelims. The team placed fifth in the race and will not move forward to the finals.
Individually, Melnyk placed eighth (18:22), missing the mark to make it to the CIF finals. Rebecca Mencia, who took the second position for the team, placed 25th (19:08), with teammates Haley Witzeman picking up 27th (19:15) and Erika Johnson taking 38th (19:38).
“The girls ran a good race. We believed we had a good shot to qualify and thought we did,” said Evans. “We have six of the seven back next year. We will be a better team.”