By Leonard COUTIN
The Southern Section CIF cross-country finals were held Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC). Ten races were scheduled. Going into the finals Crescenta Valley Falcon boys were ranked 10th.
The three-mile course, which has been around for over 65 years, boasts an abundance of rolling hills and different terrains that athletes must cover. All five boys and girls divisions were represented with the top seven teams advancing to the CIF state meet along with the top five individuals. The CIF state meet will be held at Woodward Park in Clovis on Nov. 28.
Pacific League winners Burroughs and Arcadia continued to demonstrate a strong presence entering the finals. Apache senior Phillip Rocha, a top ranked individual, had already proven himself at various invitationals. Expectations were that his last appearance at Mt. SAC would be a memorable one. Rocha had clocked 14.24 two weeks earlier at the Mt. SAC Invitational, a second off the course record.
Tension was building as the teams lined up on the airstrip starting line. Rocha got out fast as he spearheaded the leaders around the first two loops before heading for the hills. Falcon Philip Thomas stepped up his game and tucked behind Rocha for the first two miles while teammate Colin FitzGerald position himself farther back in the pack waiting for his opportunity.
Taking advantage of the downhill position of Reservoir Hill, Rocha gained speed heading back to the airstrip towards the finish line. Although he was off his record pace, he still grabbed the win running 14:42.7. Spenser Dodds of Great Oaks captured second (14:44.9). CV sophomore FitzGerald took advantage of the final hill to pass teammate Thomas to finish 11th running 15:30.2. Despite running a fabulous first two-mile, Thomas (15:44.6) came in 20th. It appeared he did not have the strength needed to hit the last mile with the same strength shown in the first two.
CV’s third man, Armin Cardenas, plagued by an injury early in the season, continued to be a strong competitor and grabbed 36th position for the team (16:00.1). Additional Falcons placers were Kyle Dickinson – 63rd (16:21.36), Artin Allahverdian, who only recently came on to help varsity – 100th (17:19.4), Robert McNelis – 107th (17:43.4), and Manan Vats – 109th (18:06.8).
CV final team score placed them ninth. Overall team standings were Great Oak in first followed by Dana Hills, Ventura, California and Arcadia.
“We had a great season. We were ranked 10th in the division throughout the season and finished ninth,” said CV Coach Mark Evans. “We beat teams that had consistently beaten us during the season. We missed the state but had a good race. It is a tough division and all the teams are very close. Colin was 11th in the race and the third individual on a non-qualifying team to qualify for state. He has worked hard all season. I know he had set this as a goal all season.”
The Arcadia boys managed to advance to fifth position while Burroughs gained the sixth spot. Both teams will move on to state.
For the Division 1 girls, Walnut freshman Chloe Arriaga took first place (17:40.7) fighting off Emily Virtue of Burroughs who secured second (17:45). Virtue continued to drive hard right until the end but was unable to beat out Arriaga.
The Apaches were led by Holly Lung who placed fifth (18:01.6) and Jasmine He in sixth (18:02.3). The Apaches won seventh place to move forward, and the Burroughs girls scored 10th to conclude a great season. Virtue will individually move forward to race at state. Burbank’s’ Candela Fernandez placed 14th and did not make the top five individual spots to qualify for state.
La Cañada’s Katie Scoville ran an exceptional race capturing the win in Division 4 girls with a time of 17:53.6. Unfortunately her team placed ninth. She will attend the state meet as an individual.
Flintridge Prep boys and girls teams managed to sweep the first place titles in Division 5. Senior Jack Van Scoter ran 15:12.6 to win and led his team to a low team score of 37 points. The Flintridge girls scored 24 points to win the division title. Led by sophomore Sophie Gitlin, who took third place running (18:49.4), were freshman Sasha Codiga who grabbed fourth (18:51.7) and junior Natalie O’Brien who placed fifth (19:07.1).