Staub Invitational not without twists

LA CRESCENTA — Perhaps the closest thing to an all-local cross-country meet took place Saturday at the 45th annual Staub/Barnes Invitational at Crescenta Valley Park.

Seven local teams participated over two boys’ and girls’ races, with the majority competing in the first varsity race, which included some interesting twists.

Varsity race No. 1 resembled a Pacific League meet with Crescenta Valley, Hoover, Burbank and Glendale highs racing with the Rio Hondo League’s La Cañada.

On the boys’ side, Burbank upset CIF Southern Section Division I No. 5-ranked Crescenta Valley, 98-99, for third place led by junior Arsen Mkrtchyan, who finished 10th in 16 minutes, 16 seconds.

“I just try to run the same way every time I race,” said Mkrtchyan, who set a new personal record. “I just give my best effort and try to get a lower time.”

The Bulldogs placed three runners in the top 20, including Bernie Corea (13th, 16:22) and Elliot Choe (20th, 16:32).

Junior Gabe Collison was stout in taking fourth in 15:53 for the Falcons, who last week won the league’s first cluster meet at Griffin Park and defeated third-place Burbank, 20-35.

“It was exciting. The rest of our team has been doing really well today and Arcadia doesn’t run this, so this race was kind of stress free,” said Collison, who obliterated his previous personal-best time of 16:23.

Senior Aaron Esparza (sixth, 16:08) and junior Matt Manalo (17th, 16:29) also placed in the top 20 for the fourth-place Falcons.

In the crosstown battle between Glendale and Hoover, the Nitros prevailed, 234-263, in taking eighth, while the top two runners were Tornadoes seniors Jeremy Zadoorian (ninth, 16:15), who nipped Mkrtchyan at the finish, and Kenneth Trejo (12th, 16:19.00). Junior Brian Shieh paced the Nitros (42nd, 17:24).

La Cañada senior Brandon Newquist took 52nd (17:57) in guiding the Spartans to 11th.

As for the girls’ No. 1 race, Golden Valley clipped Crescenta Valley, 82-83, for the win, ahead of sixth-place La Cañada (117), seventh-place Burbank (134) and ninth-place Glendale (233).

The Falcons, though, defeated Arcadia, 83-103, after finishing runner up to the Apaches on Sept. 20.

While Falcons sophomore Megan Melnyk didn’t start strong, she moved up five spots over the final 300 meters in taking fifth (19:11.62), ahead of teammate Hannah Ruby (sixth, 19:12.40).

“My other teammates were doing so well, it was just cool running together,” Melnyk said.

Melnyk and Ruby were joined in the top 20 by Haley Witzeman (eighth, 19:13.12) and Cali King (19th, 20:01.27).

La Cañada’s Anna Frederich proved her squad’s leader, taking 11th (19:27.65) with fellow Spartans Sonja Cwik (16th, 19:52.12) and Coleen Mispagel (20th, 20:07.06) keeping pace.

“It was great that it wasn’t as hot as it’s been in the past,” Frederich said. “Our goal as a team was to stay close and we did.”

Glendale’s Leana Setian led the varsity No. 1 race for the first half mile before eventually finishing ninth in 19:16.40.

“It was really hard because there was a lot competition,” Setian said. “All the teams were here.”

Burbank’s Arlette Movsesyan (18th, 19:57.34) and Hoover’s Samantha Bernardo (63rd, 22:51.21) led their respective teams.

In other competition, the Flintridge Prep boys’ second team finished runner-up to Pasadena, 64-76, in the varsity No. 3 race.

The Rebels’ only regular, seventh-runner Manny Perez, earned 10th in 18:16, as all five scorers finished in the top 20, including Jack Van Scoter (13th, 18:24), Jeff Wang (16th, 18:47), Alex Orloff (18th, 18:48) and Peter Culpepper (19th, 18:49).

Not to be forgotten was a breakout effort from Bellarmine-Jefferson junior Anthony Zapata, who was 20th (18:49), which was 56 spots higher than his finish at last Saturday’s Bell-Jeff Invitational.

Teammate McKenize Dowling was the only local who ran in the girls’ No. 3 race and took 47th in 28:23.

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