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Boys' Track and Field Preview: Molina, FitzGerald eye big seasons

Boys' Track and Field Preview: Molina, FitzGerald eye big seasons
St. Francis High's Matthew Molina attempts a high jump of 6 feet, 3 inches during practice on campus. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Postseason aspirations, league championship hopes and plans for improvement highlight the goals for the five local boys' track and field programs.

Out of brutal Mission League competition, the Golden Knights produced a gem in junior Matthew Molina.

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The relay runner and 110-meter hurdler thrived in the jumps, finishing second at the Mission League finals in the high jump, at 6 feet, 1 inch, and in the triple jump, in 44-4 1/4.

Molina continued his success at the CIF Southern Section Division III Championships at Cerritos College when he finished runner-up in the high jump with a leap of 6-6, which earned him a spot to the Masters Meet.

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Though Molina struggled at the Masters Meet, there's a strong belief that last season will guide him for an even bigger run this season.

"As far as the Masters goes, it was a good experience for him," St. Francis coach Mike Russell said. "He didn't really know what to expect being his first time around. I think now with that experience, he'll be in the 7-foot club this year. He had tremendous talent and I think he's going to have a phenomenal year."

Last season, St. Francis finished 3-3 in the Mission League to take fourth place, while the squad did not produce a single varsity league champion.

Outside of Molina, Russell is looking for leadership from senior Taylor Bosveld, who finished fourth in the long jump (21-2 1/2) in league and was a member of the Golden Knights' fifth-place 1,600-meter relay (3 minutes, 29.87 seconds) and 400-meter relay teams (44.11 seconds).

St. Francis also has some strong returning talent in senior jumper and hurdler Grant James and senior thrower Blake Howard.

Crescenta Valley High is hoping to make a run at a Pacific League championship, which means taking aim squarely at defending champion and archrival Arcadia High.

"I think Arcadia is the favorite, but I think we'll be pretty good, too," Crescenta Valley coach Mark Evans said. "I think our strengths will be in the distances, but we'll have some pretty good sprinters back and some key field athletes."

No Falcons returner is more acclaimed than senior Colin FitzGerald, the All-Area Boys' Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

FitzGerald, a three-time CIF State qualifier in cross-country, is hoping to have a breakthrough season in track and field after winning the Pacific League title in the 3,200-meter run (9:32.77) and tying for the league crown in the 1,600 (4:26.57) with Burroughs' Jagdeep Chahal.

Just as FitzGerald headed to the Division I prelims, the then-junior was stricken with the chicken pox and did not advance.

"I think you're going to see a different result this time around," Evans said.

Evans believes that Jaedin Springfield and Josh Na will be strong contenders in the sprints, while Esai Bribiesca is slated to run the 100 and 200 and Kevin Tasci will compete in the 400 and 800.

Others to keep an eye on are seniors Roy Choe and Andrew Granier in the jumps and Aidan Foote in the pole vault.

Flintridge Prep has a veteran to lead the way in senior Evan Pattinelli, one of the most decorated runners in his school's history.

Pattinelli has claimed three CIF Southern Section championships in cross-country and track and field, including last year when he won the Division IV 3,200 title at Cerritos College in 9:43.79 and just missed the cut to the Masters Meet.

"We're definitely expecting big things from Evan," Flintridge Prep coach Scott Jung said. "He's the type of runner who is both great at what he does and a leader and role model for the rest of the team."

Much of Flintridge Prep's scoring will come from its acclaimed cross-country team as junior Carson Hasbrouck is expected to compete in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs, while fellow junior Sebastian Evans is slated for the 1,600.

Jung also believes senior Jonathan Le can turn in a potentially big year in the sprints.

Last season, the Rebels finished third in the Prep League behind Pasadena Poly and Vivian Webb and Jung is looking for a better showing.

"I pretty much have the same expectations with the boys as I do with the girls," Jung said. "I just want them to be more competitive in league in comparison to the past couple of years."

Glendale returns plenty of experience from a squad that finished 3-4 last season in the Pacific League.

"This may be the deepest boys' varsity team we have had in years when it comes to the running events, and only one is a senior," Glendale coach Bob Bailey said.

Bailey returns junior sprinter Dane Tamme, while Thomas Khan is being pulled up from junior varsity where the sophomore finished second in the league 100 dash in 11.63.

Other returners include junior thrower Julius Reyes, junior long jumper Joseph Cruz, senior sprinter Robert Peralta and junior Ostap Mejia. Bailey has a few newcomers he's keen on in freshman sprinter Dylan Andrade, junior distance runner Arvin Sales, junior distance runner and jumper Ameer Mohammed and senior hurdler Efrain Meraz.

"I believe we have a two-year window to finally knock of one of the four teams ahead of us in league (Burbank, Burroughs, Crescenta Valley and Arcadia)," Bailey said. "Hopefully we can do better. A bigger goal is not get shut out of CIF prelims like we did last year."

Hoover has a few athletes who may surprise this season.

"We're looking forward to our super athlete Azad Markosian in the shot put and distance," Hoover coach Jack Sallakian said.

With the graduation of CIF Southern Section finalist Chris White, the Tornadoes will turn to heavyweight wrestler Markosian in the throws.

The accomplished grappler finished third at last year's Pacific League finals in the shot put (44-3 1/2) and discus (126-9) and may make a push for the finals like White.

Omer Abdelrahim, a relay runner last season, will compete in the 1,600 and 3,200 races.

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