Torres, area foursome on to Fresno

Impressive as a second-place CIF finish and a time of 14:55 is, for the always ultra-competitive Torres, it wasn’t good enough.

“Mentally and physically, I was ready for this race, it just didn’t work out how I wanted it,” said Torres, who finished behind champion Tyler Valdes (14:51) of Dana Hills after beating Mission Viejo’s James Cameron (third, 14:56) to the finish. “My finish was good, but sprinting to get second is nothing, I want to get first.”

Torres will get another shot at Saturday’s CIF-State Meet in Fresno at Woodward Park, as the Falcon senior led a throng of locals that moved on.

Crescenta Valley’s girls’ team took third in Division I to advance to state for the fourth straight season, while Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy junior Andrea Kropp’s seventh-place finish bolstered the Tologs’ fourth-place Division IV advancement and both the Flintridge Prep boys’ and girls’ teams continued their annual passage to run with the state’s elite, taking third and sixth, respectively, in Division V.

“We ran a fine race,” said Falcons Coach Mark Evans of his girls’ squad, which finished third with 106 points, as Dana Hills won the title with 46 and Trabuco Hills nudged past the Falcons with 94. “I’m very pleased with how everybody ran.”

Going into the race, the Falcons were ranked second in the division and hoping for a second-place mark. Despite the fact that all of their runners bettered their finals marks from a season ago, it still wasn’t enough.

“I think Trabuco probably ran as good a race as I’ve seen them run all season,” Evans said. “We’re close, we’re very close.”

Pacific League-champion Michelle Callister (13th, 18:12) led the way for the Falcons, with fellow senior Carlotta Pham (16th, 18:18) following close behind.

Sophomores Claudia Pham (28th, 18:36) and Anneke Kakebeen (29th, 18:40) and senior Megan Doeding (42nd, 18:54) rounded out the scoring five for the Falcons, who, despite coming up a bit short of second were more than pleased with the day.

“We qualified,” Callister said. “We’re happy, we’re very happy.”

Added Carlotta Pham: “I think that’s the first priority.”

It was much the same mantra for Coach Kirk Nishiyama and his Tologs.

“We were just trying to make it,” said Nishiyama, whose team’s fourth-place finish more than exceeded its eighth-place mark in the division. “I’m very happy, they ran well today.

“This is the team I thought we had all year.”

The Tologs tallied 150 points, finishing behind champion La Reina (67), Mayfield (115) and Oaks Christian (140).

Kropp took seventh in 18:48, leading the way for the Tologs and continuing her first-year ascent to becoming a standout runner in addition to an elite-level swimmer.

“When I started doing cross-country, I had no idea I’d come this far and do this well,” Kropp said. “It feels so great, [making it to state] it’s what we’ve been hoping for the whole season.”

Flintridge Prep’s boys’ squad set out to challenge defending champion Woodcrest Christian with the hopes of every Rebel running their best race on the same day. Both goals fell short, but the Rebels still finished third with 78 points, as Woodcrest prevailed with 37 points and Pasadena Poly took second with 60.

“I think our goal for next week is to get everyone together and everyone going at the same time,” said Prep’s Conner Verreaux, the Rebels’ top finisher, taking seventh in 16:13.

Perhaps the biggest highlight for the Rebels was sophomore Jason Bunn, who took eighth in 16:16.

He was followed by teammates Kevin Heintz (16th, 16:43), Paul Weitekamp (20th, 16:54) and Jesse Redding (32nd, 17:15).

The Rebels’ girls’ team took sixth with 183 points, led by Elise Partos’ 16th-place mark of 20:59 and Dot Silverman’s 17th-place finish in 21:00.

St. Francis, led by Kyle Palazzolo’s 28th-place finish in 16:11, took 12th with 290 points in the Division III race, five spots off qualifying. Glendale resident Cristina Lucas of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, running as an individual, took 11th in Division IV in 19:02, narrowly missing the cut.

Now the onus turns to Fresno and Saturday.

Torres, for one, will look to a different strategy, as his race started slow with nobody looking to take an early lead and the difference likely coming with him making his move to the front a bit too late.

“It went out extremely slow, everyone was too scared to move,” he said. “I know in my head where I messed up and made mistakes.”

And Torres, along with four area teams, will look to make their final moves on the state’s biggest stage.

“We run well at Woodward, we like Woodward,” said Evans, whose sons Chris and Rob guided Division III Golden Valley to a seventh-place finish and the program’s first state berth. “We’ve got another shot, we just have to go and give it a good race.”

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