ARCADIA â€” With the addition of two new teams to the Pacific League this season, Claire Collison and Rachel Lange still figure to have several memorable races.
The two athletes for the Crescenta Valley High girls' cross-country team showed why they are arguably among the elite in the league, and the duo provided a glimpse that many close races might be in store between the two during the next two months.
Collison edged Lange by one second on Thursday to win the league's first meet at Arcadia Park.
Collison clocked 17 minutes 55 seconds and Lange posted a mark of 17:56 on the three-mile course that mostly features a flat terrain.
Collison, who helped the Falcons place seventh at the prestigious Irvine-based Woodbridge Invitational on Saturday, planted her right foot over the white-chalked finish line to top the sturdy Lange and lead the Falcons to a first-place finish.
"It's all about instinct," Collison said. "The way we look at it is that it's most important to have fun."
"We just go out there and try to push each other," Lange said. "Then whatever happens, happens."
Crescenta Valley, ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division I behind Saugus and Fountain Valley, had five top-10 finishers. Michelle Callister took fifth (18:47), Rachelle Blinoff-Mudd was seventh (19:05) and Shelby Pock, the two-time reigning Pacific League champion, finished ninth (19:13).
Callister is fresh off winning Pacific League titles in track and field in the 1,600 and 800 meters.
The Falcons are fresh off the program's first-ever CIF State Championship berth, where they finished ninth in state after finishing sixth in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship.
For now, however, Thursday was the first step forward in winning their fourth consecutive Pacific League title.
Heidi Diaz of Glendale placed sixth to earn the top mark (18:59) for the Nitros.
Glendale finished fifth in the competition behind Crescenta Valley, Burbank, Burroughs and Arcadia.
Hoover's top runner was Amy Ingram, who placed 37th (22:32) to lead the Tornadoes to a sixth-place finish.
Burbank and Burroughs showed they might be serious threats in the Pacific League following a lengthy stint in the Foothill League, which featured top programs like Canyon Country Canyon and Saugus.
Burbank turned to freshman Jennifer Velasquez, who placed third with a personal-best mark of 18:29.
"I was kind of nervous," said Velasquez, who turned in a mark of 19:19 at the Woodbridge Invitational. "I didn't think about it being my first [Pacific League race].
"I wanted to do better, but I'll do better next time."
Teammate Michelle Horgan placed ninth (19:23).
Burroughs had two top-10 finishers in Sadee Martinez (18:37) and Michelle Martinez (19:12).
The next league meet will take place at 4 p.m. Oct. 12 at Verdugo Park.