For a program that has won seven consecutive freshman Pacific League titles and six JV titles, the thrill of winning a varsity title had eluded the Apaches until last year. “We beat out (Crescenta Valley) last year,” senior William Vinopal said of the team’s first league title in over a decade. “This year we expect the same. They’re a young and improving team.” And the rest of the league? “CV is it,” senior T.J. Bacic said. “No offense to rest, but they’re our main competition. We’ll be ready for them.” Beckwith, Pilavjian, Bacic, Vinopal, senior Daniel Miller and juniors Kazuya Koda and Alan Tsai already have faced CV once, back at Woodbridge. While they easily finished higher as a team than the Falcons, Crescenta Valley’s top runner, junior Nathan Sellers, was the top individual finisher among their rivals. It’s a loss that O’Brien doesn’t put much stock into. “We were more focused on getting all our runners up to speed,” O’Brien said. “It was more important for them to run as a pack.” O’Brien’s new goal for his team come Saturday is to familiarize themselves with the course. “(Woodward) has plenty of hills,” O’Brien said. “We’ll be working on our speed and other drills. This should be interesting.” Vinopal and the Apaches couldn’t agree more. “Our goal is to win state,” Vinopal said. “What better place to get ready than at Woodward?” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ARCADIA — As early preparations began for this Saturday’s Clovis Invitational in Fresno’s Woodward Park, Arcadia High cross country coach Jim O’Brien began to think of the possibilities. “This course, this race will provide us with a big learning experience,” O’Brien said. “It gives the guys an opportunity to run on the state course. This will be a good practice for if and when we make it to the state finals.” Paced by a strong performance from senior Paul Beckwith (16:01) who finished 19th, the Apaches took seventh overall in team competition at the prestigious Stanford Invitational up in Palo Alto. A week earlier at the highly competitive Woodbridge Invitational, Arcadia placed four runners in the top 100, led by junior Andrew Pilavjian’s (15:02) 19th-place showing. “These kids have been putting in the time this summer,” said O’Brien, who made each of his varsity runners run more than 1,000 miles during the summer. “Luckily, a lot of our runners are back this year. This hasn’t always been the case.” One of the fascinating quirks that O’Brien has had to deal with in his 10 years as the boys’ coach, has been strong competition. Though Not the type that you find on the field, but off. “We’ve had trouble keeping a lot of kids in the program after their sophomore year,” he said. “A lot of parents have pulled their kids out of cross country during their junior year because they have felt that it’s the most academically rigorous year.” The way the Apaches have been running lately, a return visit to Woodward on Nov. 26 for the state cross country finals appears in sight. Arcadia is coming off strong finishes in each of its last two races.