By Leonard COUTIN
The Falcons cross-country team celebrated a successful year at the annual awards banquet held on Thursday at CV High School. The audience of about 175 included runners, family and friends who were on hand to celebrate a year of accomplishment.
Varsity lead runners Gabe Collison and Megan Melnyk received the MPV awards for their numerous wins and team support during the past season. The Falcons are not only a group of impressive athletes, but are academically strong as well. This year more than 39 runners earned a grade point average over 3.5.
Most improved male awards were presented to Matt Owens, Manav Vats and Philip Thomas. Most improved female was Tess Posso.
The Coaches’ Awards went to Matt Manalo, Nick Beatty, Andrew Hart, Connor Witzeman and Amber Bolstad. Manalo will be remembered for his witty speech about Coach Evans and his devotion to his runners.
All the coaches were praised by their students for their long hours and continued support in building a quality team. Graduating senior Erika Johnson was recognized by her lower classmen – a tradition that was established years ago by others participants.
Though the banquet signaled the end of the season, the Falcons still had another race to run. The annual Footlocker West Regional 2013 Cross Country Championships were held at Mt. SAC on Saturday. CV sent runners Haley Witzeman and Nick Beatty to participate.
Coming at the end of a long season, Witzeman did well, running her fastest time ever on that course.
“Haley had a very good race,” said Evans. “She was in a race in which she could work on the strategies that we talked about and really implement them. She ran her fastest time on the course, which is tough to do after a long season. That really shows her determination and competitiveness.”
Witzeman took the win (19:11.5) over senior Quincy Van Orden (19:18) from Idaho and Lynzi Deeter (19:19.1) of Utah.
Falcon senior Beatty ran in the Footlockers seeded race. This event is one of many that are held in different regions of the United States to determine the top running athletes who will run compete in Balboa Park in San Diego on Saturday. The four regions include Midwest, northeast, west and south. The top 10 boys and girls seeded races qualified for the Balboa Park competition.
The unexpected rainfall quickly turned the course into a runner’s nightmares. The clay soil stuck to the athletes’ feet, adding inches of soil to their shoes, in addition to the constant slipping and sliding the athletes faced on the up and down portions of the hilly course. Beatty ran against some of the best athletes from the west clocking 16:14 but top runners finished with times ranging from 15:02 to 15:27 to qualify for the finals.