GRIFFITH PARK — As the start to the Pacific League cross-country season came and went on Thursday afternoon at Griffith Park, it did such with little surprise and little change from last season to this.
Ranked among the top teams in the nation, Arcadia High’s boys’ team, the reigning league champion, dominated en route to victory in the dual-meet scored event, with Burroughs’ Anthony Monroy, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year, and Crescenta Valley’s Mike Duncan providing local highlights with top-five individual finishes, the former finishing second and the latter taking fifth.
The girls’ race was a race indeed, but Arcadia, led by defending league champion Catrina McAlister, fended off Crescenta Valley, 26-29.
“It was a great race with Arcadia,” said Falcons Coach Mark Evans, whose team has won seven straight league titles, but came into Thursday ranked 10th in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I poll with Arcadia at seventh. "[Arcadia’s] a good team, they were kinda the favorites. I think our girls rose to the occasion. I was impressed with how we ran.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise and, in turn, the biggest change from a season ago was the performance of Burbank’s McKenzie Paul, who took second in 18 minutes 26 seconds behind McAlister (18:18).
“The times I’m running now are nowhere near the times I was running last year,” said Paul, who added that training with the boys’ team has been part of her success. “I’m in a lot better shape now.
“My goal is to get second place this year in league. … [So far, it’s going] exactly to plan right now.”
Paul finished fourth in last season’s league finals at Griffith Park with a time of 18:57.
Running behind Paul were teammates Christina Shamirian (14th; 20:22), Kayla Martil (16th; 20:38), Jenny Yoon (17th; 20:43), and CJ Chua (18th; 20:48).
Burbank turned in the third-best day, easily distancing itself from rival Burroughs. The Bulldogs’ scoring five crossed the finish line before the Indians’ top runner.
Burroughs was paced by Brice Edrington, who placed 21st in 21:09. Other Indians scorers were Giovanna Carrasco (23rd; 21:26), Gracia Innocentia (24th; 21:36), Tessa Chandler (25th; 21:44) and Kristen Burroughs (26th; 21:50).
Crescenta Valley was led by Claudia Pham, last year’s All-Area Girls’ Runner of the Year, who finished third in 18:28. Aside from Paul, the top 13 finishers were either Apaches or Falcons.
On the boys’ side, Arcadia had four runners finish in the first six spots, with its No. 5 taking ninth.
Monroy proved to be the only runner in the same area code as Arcadia’s Amar Moussa (first; 15:02), finishing second in 15:06, 44 seconds in front of the third-place finisher.
“I was just trying to keep it under control, nothing crazy,” said Monroy of his race plan. “I knew Amar would take it out fast, I was just thinking I gotta keep up with him.”
Burroughs turned in the second best day overall, as Arcadia beat the Indians, 20-35. The closest competition was between the Indians and Bulldogs, however, with Burroughs nipping its rival, 24-31, and CV turning in the fourth-best output, though far behind.
That was a switch from the first time the rivals met this year, as Burbank beat Burroughs, 24-34, at the 20th Burbank All-City Cross-Country Meet on Sept 9.
“I think we did very good as a team,” Monroy said. “We’re all improving. Hopefully we can keep it up through the season.”
CV was led by Duncan (15:51) in fifth, while Sergio Fraire was the first Bulldog across the line, taking seventh in 16:04, just in front of Burroughs’ Charlie Camacho (eighth, 16:14).
Burroughs also got scoring efforts from Charlie Camacho (eighth; 16:14),Ryan Johnson (14th; 16:30), Alex Martinez (16th; 16:48) and Kyle Frendenberg (18th; 16:51).
Behind Frire for Burbank was Jacob Jun (13th; 16:27), Zach Solomon (15th; 16:42), Andrew Wernstrum (20th; 16:58) and Jonathan Cisneros (21st; 16:59).
Hoover’s top finisher was Frances Ramas, who took 22nd in 21:13, but the Tornadoes didn’t have enough runners to score in the girls’ race. Glendale, turning in a fifth-best performance, was led by Yajaira Hernandez (30th, 22:32).