Crescenta Valley High cross-county tunes up for tough meets

LA CRESCENTA — With the elite Woodbridge Invitational taking place Saturday night and the team’s first Pacific League Meet less than 10 days away, Wednesday afternoon’s six-team cross-country meet at Crescenta Valley Park took on a different meaning for the Crescenta Valley High boys’ and girls’ squads.

The Falcons chose to focus on depth and team-building as the squad ran a primarily young and junior varsity-laden crew in both varsity races with some positive results versus competition consisting of Canyon Country Canyon, Saugus, Bishop Amat, La Sierra and Alverno.

“Right now, the focus for the varsity teams is Woodbridge. I feel with that coming up, there’s no need to overload the runners this early in the season,” Falcons Coach Mark Evans said. “This is an opportunity for some of the younger runners to run against some good varsity talent.”

The Crescenta Valley boys are slated to compete in the Woodbridge sweepstakes race at 9:54 p.m., while the girls will run earlier in the day.

On Wednesday, both top units ran 10-mile practice runs, but were found jogging throughout the course offering support to their competing teammates.

“It feels good to be out here cheering on our team,” Falcons senior Matt Manalo said. “It’s good experience for both of us.”

The Falcons’ Silas Fitzgerald was the top finisher for either varsity squad as the junior took 12th overall in 17 minutes, 25 seconds.

“It was great to run against a lot of good teams and runners,” said Silas, who shattered his previous personal-best mark of 17:34. “I think they brought out the best in me. By the one-mile mark, I knew I was going to have a good race.”

While there was no official scoring for either race, the Falcons would have finished fourth with 108 points.

Crescenta Valley boasted two additional top-25 efforts from sophomore Matt Worden (18th, 17:46) and Logan Rogers (22nd, 18:01).

Canyon’s Caleb McClain was the winner of the boys’ race with a time of 16:25, while Saugus was the first team to cross its scoring five.

On the girls’ side, freshman Annie Myers paced the Falcons by taking 20th in 22:18 in what was her first varsity race. Myers was immediately followed by junior teammate Amber Bolstad (21st, 22:21).

“My goal was just not to finish last,” Myers quipped. “It was difficult out there.”

As for Bolstad, she added, “When you’re running against good teams, you’re just trying to do your best.”

Canyon senior Natalie Rodriguez breezed to a victory with a time of 18:51, finishing ahead of teammate and runner-up Kyla Danforth (19:31) and Bishop Amat’s Emily Hubert, who took third in 19:32.

Unofficially, the Falcons finished fourth with 119 points. Canyon crossed its first five runners through the competition’s initial eight spots.

“We’re about to get into some very important races, so it’s nice to be able to have team-building races like today,” Evans said. “We have league around the corner, so it’s also important to prepare our runners from all levels for that.”

After Woodbridge, the Falcons begin Pacific League competition Sept. 26 at Arcadia County Park.

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