Collison's late charge propels Falcons

ARCADIA — The Crescenta Valley High girls’ 4x1,760-yard relay team knew defending its title at the 41st annual Arcadia Invitational would be a challenge Friday night.

After the Falcons captured the race last year, a Saugus High team that turned in the best cross-country season in state history was gunning for Crescenta Valley.

And despite a hard charge from Stanford-bound seniorClaire Collison on the final leg, it was Saugus that ran away with the win in a state-record time of 20 minutes 10.76 seconds. The Centurions’ time smashed the previous state mark by nearly 10 seconds and was also the third-best time recorded in U.S. high school track and field history.

Despite finishing in second in 20:57.01, which is the second-fastest time in the nation this year, the Falcons were all smiles after the race.

“We just wanted to come out and have fun,” BYU-bound Falcons senior Rachel Lange said. “Mostly just enjoy it.”

Thanks to Lange’s blistering 5:05 split in the first four laps of the race, Crescenta Valley enjoyed an early lead.

“I felt like we were really aggressive,” Lange said. “It felt good.”

Saugus showed off its depth in the middle two legs to take a lead it would never relinquish.

Crescenta Valley’s Michelle Callister and Carlotta Pham did a nice job, however, of keeping the Falcons within striking distance, handing off the baton to Collison in fifth place.

That’s when Collison went to work. The reigning News-Press Female Athlete of the Year weaved her way around three competitors in the final laps to push the Falcons into second place with a 5:01 split by nearly six seconds.

“I like to do that,” said Collison of coming from behind. “I don’t get to to that a lot. That was so much fun.”

Not to be outdone was the Falcons’ boys’ 4x1,760 relay team.

The Falcons grabbed an early lead thanks to strong opening splits from Zack Torres and Mike Sheridan. Eric Kleinsasser kept Crescenta Valley in contention and a strong finishing kick from Brett Matejka vaulted the Falcons into a third-place finish in 17:46.30.

The time was the third-best in the state this year, fifth-best nationally.

“I think we all ran awesome today,” Torres said. “It was an amazing experience for all of us.”

Added Klensasser: “We were going to go out there and try and give it everyhting we had, and we did.”

Loyola senior James Kostelnik, a Glendale resident, couldn’t quite catch a speedy Danbury of Connecticut team down the stretch and his Cubs squad had to settle for second in 17:34.57.

The only area athlete to compete in an individual event on Friday was Crescenta Valley junior Megan Doeding. She finished 10th in the girls’ 3,200 in a time of 11:41.35.

“It was a good race,” said Doeding, who was toward the front of the pack for the first half of the race, which was won by Jordan Burke of Placer (11:18.02). “The girls really push you, they keep getting faster.”

Flintridge Prep was slated to have a girls’ team run in the 1,600 sprint medley rated relay, but was a late scratch.

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