Summer Series debuts at CV Park

LA CRESCENTA — Preparation and familiarization defined the first run of the three-leg Crescenta Valley Cross-Country Summer Series on Wednesday afternoon.

A total of 59 runners from ages 6 to 45 competed in two races held at Crescenta Valley Park.

PHOTOS: Crescenta Valley Park series race

Maybe the biggest benefactor of the event was organizer Mark Evans, head coach of both the cross-country and track and field programs at Crescenta Valley High.

For Evans, Wednesday presented an opportunity to take the first steps toward the upcoming fall cross-country season.

“It went well today. This was about getting out and running and not so much about winning or times, but just about getting some work in during the summer,” said Evans, who is taking his cross-country squad to Mammoth next week. “The kids did pretty well out there.”

Evans boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams had representation in both the two-kilometer and five-kilometer races.

Incoming senior Gabe Collison, an All-Area Cross-Country first-teamer, had little competition in winning the longer race in a time of 16 minutes, 39 seconds. Collison was followed by teammates Matt Manalo (second, 17:22.53) and Matt Owens (third, 17:59.44), while Andrew Hait was fourth (18:18.22).

As for the two-kilometer race, 14-year-old La Crescenta resident Thomas Farmer, an incoming freshman at Crescenta Valley, won the event in 8:33.25 with Anders Johnson (second, 8:33.94), John Jae Lee (8:34.44) and Giani Daza (fourth, 8:36.22) right behind in the 19-person race.

“Even though I’ve run at CV Park before, this was my first 2K run. I’m used to running the mile,” said Farmer of the opening race, which is roughly 1.24 miles. “I just wanted to go out and get a good time, which is what I got.”

While Farmer was attempting to familiarize himself with a new distance, family reasons compelled 7-year-old La Crescenta resident Ben Hart to run in the same race.

Hart finished 12th in a time of 10:41.88 in a race that began at 6 p.m. with a starting temperature of 91 degrees.

“I ran because my older brother Andrew and Elizabeth are running,” said Hart, who attends Dunsmore Elementary. “I’ve run before. It’s fun.”

Toward the other end of the age spectrum, La Crescenta native Moira Delany, 45, competed in the 5K event and finished in 24:44.24.

“I ran cross-country one year at Crescenta Valley and now I remember just how hard it is,” Delany said. “I’m more of a track runner, but I wanted to see how I’d do.”

To no surprise, the top two female runners in the 5K event were Falcons’ Megan Melnyk and Haley Witzeman.

“It was dusty out there,” said Witzeman, who finished 21st in 20:48.22. “It was fun to be out here running again.”

Melnyk was the highest-placing female, taking 20th in 20:44.31, and said she enjoyed the opportunity for mixed racing.

“I like running with the guys. It’s a challenge,” Melnyk said. “It’s good because they push you.”

Along with Crescenta Valley, St. Francis was the other local school present Wednesday and was led by Jack Lyons, who took eighth in the 5K run in 18:46.

“We were supposed to run on campus today, but thought this would be better,” Lyons said. “This was a good chance to get some work in at CV Park.”

Work wasn’t just confined to running, however, as Evans used Wednesday to test out a new and returning crop of parents, some of whom took times, set up the course and helped to clean up afterward.

“For some parents, they’ve never heard of cross-country, so this was a nice race to familiarize themselves with the sport,” said Evans, who will host runs on July 31 and Aug. 7. “For others, this is a good chance to get a feel for timing and for other activities during the season.

“Today was about getting ready for the season.”

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