ARCADIA — Reactions and accomplishments certainly differed for the several area athletes who competed on the first day of the 47th annual Arcadia Invitational Track and Field Meet at Arcadia High on Friday evening.
For the Flintridge Prep boys’ seeded 4x1,600-meter relay team, Friday was about redemption and rivalry.
The Rebels finished third in 17 minutes, 54.66 seconds, but would have been happy in any position, just as long as it was ahead of heated state Division V cross-country rival Alameda St. Joseph (23rd, 18:35.69).
“Honestly, even if we would have finished second-to-last that would have been OK just as long as we’re ahead of those guys,” Rebels senior Alan Yoho said. “They flipped us off last year at state and have no class. We haven’t forgotten.”
The squad of Jack Van Scoter, Tyler Fong, Nikhil Poole and Yoho was in second at the first switch and remained there after a botched handoff prevented the Rebels from surging into the lead.
Flintridge Prep fell to sixth at the final handoff, before Yoho rallied the squad into third with a lap remaining.
“This is our elite squad from cross-country,” Van Scoter said. “This was our best time, but we ran OK.”
Crescenta Valley also had a foursome that included Nick Beatty and Matt Manalo that competed in the same event and took 20th (18:20.71).
For the Flintridge Prep girls’ seeded 4x1,600-meter relay squad, running at Arcadia meant several things.
“Honestly, before this race, I really didn’t think we belonged here,” joked Rebels senior Sarah Yoho.
Teammate Kate Evans agreed.
“I was asking around the tent and you had teams from Division I and Division II and we’re Flintridge Prep,” Evans said. “We’re in Division IV in track and Division V in cross-country.”
The Rebels not only proved they belonged in a field with several large public schools, but also topped an area power in Crescenta Valley, as Flintridge Prep finished fifth in 21:29.38.
Flintridge Prep didn’t exactly start strong, as lead leg Ashley Lara was in dead last out of the 15 competitors in the race after the first 100 meters.
“Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a good start,” Lara said. “But I recovered.”
Lara handed off to Yoho with the Rebels in 13th place.
That position changed, however, when Yoho moved the Rebels into second place behind Laguna Hills.
Third leg Natalie O’Brien kept Flintridge Prep in the middle of the pack as she handed off to Evans, the team anchor, with the squad in sixth place.
Evans moved the Rebels up one spot and, in part, accomplished a dream.
“Ever since I was in third grade, I’ve wanted to run at Arcadia,” Evans said. “This is awesome.”
While the Rebels fluctuated through the race, the Falcons’ squad of Erika Johnson, Haley Witzeman, Rebecca Mencia and Megan Melnyk were 10th after the first lap and eventually finished ninth in 21:35.96.
The Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls earned the distinction of being the highest-placing squad when the unit took fourth in the 1,600-meter sprint medley.
The squad of Kayla Grahn, Kayla Montgomery, Sophia Saldivar and Nia Harris finished with a mark of 4:14.96 and were just edged out by Chino Hills (4:14.56) at the finish.
St. Francis senior long jumper Eric Knowles also turned in a solid effort by taking fifth in the open long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 11 1/2 inches, hit on his fourth attempt.
Knowles was only a half inch away from fourth-place Jared Sinsheimer of Bellarmine Prep.
Crescenta Valley’s Gabe Collison, who was 10th going into the final 200 meters, was disappointed in his last kick as he finished 13th in 9:21.02 in the rated 3,200-meter run.
“I was there, I really thought I was going to be top 10,” Collison said. “I didn’t necessarily come out here for a time, but a good place. I’m not happy I didn’t close.”
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.