Falcons Celebrate a Dual Team Win at 52nd Staub/Barnes Invitational

Photos by Leonard COUTIN
Dylan Wilbur took the win.

By Leonard COUTIN

Celebrating its 52nd year, the Staub/Barnes Invitational is one of the oldest cross-country meets held on the Crescenta Valley home course at Crescenta Valley Park. Jeff Nelson of Burbank still commands the course record time of 14:49, earned in 1978, and the girls’ record holder is Anita Siraki of Hoover who ran 17:18 in 2000.

The two legends, Kenny Staub and John Barnes, served the Glendale community for over 25 years. Staub was a PE teacher and coach for the Glendale Unified School District. Barnes, once an Olympian 800m runner, started at CV High School sharing coaching responsibilities with Keith Gilliland. In 1968 he became the head cross-country and track coach of Glendale High School while also teaching math. After his sudden death in 2004 following his retirement, the name of the invitational was changed to honor his service.

The start of the girls’ run.

There have been many program changes since the creation of the Staub/Barnes Invitational. The course has been one of the most attractive features, and still is, but there are many other local invitationals that make it difficult to decide where a team should run. The CIF rules govern the number of invitationals besides the normal league meets a team can participate in during a calendar season. Each invitational brings strengths that help define a team’s performance. Mount SAC, for example, not only has a world-class course but also the exposure to high numbers of participants that help rank teams for the CIF divisions. This year the Staub/Barnes numbers were a little down compared with other years, but nevertheless the energy and overall performances were outstanding. For the first time a middle school race was added to the schedule.

Sarah Guzman crosses the finish line.

In Race No. 4, the boys’ three-mile varsity race, the Falcons’ performances ranked as one of their best so far this season. Senior Dylan Wilbur covered the first mile running 5:06 while the pack trailed more than 10 seconds behind. Wilbur ran almost the entire course alone to take the win in a time of 15:36.41. The juniors also helped to score valuable points. Chris Cubias came in second running 16:04.91 followed by teammates Jack Myers (16:20.78) and Max Burton (16:24.34). Clinching the team victory was sophomore Rowan FitzGerald finishing eighth in a time of 16:36. Senior Falcon Erik Faeustle was off his normal mark and took ninth (16:44.62) and sophomore Bryce Bitetti finished 11th running 16:55.56. 

Chris Cubias takes second.

Canyon junior Kyle Stevens placed fifth running 16:31.25, senior Daniel Casas of Garfield placed sixth (16:33.34) and junior Bennett Oakes from Flintridge Prep finished seventh (16:34.62). In 10th was junior Nicolas DiConti of Gabrielino running 16:50.81.

“We are happy with how we ran,” said Evans. “[The] focus was on running as a group and getting a chance to race on the CV Park course. There were lots of course PRs. The boys’ varsity was solid.”

Final Boys Varsity scores: CV 18, Flintridge 86, Canyon Country 100, Garfield 134, Gabrielino 158, Golden Valley 162, Heritage Christian 178, Bravo Medical Magnet 179, Palmdale Aerospace 193, Van Nuys 259, Maranatha 282 and Animo Venice Charter 353

In Race No. 3, the Falcon girls performed well as a team. Though Canyon senior Angelee Berganio won in a time of 19:36.00, the contest for second and third places proved exciting. At the finish line was Falcon senior Natalie Bitetti who edged out teammate senior Samantha Moore, both recording a time of 19:39.00. Falcon junior Juliana Cheney placed an important fourth running 20:07.00 followed by Sarah Guzman (20:11.00) and senior Ily Nelson helped clinch the team title as fifth person taking sixth place (20:27.00). Golden Valley placed seventh running 20:54.00 followed by Emily Cruz of Canyon (20:57.00), Golden Valley junior Joellen Bragason (21:00.00) and senior Falcon Sarah Benitez (21:03.00).

“Natalie Bitteti had another great race in the girls’ varsity,” said Evans. “The sophomores continue to run well. Harrison Connors had a big PR in the freshman race, which was the last race of the day, and conditions were warmer than they were earlier.”

Final Girls Varsity score: CV 15, Golden Valley 49, Van Nuys 78, Bravo Medical Magnet 99, Animo Venice Charter 142, and Palmdale Aerospace 149