There turned out to be a couple of surprises, along with some expected results, at the first Pacific League cross-country meet of the season Thursday.
The Burbank High girls’ and Crescenta Valley boys’ squads entered the event looking to defend their respective league championships.
The Bulldogs received a first-place individual effort in the girls’ competition, as did the Falcons in the boys’ race.
Mckynze Kelley of Burbank clocked 18 minutes, 59.4 seconds in the girls’ event and Crescenta Valley’s Dylan Wilbur won the boys’ race in 15:19.9 on the three-mile course at Crescenta Valley Park.
However, one of the biggest story lines was Crescenta Valley winning the girls’ team race with 35 points, edging Burbank by one point.
Still, Kelley’s effort surprised her a bit.
“I really wasn’t expecting to finish first,” said Kelley, who helped Burbank win the league title last season for the first time since 2014. “I liked the course and I really liked the hills, so I felt like I got stronger.
“I just tried to push myself going up hill and I saw an opening heading into the last mile.”
Wilbur, who advanced to the state meet in cross-country and track and field last season, paved the way for the Falcons, who finished with 38 points to top second-place Burbank (48).
Wilbur set a personal-best mark on his home course and put the Falcons in position to win a third straight league crown.
“It’s just great to come out and finally be able to race,” Wilbur said. “It’s just about getting that race mentality back and I was able to do that, even though I wasn’t concerned about my time.
“I had a couple of little surges on the last part of the course and made my move about halfway through.”
Crescenta Valley won a girls’ league race for the first time in four seasons. Burbank took second, followed by Burroughs (89 points), Arcadia (99) and Glendale (161). Hoover and Muir also competed, but didn’t have enough runners to field full squads.
The Falcons were paced by Sophia Atin, who took second in 19:11.3. She was followed by Samantha Moore (fourth, 19:19.5), Natalie Bitetti (fifth, 19:25.3), Ily Nelson (11th, 19:58.2) and Kelly Helton (13th, 20:05.8).
“It’s definitely exciting to see how the girls raced,” Crescenta Valley coach Mark Evans said. “We had a lot of people go out there and run great races and we needed all of them to do that in winning by one point.
“Sophia ran a tremendous race and she’s improving each time out there. That’s very good for her.”
In addition to Kelley, Burbank’ scoring included Megan LaCamera (third, 19:14.9), Zoe Zeron (eighth, 19:51.2), Elin Markarian (10th, 19:57.8) and Noela Kim (14th, 20:08).
“I’m very happy for Mckynzee because she makes the sacrifices needed to get better at practices and meets,” Burbank coach Kathryn Nelson said. “She got some good experience last year and that’s helped her out quite a bit.
“We need to find a way to close the gap with the second half our our pack. We need our fifth and sixth runners to close a little bit more and we’ll be able to go from there.”
Elsewhere in the girls’ race, Burroughs was led by Jordan Guzman, who took seventh in 19:48. Also scoring for the Indians were Ceci Whitmey (12th, 20:05.5), Taylor Lombardo (22nd, 20:54.8), Briana Contreras (23rd, 21:00.6) and Kiara Cruz (25th, 21:27).
Glendale’s top runner was Monserrat Vazquez, who took 31st in 23:53.1. Hoover’s top finisher was Gabriela Quinones (30th, 22:36.1).
In the boys’ portion of the meet, Crescenta Valley, ranked No. 5 in CIF Southern Section Division I, took control with five top-14 finishes.
In addition to Wilbur, the Falcons got a fifth-place effort from Erik Faeustle in 15:39.6. He was followed by Max Burton (ninth, 15:58.8), Rowan FitzGerald (10th, 16:05.6) and Chris Cubias (14th, 16:21.8).
“Dylan is so fit and then he goes out and runs a PR on the course,” Crescenta Valley coach Mark Evans said. “I like the way they are running and it’s there for them to repeat.”
Burbank was led by Victor Goli, who took sixth (15:45.1). Also scoring for the Bulldogs were Andres Leon (seventh, 15:46), Dayne Ellis (eighth, 15:55.3), Anthony Chiaravalle (11th, 16:08.6) and Tadeh Shanazar (16th, 16:26.8).
“We wanted to be better than third place,” said Nelson, whose team is ranked No. 6 in Division I. “We’re certainly capable of running a lot better.”
Arcadia, No. 9 in Division I, finished third with 58 points, followed by Burroughs (113), Pasadena (113), Hoover (163) and Glendale (198).
Jimmy Nealis had the best mark for the Indians with an 18th-place effort in 16:29.1, and was followed by Mason Ortega (20th, 16:31.1), Robert McGraham (22nd, 16:35.2), Trevor Villagran (25th, 16:47.5) and Logan Berger (28th, 17:04.1).
Luke Baneham of Hoover took 12th in 16:16. Glendale’s best effort came from Chadi Saklaway (32nd, 17:16.4).
The league finals will take place Nov. 7 at Arcadia Park.
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