Mt. SAC puts locals on course for home stretch

GLENDALE — A total of 10 cross-country squads from eight area high schools descended on a packed course at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut on Friday and Saturday for the 62nd Annual Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational, a classic midseason event that serves as a preview and tune up for upcoming league finals and CIF prelims and finals.

Crescenta Valley High’s girls’ squad finished second in the Division I Varsity Green race on Saturday morning with 117 points behind winner Vista Murrieta, which had 96 points.

Junior Claudia Pham paced the Falcons with a third-place finish in 18 minutes 23 seconds and, in a stellar example of good pack running, a span of just 1:03 separated her from the Falcons’ fifth-place finisher.

“It was a great day for us, I thought we ran very well,” Crescenta Valley Coach Mark Evans said. “We entered that race with some teams that were ranked ahead of us [in CIF] and we just wanted to beat some of them and we were pretty close to Vista Murrieta.

“They were very tight. We just need to keep that spread and move everybody up another 10 or 15 seconds.”

Sophomore Brooke Moultrie finished 18th for the Falcons in 18:54, followed by sophomore Ali Johnson and freshman Cali King, both in 19:25, in 32nd and 33rd, respectively.

Anneke Kakebeen was 35th in 19:26.

Flintridge Prep’s boys’ and girls’ teams ran in the Division V sweepstakes races on Friday afternoon, with the Rebels’ boys’ turning in a third-place effort with 124 points behind Hopi, Ariz. (36) and Western Christian (108) in the Blue sweepstakes.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit this season, but we definitely had a much better race [Friday] than we’ve had over the last couple weeks,” said Prep boys’ Coach Ingrid Herskind, whose top finisher was senior Kevin Heintz (seventh, 16:15). “It was definitely a very positive day for the whole team. With [Prep] league finals coming up next week, it was definitely something we needed.”

Junior Jason Bunn (17:04) finished 20th for Prep, followed by juniors Jesse Redding (28th, 17:29) and Taylor Beith (30th, 17:32) and sophomore Omar Martin (39th, 17:57).

Prep’s girls’ team was led to a sixth-place finish with 158 points in the Yellow sweepstakes by senior Dot Silverman, who finished 13th overall in 20:23.

Freshman Kaitlyn Kelleher was 21st in 21:09 and junior Elise Partos was 38th in 21:56.

“We’re very happy with it and we weren’t really racing a full varsity team,” said Rebels girls’ Coach Michael Roffina, who was missing some sick runners, including No. 5 runner Alex Hubert. “Dot’s been sick, so she didn’t have a particularly good race. All things considered, I was hoping we would finish in the top eight, so sixth is a good number.”

Also on Friday, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy placed eighth in the Division IV team sweepstakes Green race with 227 points and St. Francis finished second with 112 points behind Miramonte (80 points) in the Division III Varsity Blue race.

Senior Andrea Kropp was the top finisher for the Tologs, placing 33rd in 20:52. She was followed by sophomore Stephanie Vargas at 42nd in 21:16 and junior Paige Conti in 21:18.

The Golden Knights were paced by junior Kyle Palazzolo, who finished fourth overall in 16:10, a personal record by one second.

“I was definitely happy with the outcome,” St. Francis Coach Pat Donovan said. “It always seems to be just ungodly hot every time the Mt. SAC Invitational comes around and it turned out to be in the mid-90s today, but the boys were able to take that in stride.”

Palazzolo was backed up by juniors Tyler Kawachi, who finished 14th in 16:56, and Danny Velladao (25th 17:34), as well as junior Joe Chang (30th, 17:45)

Saturday included action for the rest of the Pacific League teams — the boy’s team from Crescenta Valley and the boys’ and girls’ squads from Glendale and Hoover.

The Falcons were 20th with 423 points in the Division I Varsity Blue race early Saturday morning, led by top finisher Michael Duncan (24th, 15:53), who is a sophomore.

Duncan was followed by sophomore Josh Carlos (46th, 16:15) and junior Bob Anderson (106th, 17:18).

“They ran times that were pretty much personal bests,” Evans said. “[Duncan] had a very good race and the others ran well also.”

The Tornadoes girls’ team was 11th in the Division II Varsity Red race, led by senior Katherine Brouwer (21:01) in 28th place and junior Kimberly Rodriguez (21:25) in 45th.

Hoover’s boys’ squad was 22nd in the Division II Varsity Green race behind a 47th-place finish from junior Salvador Vega (17:44) and a 95th-place showing by sophomore Paul Ingram (18:43).

Glendale did not record a team score in the Division I Varsity Red race, but enjoyed a 10th-place finish from senior Frances Pasamba in 19:19.

The Nitros boys’ team placed 22nd in the Division I Varsity Green race with 509 points behind a 22nd-place finish from sophomore Chris Canlas.


 GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at gabriel.rizk@latimes.com.

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