GLENDALE — Experience and depth might be the best things to have in hand for the Crescenta Valley High girls’ track and field program.

The Falcons have fielded an excellent cast of distance runners in recent seasons, some of whom have advanced either to the CIF Southern Section finals or the CIF State Track and Field Championships. Crescenta Valley has also strengthened itself in other capacities in its quest to wrest the Pacific League title away from arch-rival Arcadia after placing second last season.

“We have some nice balance,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Mark Evans, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year. “For instance, the field events are coming along and getting stronger.

“Everyone is a little older and more experienced.”

The Falcons top runners figure to be Eliza Collison in the distance and sprinters Jessica Beerman, Tiernan Hebron and Carli Opland. Oplund and Hebron helped Crescenta Valley win a Pacific League championship in the 4x400 relay last season.

Hannah Gerald, Claudia Sepulveda and Laura Hovsepian will be the main hurdlers. The Falcons will also return Melanie Samvalian, who won her first league title in the shot put last season, and high jumper Kristina Gustovich.

“It’s going to be a tough and competitive league once again,” Evans said. “Arcadia will be strong and balanced, and I know Burroughs will be very tough.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy finished 3-2 in the competitive Mission League last season. While the Tologs lost a couple of key athletes to graduation, they do return sophomore sprinter Drew Washington and sophomore distance runner Stephanie Vargas.

Washington finished eighth in the 400 at the CIF Southern Section Division IV finals. Vargas placed second in the 1,600 at the league final last season, but plans call for her to likely also participate in the 800 this season.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Eddie Gorton will rely on Washington to keep the Tologs, who will also bring back Tina Smith in the pole vault, in their meets.

“I think Drew can get back to the division final in the 400,” Gorton said. “She’s a heck of a leader and she can show the new girls how to run because she wasn’t afraid to race against seniors last year.”

Expectations are lofty at Holy Family, where Coach Robert Bringas will have some much-needed depth to possibly challenge for the Horizon League championship.

The Gaels will feature juniors Gladys Hernandez in the 800, 3,200 and 4x400 relay and Valerie Dominguez in the 400 and both relays.

Holy Family will also have sprinters Dominique Rochart, Monet Estrada and Alejandra Hernandez.

“This will probably be our largest track team (about 20 kids) that I have seen at the school in a long time and we have a young team that is eager to do better than last year’s third-place finish,” Bringas said.

Flintridge Prep will have a new coach in Nick Ponticello, who replaces Kenny Fisher after serving as the team’s distance coach last season.

Under Ponticello, the Rebels will look to climb back near the top of the Prep League with a vast array of talented underclassmen.

Senior distance runner Dot Silverman will lead the attack for the Rebels, who will also feature sprinters Stephanie Bathke and Brooke Elby, pole vaulter Maya Castellanos and freshman distance runner Hannah Yoho.

“We are trying to revamp the program and then be able to test the waters come our first league meet,” Ponticello said. “We also want to be able to bring a higher level of competition to the meets.”

At Glendale, the Nitros will look to replace Daniela Pollard. Pollard was tabbed the All-Area Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year after winning Pacific League titles in the long and triple jumps.

She is now a member of the Glendale Community College women’s track and field team.

Glendale Coach Bob Bailey will be looking for some athletes who can carry the Nitros to a respectable season.

The Nitros will have sprinters Phien Le, Sophia Amodia and Alisa Rangwala, to go along with distance runner Frances Pasamba and jumpers/hurdlers Gabriella Kovarik and Natalie Nguyen.

“They are going to have to step up and fill in roles that were reserved for others,” Bailey said.

Hoover will bring back distance runner Frances Ramas and sprinter Bella Pashbevian, but will look for others to help fill out the lineup.

“We have a lot of new runners who are young, but we do have a bigger team than we had last year,” Hoover Coach Jack Sallakian said. “With the new runners, I’m not sure about what kind of a performance level we will get.”

Get in touch CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or charles.rich@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World