Above: Arcadia’s Ammar Moussa, right, led the heavy favorite Apaches at Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division I finals.
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
WALNUT – There was no reason for the Arcadia High School boys cross country team to be nervous.
But the Apaches were. They went into Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1 race at Mt. San Antonio College undefeated and a heavy favorite to win their first CIF-SS title. Top runner Ammar Moussa was undefeated and the reigning division and state champion.
“I was a little nervous because there is so much on the line,” he said. “I’m a senior and this is the best team we’ve ever had.”
There was no reason for Moussa or the Apaches to worry. Moussa had the day’s fastest time, 15:15, on Mt. SAC’s rain course, one second faster than King’s Wesley Lane, who was second in his race.
Arcadia coach Jim O’Brien said a little nervousness was expected.
“There was normal nervousness and anticipation,” he said. “We’ve run enough big races, we knew what was expected. But nothing is definite.”
The Apaches placed five runners in the top 20 and took their first CIF-SS title with 43 points.
“We let our legs do the talking,” Moussa said. “We were really motivated. We tried to send a statement out there. We wanted to prove that we are the best team in the Southern Section.”
South Pasadena’s Sam Pons took his second consecutive Division 3 title in 15:50, the day’s ninth-fastest time.
“I felt the pace was unusually slow and there was a big line of people and I didn’t want them to hang on for long, so halfway from the turnaround point I started to make some distance on them,” Pons said. “I think there will be a little more pressure at state.”
Arcadia’s Catrina McAlister finished second in her Division 1 race and Bosco Tech and Flintridge Sacred Heart each finished on the podium.
Six teams and five individuals from the West San Gabriel Valley qualified for the state meet in Fresno.
Saturday’s meet was run on Mt. SAC’s rain course for the first time since 1995. Athletes ran a two-loop circuit and finished on the stadium track.
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