By Joe Naiman
Village News Reporter 

Contreras, Fluck, Philips first three finishers in cross country opener


Last updated 2/17/2021 at 2:02pm

Fallbrook High School had the first three overall finishers in the Warriors' cross country season opener Feb. 12 at home against Valley Center.

Danny Contreras, who is a senior this year, was the first runner across the finish line. Dawson Fluck began his junior year with a second-place finish. The high school debut of freshman Fisher Philips resulted in him taking third place overall.

Because Valley Center only had four runners Feb. 12 and a minimum of five runners are needed for a team score, Fallbrook won the meet by default. "We still managed to put our top three before their first runner, so I believe even if they had another runner we would have still won that meet," said Fallbrook head coach Marco Arias. "In a dual meet if you finish 1-2-3 you win that meet automatically."

Cross country team scores are derived by adding the positions of a school's first five finishers. Even if the additional Valley Center runner had finished first overall the Warriors still would have won.

Fallbrook's fourth finisher, senior Tommy LiBrizzi, placed sixth overall. The performance of senior Gavin Weber gave him ninth place. The Warriors had a total of seven runners with senior Jacob Crain taking 10th place and sophomore Abraham Hughes finishing 11th.

Fallbrook has a total of 10 boys in the cross country program this season. Three of the runners were not cleared to compete Feb. 12.

The coronavirus outbreak delayed the start of high school sports for the 2020-21 season. "It was really enjoyable seeing the kids run again," Arias said.

The Warriors began practice Feb. 1 and did not practice that Saturday, so the team had only nine practices prior to the Feb. 12 meet. "I'm really pleased with where they're at with their development," Arias said.

"They were running well during the week," Arias said. "I had no qualms about them."

There is no actual COVID-19 testing. The runners' temperatures are taken each day, and they are also asked if they are displaying any symptoms of COVID -19.

Arias asks his runners to minimize contact with others to avoid unnecessary risks of coronavirus transmission. Normally athletes run during the summer to build up their endurance for the meets.

"They did most of their summer training independently," Arias said.

The athletes kept mileage charts and reported them to Arias. The Warriors' coaching staff also includes assistant coach Joel Rivera.

In 2013, the North County Conference changed from dual meets to league cluster meets in which all of the league's schools participate. This year, the league clusters have been scrapped to limit the number of people at one meet.

"We went back to the old traditional dual meets," Arias said.

The league meets are the only competitions on the schedule. "There are no invitationals right now," Arias said.

The Valley League coaches are determining whether a league meet with all six schools will occur at the end of the season, and the CIF San Diego Section's coaches along with CIF staff will make a decision whether or not to have a CIF section meet later this year.

Mission Hills has replaced Mission Vista in the Valley League which includes Escondido, San Pasqual, and Ramona as well as Fallbrook and Valley Center. Contingent upon both the Warriors and the Bulldogs meeting coronavirus standards, Ramona will travel to Fallbrook for the Warriors' only other home meet March 5.

The two coaches at each meet determine what distance is most suitable for the two schools' athletes. Arias and Valley Center coach Mike Cummings agreed upon a 2.0-mile course. The distances will likely increase during the season.

Contreras won the race with a time of 12:04.8. "It was a good race for him," Arias said. "He established himself at an early pace. Nobody really challenged him."

Fluck crossed the finish line 12:12.4 after the race began. Philips finished his first high school race in 12:32.4. LiBrizzi completed the course in 13:00.5. Weber posted a time of 17:48.7. Crain's time was 19:37.0. Hughes had a 19:58.8 performance.

"Looking forward to this season," Arias said.


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