Falcons rally for share of crown

Cross-Country: Crescenta Valley High girls win share of Pacific League championship at Crescenta Valley Park.

November 05, 2010|By Grant Gordon,

LA CRESCENTA — With their backs against the wall and their string of Pacific League titles hanging in the balance, the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' cross-country team came through in the clutch once more.

In a race decided by the slimmest of margins and the fleet feet of every Falcon from lead runner Claudia Pham to No. 6 runner Ali Johnson, Crescenta Valley nudged past archrival Arcadia, 31-32, at Thursday afternoon's Pacific League finals at Crescenta Valley Park, thereby earning a share of its eighth straight league title in the process.

"We didn't talk too much about the streak," said Falcons Coach Mark Evans of his team's focus entering the meet after having finished behind Arcadia in each of the first two league meets. "We talked about wanting to win league championships, beating Arcadia and running to our capabilities."


Pham led the Falcons' charge, finishing second in 18 minutes 54.28 seconds behind league champion Catrina McAlister (18:52.59), but the race came down to the very end and then some, as Johnson's 11th-place finish in 20:29.24 saw her cross the line in front of Arcadia's No. 5 finisher at 12th. Had the roles been reversed, the teams would've tied at 31 and Arcadia would have won the title outright.

"We all knew we really had to push it and go for it," said Pham, who missed last season's league finals due to an injury and was forced to watch as the Falcons came up huge to win the title after splitting the previous two league meets. "We wanted it and we had to go for it."

In contrast to the ultra-close girls' meet, was the boys' meet, one in which Arcadia flexed its might at an alarming rate, taking five of the top six slots and seven of the first eight. The Apaches won with 18 points, while Burroughs took second with 59, followed by Crescenta Valley (87) edging Burbank (91) for third for the first time this season.

"They just keep improving every year," said Burroughs' Anthony Monroy, the reigning All-Area Boys' Runner of the Year, who was the only non-Arcadia runner in the top eight, taking third in 15:32.05.

The Apaches, ranked second in the nation by ESPN RISE and first in CIF Southern Section Division I, were led by league champion Ammar Moussa (15:26.11), who cruised across the finish line right next to teammate Sergio Gonzalez (second, 15:26.32).

Monroy came in shortly thereafter and more than 25 seconds in front of the fourth-place finisher.

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