By Leonard COUTIN
The 2013 CIF Championship Cross-Country Finals were held on Saturday on the prestigious world class Mt. SAC cross-country course. The top five teams and individuals on non-qualifying teams must be one of the top five finishers on a non-qualifying team and finish among the top 20 to move forward to state.
Running in Division 1 Race 3, CV runners Gabe Collison, Nick Beatty and Matt Manalo knew the last time the Falcons made it to the state finals was in 2007 and were ready to lead the Falcons again.
Collison and Beatty jumped out quickly on the first 800m with Collison taking the lead from Arcadia Apache Estevan De La Rosa and Philip Rocha. Reaching the two-mile mark, Collison lost some ground on the downhill run as he headed towards the back portion of the course.
Beatty kept a solid pace and continued to stay strong running with the second pack leaders. Teammate Manalo was close by trying to ward off the advances from Burbank lead runners Elliot Choe and Arsen Mkrtchyan.
Reaching the finish straight away, Dana Hill High School sophomore Jake Ogden pushed hard to take the lead, running one of the fastest times of the day (14:41) while Loyola junior Robert Bryant gave chase to grab second (14:43). Apache senior De La Rosa, who suffered a leg injury weeks ago, placed third (14:44) with teammate sophomore Rocha taking fifth (14:50). Warren’s Benjamin Gonzalez managed break up the Apache strong hold, running fourth (14:45) with teammates also taking key positions of sixth and seventh to rival a win in team standings against the Apaches. Of note was Arcadia’s Josue Gonzalez who ran one of his best all season to capture 11th (15:05).
“We knew we had a very good team this summer and the beginning of the season. [We] had some injuries in the middle and did not run as well as we would have liked in some meets,” Head Coach Mark Evans said. “It is special that we have come back to run as well as we thought we could.”
“This was a very fast team race,” added Evans. “It is faster than the 2007 team ran.”
Finals team standing was Warren first (69) followed by Arcadia (77), Dana Hills (111), Loyola 4th (139) and Crescenta Valley (169). Burbank team took ninth (219).
Arcadia’s Apache girls, led by the Pacific League champion Roni Yamane who placed second at the CIF prelims (17:52), ran in Race 1, Division 1 at the first race of the finals. Her greatest competition came from Great Oaks sophomore Destiny Collins and teammate Haley Dorris.
Bolting out in front of the pack, Collins and Yamane battled the switchbacks up the mountain and down to the second half of the course. Great Oaks was strong in front while the Apache team second runner Madison Ross ran in the top 30s. Reaching the final 200m, Collins was ready to post the first best time of the day (17:10) with Arcadia’s Yamane scoring second (17:19) and Great Oaks Dorris placing third (17.19). Apache runners did not qualify to make the team finals.
Flintridge Prep boys and girls had their hard work all year pay off. Both the boys and girls teams won a first place CIF championship title in Division 5. Senior Alan Yoho won his race in a record time of 15:10 and sophomore Jack Van Scoter placed second (15:19).
Team standings were first for Flintridge Prep (56), followed by Thacher (70), Desert Christian/Lan (143), Crossroads (163) and Woodcrest Christian (175).
For the Flintridge Prep Girls Race 7, ninth grader Natalie O’Brien took the first position for her team winning fourth (19:04) with teammates Laura Ashley placing sixth (19:14) and Lacy Cohen 10th (19:28).
Final scoring was Flintridge Prep first (52), followed by Woodcrest Christian (117), St. Margaret’s (152), Thacher (159), and Pomona Catholic (187.)
The state CIF championship will be held on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Woodward Park in Fresno. Someone to watch is Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley who won her fourth CIF championship title. She will attempt another milestone in cross-country records by going after her fourth state championship title.