LBHS cross country teams compete in dual meet, Melanie Falkowski takes first place 

On Saturday, Feb 6, the Laguna Beach High School boys and girls cross country teams competed against St. Margaret’s in a dual meet at Crean Lutheran High School.

Defeating St. Margaret’s, the girls were led by junior Melanie Falkowski, who placed first overall, running a lifetime record of 18:20. Senior Grace Wilson placed second, running 18:37; and junior Coco Reed placed third, running 18:39.

The boys team, who sat out a few varsity runners, was defeated by St. Margaret’s, 35-20. The boys were led by Chris Drews and Will Goodwin, who placed fourth and fifth, both running 16:39. 

LBHS girls running

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Melanie Falkowski during dual meet at Crean Lutheran High School

Dave Brobeck says, “In a year marked by delayed openings, the LBHS boys cross country team successfully (and safely) competed in their first competition of the season this past Saturday. Racing in a dual meet against St. Margaret’s more than five months later than the usual August start, athletes and coaches alike appreciated the opportunity to toe the line once again for some healthy competition. 

“Running without top performers Mateo Bianchi (Sr.) and Mael Metis (Jr.), the Breakers were led by stellar efforts from super sophomores Chris Drews and Will Goodwin (16:39.7 and 16:39.8, respectively). Freshman prodigies Dylan Zevnik (17:41), Theo Drews (17:43), and Evan Stykemian (17:48) impressed coaches as well with mature race tactics and excellent finishes.”

Like every other aspect of modern life, the Breakers are hopeful that a return to the normalcy of racing will become a more normal event going forward.

LBHS Back Bay

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Boys cross country team training 

Sydney Schaefgen (Sr.), Meike Casolari (Soph.), Morgan Zevnik (Jr.), and Tess Brobeck (Sr.) were the other girls varsity finishers, placing 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. 

The other varsity boys runners included freshman Dylan Zevnik, who placed 7th; freshman Theo Drews, who placed 9th; sophomore Connor Joyce, who placed 10th; and freshman Evan Stykeman, who finished 11th.

Coaching during the pandemic has been difficult at best.

The boys cross country head coach Scott Wittkop says, “I think the most difficult challenge was keeping kids motivated. We just tried to keep things as normal as possible to give the kids an outlet from everything else going on in the world. Practices for us and the kids was a time to decompress and lean on one another during difficult times.”

LBHS Melanie

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Melanie talking to press after the race

Steve Lalim, the girls cross country coach, says, “I’ve continuously said we’d continue to work to ensure we are ready when the opportunity to compete presents itself. We were unable to control a lot of things during the last 10 months, but one thing we could control was our attitude, and our effort. It was important to stay positive, and keep working, because sooner or later, the opportunity would come. Saturday, the girls were given the opportunity, and they made the most of it. 

“The girls have worked so hard, and have been incredibly patient. They deserved a great race, and they got it. Our entire coaching staff is so proud of the girls.”

Michelle Highberg, Melanie’s mother, says, “Melanie’s amazing coach inspires every runner to be their best, to go out of their comfort zone to grow, to believe in themselves, and quite importantly, to show up – a gift that will serve them throughout their lives. I know that this year has been mentally unbearable for many teens, and those who are in sports are likely some of the strongest.” 

Michelle’s son Zachary and other daughter Morgan were outstanding cross country performers for LBHS as well. 

She says, “But, bigger than all this, I feel, is the importance of coaches who are true heroes! Steve has ignited that team with a kindness of spirit I rarely see – tears in his eyes as he inspires them to be their best!

“Scott is amazing too, and Zachary says that his assistant Tommy is the best. Tommy runs and trains with all the athletes.”

Full results can be found on


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