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Crescenta Valley High girls' cross-country looks to make run at Pacific League title, state

Cross-country: Crescenta Valley is one of several squads, including Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart, Glendale, Hoover and Holy Family all looking for improvement.

September 07, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • The Crescenta Valley High girls cross-country team, including Haley Witzeman, left, and Rebecca Mencia, second from left, has hopes at a Pacific League and state title in 2013.
The Crescenta Valley High girls cross-country team,… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

LA CRESCENTA — Perhaps it’s fitting that the expectations of the six local girls’ cross-country teams are as wide-ranging as the size of each squad.

As the seasonbegan this week, those schools each had divergent goals, led by Crescenta Valley High.

The Falcons are back after a runner-up finish at the Pacific League finals and a 12th-place effort at the CIF Southern Section Division I championships.

Perhaps just as exciting for the squad is the fact that five of seven of its runners return – including four of five scorers – from the silver-medal team last season.

“We have a lot of experience coming back from last year and lot of competition on the back end,” said Falcons 16-year-veteran Coach Mark Evans. “Our challenge will be to get a good group of young girls to take our fifth, sixth and seventh spots.”

Perhaps the Falcons return the area’s most dynamic runner in junior Megan Melnyk, who advanced to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet in the 800-meter run with a mark of 2 minutes, 12.34 seconds.

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Melnyk might represent the best chance for the Falcons to challenge the league’s top two returners in senior Veronica Yamane and junior Laura Guidolin of Arcadia, who finished first (18 minutes, 4.96 seconds) and second (18:17.71), respectively, at league finals at Crescenta Valley Park on Nov. 1, 2012.

Melnyk finished fourth that day in 18:48.02 and later led her team in taking ninth (18:39) at the Division I preliminaries before finishing 52nd (17:36) at the divisional finals.

“Megan is solid coming back and will likely be the top runner,” Evans said, “but you can’t forget Erika Johnson. She was great despite being hurt. You put her in the mix with Haley Witzeman and you have a strong three.”

Johnson took the bronze at league finals in 18:42.18 and was her squad’s highest finisher at the divisional championships as she took 29th (17:09).

Likely joining Melnyk, Johnson and Witzeman (eighth at league finals in 19:31.09) in the Falcons’ scoring corps are sophomores Rebecca Mencia (19th at league finals in 20:39.90) and Hoover sophomore transfer Samantha Bernardo (finished 37th at league finals in 22:38.68).

Arcadia, the lone Pacific League team ranked in the 2013 preseason poll at No. 6, topped Crescenta Valley, 34-40, at league finals, but graduated three of its top seven runners from last year.

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