LA CRESCENTA — On an afternoon in which the Arcadia High boys’ and girls’ cross-country programs asserted their dominance in the Pacific League, the Crescenta Valley, Burbank and Burroughs teams made significant strides, while Glendale and Hoover turned in admirable efforts at Thursday afternoon’s second Pacific League cross-country meet at Crescenta Valley Park.
Some of the more interesting jockeying took place in the girls’ varsity race, where the Apaches defeated the Falcons for their second straight league win, 24-31, via dual-meet scoring while Crescenta Valley held off Burbank, 22-33.
Junior Megan Melnyk led the Falcons in taking second place with a time of 18 minutes, 30.38 seconds, not too far off the pace of race winner Veronica Yamane (18:13.59) of Arcadia.
“I can’t believe how much fun this was,” said Melnyk, who was also runner-up in the league’s first Pacific League race at Arcadia County Park in Sept. 26. “There were a lot of good runners and the course has so many ups and downs. I was just thankful to God that I made it through without injury.”
Melnyk was in an interesting competition with Burbank’s Candela Fernandez, who also challenged the Falcons’ junior in the first meet.
In fact, Fernandez lead Melnyk though the first 1 1/2 miles, with her biggest advantage a three-second lead one mile into the race.
Yet, Melnyk took advantage of knowing Crescenta Valley’s home course by rallying to pull even at 2 1/4 miles as both girls where on each other’s hips.
Melnyk eventually ran away from Fernandez (third, 18:47.69) over the final 200 meters.
“There was a lot of running up and down the hills, which made this course tough,” Fernandez said, “but I’m happy with my time.”
Melnyk was joined by senior Erika Johnson (fifth, 19:12.59) and junior Haley Witzeman (seventh, 19:29.78) in the top 10, while sophomore Rebecca Mencia (20:24.31) was 11th.
As for the Bulldogs, they had one additional top-10 finisher in senior Arlette Movsesyan (10th, 20:17.82). Burbank senior Daisy Ignacio was 12th (20:24.31).
As for Hoover, the Tornadoes held off Burroughs, 23-32, for fourth place, paced by junior Megan Mirkhanian (18th, 20:59.03)
Junior Miranda Acosta (23rd, 21:28.44) was the top placer for the fifth-place Indians. Glendale, which was seventh, received a 31st-place effort from Kaitlyn McCraw (22:28.47).
On the boys’ side, Falcons senior Gabe Collison concluded his final race at Crescenta Valley Park with a third-place finish in a course personal record of 15:24.44
“I think I could have definitely done better, but this was a [personal record] and my teammates are happy with their effort,” Collison said.”I can’t really complain.”
Similar to the league’s first meet, Collison lead throughout before Arcadia’s Estevan De La Rose kicked at the two-mile mark and raced toward victory in 15:07.34. Overall, the Apaches won, 20-26, over Crescenta Valley, which turned around and topped Burbank, 26-29, for second.
As Arcadia crossed four runners through the first five positions, the Falcons also boasted two additional top-10 finishers in senior Matt Manalo (seventh, 15:54.06) and Nick Beatty (ninth, 16:04.50).
Burbank, which took third, benefited from senior Elliot Choe (sixth, 15:51.53), who spoke highly of teammates Arsen Mkrtchyan (eighth, 15:55.78) and junior Enrique Vizcaino (10th, 16:05.81) and the rest of the team.
“It was a great team effort. We weren’t talking about winning, but about just staying together,” Choe said. “That’s what we felt we had to do.”
Speaking of tight running, fourth-place Burroughs finished a pack of runners, 16th through 19th, all within one second of each other, paced by senior Ricky Mendez (16th, 16:28.41).
“It’s the same strategy of pack running,” Mendez said. “We talked about it before the race, but I wasn’t sure we could do it.”
Junior Vladimir Climasevschii (24th, 16:48.03) guided the fifth-pace Tornadoes, who topped crosstown rival Glendale, 27-29. Sophomore Paulo Vazquez was the Nitros’ top runner, earning 25th (16:49.59).