Lessons Learned at Cool Breeze Invitational

Though expectations were high that CV senior Dylan Wilbur would once again dominate the course at the Cool Breeze Invitational, held last week at the Brookside Golf Course, the Falcon ended up placing seventh in the boys’ varsity Sundown Showdown. Hopes are still strong that Wilbur will advance as the season progresses.

Photo by Dennis OLIVER

Story by Leonard COUTIN

For the fourth year the Cool Breeze Invitational was held at the Brookside Golf Course near the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Races started on Friday, Sept. 6 at 3 p.m. with JV and freshmen and ended in the late evening with the varsity Sundown Showdown. Crescenta Valley runners proved themselves strong contenders over the past three years and hoped to continue that tradition. Last year as a junior, Dylan Wilbur beat Golden Valley at the last curve to cross the finish line first in a time of 14:26.7 giving the Falcon an individual championship for the third year.

         The pressure was on Wilbur as he approached Race No. 17, the boys’ varsity Sundown Showdown. As the contest got underway, Wilbur was with with the large pack, maintaining contact with the lead runner. But unlike the 2018 invitational, he kept his position and did not advance. Though the pace was slower, he wasn’t able to take control to aggressively dominate the course.

         In the end, Wilbur posted seventh (14:49) with splits (7:10/7:39). Falcon senior Erik Faeustle took 21st running a time of (15:05), which was better than his time last year (15.23.3). The rest of the team was obviously challenged by the large numbers on the course and did not show the same strength as the first meet. Times of remaining Falcon runners were junior Jack Myers, 102nd, 15:59, junior Chris Cubias, 106th, 16:00, junior Max Burton, 126th, 16:11, junior Nolan Brown, 138th, 16:16, Dylan Haworth, 154th, 16:26 and senior Christian Peraza, 180th, (16:38).

“Overall we ran pretty well. The varsity boys did not run as expected [and I’m] not sure why. They have a lot of racing left and will only get better,” said CV Head Coach Mark Evans.

Of Wilbur’s lackluster performance, Evans responded, “He will be there when it counts!”  

Evans was pleased with Faeustle’s performance, saying, “Great effort and focus especially on the last 600.”

         Final team varsity seed results: Great Oak 54, Claremont 139, Mira Costa 232, Agoura 233, Newbury Park 261, Poway 301, Quartz Hill 306, DelaSalle 311 and CV 348

        The Falcon girls participated in Race No. 12 – Girls Varsity Large School. Senior Samantha Moore placed 24th running 18:56.11 with teammates Juliana Cheney, placing 48th (19:16.81), Ily Nelson, 53rd, 19:19.81, Sarah Benitez, 65th, 19:33.5, Sarah Guzman 84th, 19:52.91, Kelly Helton, 110th, 20:13.8, Valeria Borraez, 123rd, 20.28.8 and Eva Marta, 128th, 20:34.6.

        “In the varsity race, our girls were eighth out of 29 teams entered,” said Evans. “Our scoring 5 averaged 19:23 led by a sub-19 from Sammi Moore and a super strong 2-5 of Julianna Cheney, Ily Nelson, Sarah Benitez, and Sarah Guzman. A summer of training together showed for that 2-5 as they packed up and pushed each other throughout the race.”

The young Falcon sophomore boys performed strongly in Race No. 8. The Boys Soph Large School capture a second place team title with 66 points behind Claremont with 36 team points, but in front of Great Oak 83 points. Rowan FitzGerald, younger brother of graduate Colin FitzGerald, placed seventh in a time of 16:16.3, followed by teammates Bryce Bitetti, 8th, 16:21.2, Max Ruiz, 12th, 16:38.1, Trevor Geck, 17th, 16:52, Griffin Aguilar, 32nd, (17:13.6), Brandon Gonzalez, 60th, 17:46.7 and Leo Bentivigna, 64th, 17:52.4.

         Coach Evans praised his newest member of the running team. In Race No. 2 – Girls JV Large School, senior Natalie Bitetti won the 3-mile race in a time of 19:56.

“The JV girls finished in a solid 14th place, led by Natalie Bitetti, who beat 195 other girls for a win in her first ever cross-country meet,” said Evans. “She ran a gutsy race from the start, sticking like glue on the lead pack, and then pulled away from them with a half mile to go. A quality group of seniors were behind her with the super-experienced Michelle Longlax 42nd (22:19.6) and Monserrat Escobedo 89th(24:40.1) in the second and third spots for the team.”

        In Race No. 6 – Girls Frosh/Soph Large School ­– the Falcon girls did well.

“The f/s girls fought tough to finish eighth out of 35 teams entered,” said Evans. “Both Rebecca Doherty [who placed] 15th (20:01.1) and Sinaed Aguilar [who took] 23rd (20:25.8) placed in the top 25, running huge PRs and getting those low points on the board for the team. Also, big runs from freshman Kate Saeva [who placed] 80th (22:02.4) and Emma Haworth [who placed] 81st (22:03.7) to leap into that top seven for the team.”

The Falcons will be running on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Eagle Invite at the Lake Gold Course in El Segundo starting at 8 a.m. and continuing until 12:30 p.m.