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Clovis draws locals to make trek

Cross-country: Several Pacific League squads, Flintridge Prep compete at Woodward Park.

October 06, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

Come late November, invitations to compete in the CIF State Cross-Country Championships at Woodward Park will be issued to a select few, but on Saturday the revered Fresno course was open to all comers. Several local teams, all hoping to end their seasons there, as well, took advantage of the opportunity to tackle Woodward Park at the 2012 Clovis Invitational.

Crescenta Valley High enjoyed strong showings in the Division I Extra-Large Boys' and Girls' races, with the Falcons boys, who are ranked ninth in CIF Southern Section Division I, taking third, while the girls surged to fourth.

Junior Gabe Collison led the Falcons boys to a team score of 142 points — behind Redondo Union's 122 and El Toro's 97 — by finishing third overall in 15:32, a 57 second drop from his time at Clovis last season.

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"Gabe ran a great race, about a minute faster than he ran last year on this course," Crescenta Valley Coach Mark Evans said. "In fact, most of [the Falcons boys] were just about a minute faster than they ran [last year]. Some guys were a little bit more than that. Our top four were solid."

Collison was followed across the finish line closely by senior Aaron Esparza, who placed 13th in 15:55 for a drop of 1:06, junior Nick Beatty (23rd, 16:08), junior Matt Manalo in 24th in 16:08 for a 1:17 drop and junior Casey Magid, who dropped 1:13 to finish 80th in 16:53.

"Casey Magid ran a great race as the fifth guy today," Evans said. "He ran a lot faster than he did last year and just had a solid effort. Aaron Esparza was under 16, so that's really good and Manalo and Beatty were right together and I think they're capable of going under 16."

Evans said the Falcons' girls ran their best race of the season so far in finishing with 183 points behind Clovis (178), Long Beach Poly (155) and Redondo Union (71).

Sophomore Megan Melnyk was Crescenta Valley's top finisher, placing 16th in 19:14, followed by senior Hannah Ruby (19th, 19:13), sophomore Haley Witzeman (22nd, 19:18), senior Cali King (29th, 19:27) and sophomore Amanda Burch (106th, 20:54).

"They really did a good job and I think we're developing into a good solid team that's running the way that we need to run as a team," said Evans, who held out junior Erika Johnson because of a lingering foot injury, but expects to have a full squad for Thursday's Pacific League meet at Arcadia Park. "Their pack is developing and getting better and our gaps are better.

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