ARCADIA — At the Pacific League cross-country finals at Arcadia Park on Thursday, Crescenta Valley High seniors Dylan Wilbur and Sophia Atin had similar strategies in their respective races.
For Wilbur, the reigning Glendale News-Press Athlete of the Year, he ran toe-to-toe with Pasadena sophomore Isaiah Givens as the runners were inseparable for much of the boys’ race.
In the girls’ competition, Atin stuck with a pack of runners before she took her opportunity to break off and take the lead for the second half of the race.
Wilbur bested Givens in the final stretch of the race and won the boys’ Pacific League title in 14 minutes, 26.7 seconds, while Atin comfortably strutted her way to the finish line to win the girls’ league title in 17.57.5
The two helped lead their respective Falcons squads capture league titles, as the boys’ team won its third consecutive championship and the girls’ captured their first tile since 2014, when they shared the crown with Arcadia and Burbank.
The finals race was one of just two league meets this season, a new format for 2019.
The Falcons boys, ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division I, had three top-10 finishers to edge out Burbank, 36-46, while the Crescenta Valley girls’ team occupied the top-three spots to prevent the Bulldogs from repeating the girls’ title, 29-42.
“They did a great job,” Crescenta Valley coach Mark Evans said. “It’s really exciting to get both boys’ and girls’ in the same year at the same time. I’m really happy the way the program is going. I’m really proud of both of them. [Wilbur and Atin] had a phenomenal season.”
The Arcadia boys, ranked No. 5 in Division I placed third with 65 points and was followed by Burroughs in fourth (108), Pasadena (132), Hoover (176) and Glendale (206).
Wilbur and Givens, who finished in 14:29.6 to claim second, ran side-by-side until the final stretch of the course, where the Falcons’ senior separated himself.
“It’s great having somebody like that in the first place,” said Wilbur, who advanced to state competition in 2018. “When there’s that kind of dynamic in the race where there’s two people in front not separated until the end, we push each other to be the best.
“This year, I had so much drive that I knew that I had to win. I was going to win and I wanted to do everything I could to do that. It’s definitely much sweeter this year, especially to put the cherry on top to the team title.”
Along with Wilbur’s title-winning run, the Falcons received a third-place finish from senior Erik Faeustle in 14:38.4. Falcons junior Max Burton contributed with a ninth-place finish in 14:58.8, junior Chris Cubias finished 11th in 15:09.6 and sophomore Rowan FitzGerald followed in 12th at 15:13.1.
Burbank, No. 4 in Division I, was powered by junior Andres Leon, who finished fourth in 14:44.2, ahead of senior Victor Goli’s fifth-place time of 14:44.6. Bulldogs senior Dayne Ellis came in eighth at 14:57.`1, senior Anthony Chiaravalle finished 10th in 15:03.8 and junior Tyler Jenkins capped the Burbank scorers in 19th at 15:37.5.
“We didn’t perform as well as we should have.” said Burbank coach Kathryn Nelson of both races. “I take responsibility for that. That’s on me because if it’s one person, it’s on them. If it’s across the board, it’s something I miscalculated.”
Burroughs, which qualified for the CIF Southern Section prelims with a fourth-place finish on both the boys’ and girls’ teams, was led by Mason Ortega, who finished 17th in 15:31.2. Indians seniors Trevor Villagran (18th; 15:34) and Robert McGraham (22nd; 15:39), junior Jimmy Nealis (25th; 15:48) and senior Logan Berger (26th; 15:49.1) scored for Burroughs.
Hoover junior Luke Baneham led the Tornadoes with a 20th-placed finish in 15:37.9, and Glendale senior Chadi Saklaway finished 38th in 17:12.8.
The Apaches girls’ team finished third behind the Falcons and Bulldogs with 81 points, followed by Burroughs (98), Pasadena (120) and Glendale (174).
Atin won her first league meet as Crescenta Valley — No. 13 in the Division I rankings — took first, second and third in the meet.
“In the first mile-and-a-half, I was just aiming to go with whatever the pace was and just try to conserve,” said Atin, who finished second in the first league race behind Burbank junior Mckynzee Kelley. “For the last mile-and-a-half, I know I wanted to start going enough that the pack would break a little until I get a lead and so my teammates can come with. That was the plan.”
Falcons senior Samantha Moore finished second at 18:04.1 and senior Natalie Bitetti came in third at 18:06.2. Crescenta Valley seniors Ily Nelson (seventh; 18:34.8) and Sarah Benitez (16th; 19:18.9) also scored for the Falcons.
Burbank, ranked No. 15 in CIF Division I, had three runners finish in the top-10, led by Bulldog junior Megan LaCamera with a fourth-place time of 18:08.9. Junior Elin Markarin followed in fifth at 18:17.2, with juniors Zoe Zeron (eighth; 18:40) and Noela Kim (12th; 18:59.8) and senior Sol Fernandez (13th; 19:00) rounding out the Bulldog racers.
Kelley, the winner of the first league meet, raced her first meet after a car accident on Nov. 2 left her with a bruised lung and back issues. The junior finished 24th in 19:47.7 after being cleared on Wednesday.
“I wanted to do it for the team and I wanted to be there for them,” Kelley said. “I just wanted to show that I would be there for them for anything. I could only do a mile [on Wednesday]. Today, my back was hurting a lot. I took three ibuprofen’s and I still felt it.”
Burroughs, which finished second in last season’s final, qualified for the CIF prelims and was led by Jordan Guzman’s ninth-placed finish in 18:41.6. Junior Kiara Cruz finished 18th in 19:21.4 and was followed by senior Taylor Lombardo (22nd; 19:30.6), junior Briana Contreras (23rd; 19:44.8) and senior Ceci Whitney (26th; 19:53.8).
Hoover’s only runner was senior Gabriela Quinones, who finished 31th with a time of 21:00, while Glendale’s top runner was freshman Lilit Arakelyan, who came in at 33rd in 22:24.
The CIF Division I prelims will be held at the Riverside Cross-Country Course on Nov. 15.