Crescenta Valley fares well under Friday night lights

ARCADIA — One of the quirks or charms of the 45th annual Arcadia Invitational track and field meet centers around the different types of relays in Friday's first day at Arcadia High.

Even though many of Friday's novelty events will not be seen at league finals or beyond, the competition was still fierce.

The Crescenta Valley High boys' 4x1,600-meter relay team, for instance, debuted at Arcadia and finished sixth in 18 minutes, 10.35 seconds in the seeded event.

The squad featured a first leg in sophomore Nick Beatty, followed by junior Aaron Esparza, sophomore Gabe Collison and senior Mike Duncan.

"It was pretty good to run in this," Collison said. "I was just trying to find my baton guy and I wanted to run after him and grab it. It was different."

The Falcons were 25th after one lap, but Beatty gradually overtook several runners in handing off to Esparza, who in turn, handed off to Collison with Crescenta Valley up in fourth place.

Collison made the closest push to the top, as he was in third after his second lap before falling to sixth in his third lap and rallying to fifth when he was relieved by Duncan, the team's anchor.

Duncan fell to seventh in his second lap before a late close near the end secured sixth place.

"This was our first time, but we were running for our school," Duncan said. "We haven't had a team like this in a while and to finish with a great group of other runners says something."

Quartz Hill won the race in a mark of 18:00.52, which was sixth-fastest time in the nation.

Like their teammates, the Falcons' 1,600 boys' sprint medley team had also never run the 200-200-400-800-meter format their event called for.

Yet, the foursome of starter James Maturan (200), junior Alex Damla (200), senior Justin Springfield (400) and senior Matt Williams (800) still ran to fourth place in the rated event in 3:38.58.

"This is our first time ever running this, so you don't really train for the race, but the individual events," Williams said.

Maturan had the Falcons in fourth place after his 200 meters and the squad stayed there through Damla's turn and fell as far as sixth place before Springfield rallied back into fifth, where Williams maintained the position. A disqualification of Valencia Valencia, which had finished fourth, gave Crescenta Valley fourth place.

"Coach just told us, 'I want you, you, you and you to run this race' and we did," Damla said. "It was fun."

The final local representative, the Crescenta Valley girls' 4x1,600 relay squad, also turned in an admirable 12th-place effort in the seeded event in 21:42.17.

Freshman Megan Melynk led off and was 27th after two laps before moving into 23rd.

Melynk's gradual improvement mirrored that of her teammates, as second-leg Hannah Ruby advanced the Falcons into 21st and third runner Brooke Moultrie pushed Crescenta Valley into 17th.

Finally, anchor Cali King propelled the Falcons into 14th with two laps left to go before bypassing two more runners over the final 100 meters.

"Oh yeah, we were happy with 12th," said King, who pointed to the No. 30 on her hip number. "Any time you can finish better than what you were seeded coming in, that's good."

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