LA CRESCENTA – What would the final race for Crescenta Valley High’s Colin FitzGerald at Crescenta Valley Park be without some history?
The decorated senior and reigning All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year enjoyed his greatest effort on his home course Thursday afternoon at the Pacific League’s second meet on a day when Burroughs High’s Emily Virtue also picked up a personal record.
FitzGerald’s CIF Southern Section Division I No. 5-ranked Falcons turned in a dominant victory in topping archrival Arcadia, 19-53, with a team time of 1 hour, 18 minutes, which set a school course record.
“I was very impressed with what the guys accomplished,” Crescenta Valley coach Mark Evans said. “They wanted to come out and run and since we have a lot of seniors on the team, they wanted to come out and have their best effort here. We don’t race for another 10 days, so they went all out.”
Crescenta Valley claimed four of the first five spots, while its final scorer – senior Artin Allahverdian – came in at No. 7 in 15 minutes, 51.5 seconds.
Individually, though, the day belonged to FitzGerald, who bumped off former Falcons great Nathan Sellers to set a new school course record in a winning time of 15:10.3.
“I was obviously a bit sad that this was my last race here because I’ve been running at this park since I was 10,” said FitzGerald, who won his fifth straight league race. “I just wanted to go out there and just leave everything I had out there. I didn’t think about a course record until the mile mark.”
FitzGerald was hardly a one-runner show, though, and was followed by runner-up Zach Johnson, who finished in 15:30.5.
Crescenta Valley’s Manan Vats (fourth, 15:43.7) and Spencer Geck (fifth, 15:44.1) rounded out the scoring for the Falcons.
The only runner to break through Crescenta Valley’s stranglehold in the top five was Burroughs senior Jagdeep Chahal, who took third in a personal-record time of 15:40.1.
“My plan was to stay with the front pack, but I didn’t want to leave my teammates behind,” said Chahal, whose previous best was 15:51. “I tried staying up front, but I had a guy get in between me and Colin. After that, I just tried to work on closing the gap.
“These have been a tough four years with [former Arcadia standout runner] Phillip Rocha and Colin, but I tried my best and I enjoyed it.”
Burroughs finished third with 61 points, while Burbank was fourth (98), Glendale took fifth (150), Pasadena earned sixth (182) and Hoover closed out at seventh (207).
Burroughs senior Alexander Hirsch (sixth, 15:48.9) was the only runner outside of Chahal, Crescenta Valley or Arcadia to breach the top 10.
The Indians boasted two additional top-20 placers in junior Raymond Berrellez (12th, 16:13.1) and Jeron Straker (19th, 16:38.1).
Burbank’s Andres Leon (13th, 16:15.9) and Victor Goli (14th, 16:23.1) finished right next to each other while teammate Dayne Ellis (18th, 16:35.7) also crossed within the top 20.
Junior Arvin Sales placed 24th (16:56.5) to lead Glendale, while junior Omar Abdelrahim was Hoover’s top runner and took 32nd (17:39.9).
On the girls’ side, there are few things left to accomplish for Burroughs’ Virtue.
Yet on Thursday, the senior added one more feather to her cap.
Virtue won her eighth straight league race in a time of 18:17.6, which just clipped her previous course best of 18:18.
“I was hoping I would run a little faster, but it is harder to push myself on this course,” Virtue said. “So, I’ll take what I finished with, which is OK.”
Virtue held off Arcadia’s Jasmine He, who took second in 18:29.7.
The Apaches, however, took home the team victory with 31 points, ahead of runner-up Crescenta Valley (50).
The Falcons placed three runners in the top 10 led by the one-two punch of seniors Caitlyn Couch (third, 18:45.6) and Naila Ortiz (fourth, 19:07.5).
“I was hoping to get in the 18:20s today and that didn’t happen, but I’m satisfied because I did PR and because we did well as a team,” said Couch, who topped her best mark of 18:50. “It’s exciting to see how we’re doing going into league finals.”
Crescenta Valley’s other scorers were McKenna Heeg (ninth, 19:49.7), Samantha Moore (15th, 20:13.6) and Gabriela Borraez (19th, 20:27.5).
One of the more exciting team races was for third place as Burroughs nipped archrival Burbank, 69-70. Glendale finished fifth with 141 points, while Hoover took sixth (162 points).
Beyond Virtue, the Indians enjoyed three more top-20 efforts from Vanessa Reveles (13th, 20:11.1), Jordan Guzman (16th, 20:21.9) and Catrina Villalpando (18th, 20:26).
Burbank received another strong effort from sophomore Sol Fernandez, who finished seventh in 19:32.6.
Like Burroughs, the Bulldogs posted three more top-20 finishes from Noemi Apreza (11th, 19:56.7), Shalom Mejia (12th, 20:00.2) and Jordan Delgado (17th, 20:24.2).
Junior Vanneza Venzor (20th, 20:31.7) paced Glendale, while sophomore Abigail Roxas (28th, 21:47.9) was Hoover’s top finisher.
Thursday marked the last league race before finals on Nov. 1 at Arcadia County Park.