Glendale High School boys' track preview

Crescenta Valley High's Gabe Collison is preparing to pace the Falcons to a Pacific League championship. (Tim Berger/File Photo)

Ask any of the five boys’ track and field head coaches from Crescenta Valley High, Flintridge Prep, Glendale, Hoover and St. Francis for an assessment and there’s a common theme for the schools.

Hope is high as are numbers for the teams, who are prepared to challenge in league and perhaps make a deep postseason run.

Crescenta Valley enters the season with heavy aspirations within the Pacific League thanks in part to a senior-laden squad headlined by its distance corps and highlighted by Gabe Collison, Nick Beatty, Matt Manalo and Andrew Hart.

“There’s no question that the backbone of this team is the distance group,” Falcons Coach Mark Evans said. “We expect big things.”

Collison returns as the Pacific League champion in the 3,200-meter run, having held off Burbank’s Bernie Corea for the title in 9 minutes, 30.51 seconds.

Like Collison, Beatty is also a league titlist as he won the 800 crown in 1:58.12 and was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:21.27). When healthy, both Manalo and Hart both have top-five distance potential in league, which may be the type of scoring that puts Crescenta Valley over the top this year.

Outside of the distances, Evans believes he has a pair of invaluable seniors in Kyler Chin, who’s slated for both the 110-meter and 300 hurdles, and sprinter Christ Ordookhanian.

“I expect that meet [on April 22] against Arcadia to be very important and likely for league,” Evans said.

As for Flintridge Prep, the Rebels opened the season with a strong effort in claiming the Prep League cluster meet on March 4, winning the boys’ meet, 87-55, over Pasadena Poly.

The Rebels are coming off a third-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Division IV championships and boast a strong one-two punch in senior Alan Yoho and sophomore Jack Van Scoter.

Yoho, who won a CIF-SS Division V cross-country individual title in November, finished runner-up last year in the division in the 1,600 (4:16.60) and is coming off a victory in the 1,600 (4:43.53) and 3,200 (10:28.23) at the cluster meet.

Van Scoter also notched a victory, winning the 800 in 2:07.14.

Maybe the biggest lock for a league championship is the Rebels’ Barrett Weiss, the reigning Prep League pole vault champion (13-8), who returns with brother Gareth Weiss.

Year No. 2 in the tenure of Glendale Coach Andrew Dakopolos has seen a spike in his squad’s numbers as the Nitros have 190 athletes among both the varsity and frosh-soph teams.

“We’re really building this program and the ultimate goal is to win a league championship,” said Dakopolos, who waved goodbye to CIF State 200-meter fifth-place finisher Michael Davis. “We’re putting the right pieces in place and this year we’re going to take a bigger step in being able to compete.”

Dakopolos isn’t bashful in saying he’d like his squad to be more like Crescenta Valley, which is to say more well-rounded.

As for now, the Nitros will lean on senior Brian Shieh, who finished 10th last year in the league’s 3,200 finals in 10:24.38.

Glendale also has a pair of intriguing runners in junior Daniel Jung, who is coming from the gridiron, and from Belmont transfer Jesse Torres, who is a senior.

“Brian is coming off a strong cross-country season healthy and ready to run,” Dakopolos said. “Jesse is a utility runner who can go anywhere from the 400 to the 1,600, while Daniel has got some wheels on him and I think he can really put together some great times in the sprints.”