On a Road to Recovery

Times Staff Writer

Andrew Tachias' time to shine appears to have finally arrived.

After missing the first two months of his sophomore cross-country season with a stress fracture in his left leg and having his junior campaign end prematurely with strained muscles near his left hip, the Covina senior has raced superbly, if sparingly, this season.

Tachias opened his season with a fourth-place finish in the sweepstakes race of the Irvine Woodbridge Invitational on Sept. 20.

He followed that with a victory in the Division III race of the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 27, then a victory in the first Valle Vista League meet of the season four days later.

He will run in the second league meet today before setting his sights on the Division I-II individual sweepstakes race of the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational on Oct. 25.

Tachias won the Division III-IV-V individual sweepstakes race at Mt. SAC last year with a 15-minute 30-second clocking over the 2.91-mile course.

But he strained the abductor muscles in his left leg 2 1/2 weeks later and did not run again until January.

"I was sad when that happened," Tachias said. "But when I was sitting out, I kept telling myself that I had to be patient. That my time would come."

Tachias had a fine junior track season, topped by a career-best 9:16.51 to win the 3,200 meters in the Southern Section Division III championships.

But it was his fourth-place finish in the talent-laden Woodbridge Invitational that stamped him as a runner to be reckoned with and confirmed his belief that he can break 14:40 in the Mt. SAC Invitational.

"I definitely feel like that's possible," he said.

"I've learned a lot [about running] in the last year and I know my training has me ready to run that fast."

It's All About Timing Jose Melena of Antelope Valley knows that the biggest races of the season aren't until late November and early December, so he wasn't concerned by losses in the Bronco Invitational at Prado Regional Park in Chino on Sept. 13 and in the sweepstakes race of the Woodbridge Invitational the following week.

"I think I did great in those races," Melena said about finishing third in the Bronco Invitational and seventh at Woodbridge.

"I'm not shooting for wins in big races like that. I'm just shooting to lower my time and bring it down every chance I get."

Melena, a junior who placed second in the medium-schools race of the Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday, finished sixth in the Southern Section Division II final last year and 14th in the state meet.

But he surprised many with a 23rd-place finish in the West region championships at Mt. SAC the following week.

The performance earned him all-region third-team honors and made him the highest-finishing sophomore in the race.

"My coach peaked me at the end of the season instead of early," Melena said after winning the Kenny Staub Invitational on Oct. 4 at Crescenta Valley Park in Glendale. "And that's what we're shooting for again this season."

Long-Awaited Debut Natalie Picchetti is expected to run her first race for Rancho Cucamonga in a Baseline League meet today against Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.

Picchetti, a senior transfer who finished 24th in the national championships for San Antonio Reagan last year, sustained a stress fracture above her ankle late in the summer.

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