It is no secret that local cross country teams are continually competitive year in and year out.
But this year figures to a special one for the Burbank High boys’ team. There is no telling how good the Bulldogs can be. They return all seven of their varsity runners from league finals from a year ago and if healthy should finish their season in Fresno at the California State Championships. As hard as it might be to believe, Burbank’s boys’ team has actually never been to the state meet.
Burroughs, which won the CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys’ title in 2014, isn’t far behind.
Both the Burbank and Burroughs girls’ teams figure to fight for the Pacific League title after finishing first and second a year ago.
The Bulldog boys’ team is looking to be healthy this year after struggling with that aspect a year ago. The Bulldogs open the season ranked No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 preseason poll. In track season, there were five Bulldogs who broke the 10-minute barrier in the 3,200 meters. This would be comparable to a starting five in basketball that all average in double figures in points.
Senior Victor Goli is coming off a fine track season after he was sick much of last cross country season. Goli ran 4 minutes, 23.4 seconds in the 1,600 and 9:25.58 in the 3,200. Junior Andres Leon is running right alongside him. He went 4:26.81 and 9:42.18 as a sophomore.
Seniors Dayne Ellis (9:46.29), Anthony Chiaravalle (9:55.97) and Tadeh Shanazari (9:57.59) all went under 10 minutes in track. Senior Steve Wright (10:10.39) was not far behind. Junior Mher Matevosyan, who is a middle distance specialist, will also be in the running for a varsity spot. Matevosyan went 1:58.59 for 800 meters as a sophomore and 4:38.35 in the 1,600. Fellow junior Tyler Jenkins (4:42.05 and 10:07.77) should also see some time on varsity.
Senior Andrew Uhm and sophomore Damon Lovelace are also fighting for a spot on varsity.
“In a league with so many talented athletes and such knowledgeable, successful coaches, we always make it our goal to be in the top three and this year is no different,” Burbank coach Kathryn Nelson said. “We hope to advance our boys team into the CIF Finals and take a shot at making the State Meet this year.”
The Burbank girls’ team is coming off of a league championship season. The Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 9 in the CIF Division 1 preseason poll, were hit hard by graduation. However, they are still deep and should still be in contention for another league title.
Sol Fernandez is back for her senior year. She ran 5:18.1 in the 1,600 last spring in track and 11:24.3 in the 3,200.
Junior Mckynzee Kelley was the Pacific League frosh-soph champion in the 1,600, going 5:25.38. Kelley (11:35.3 in 3,200). Elin Markarian (11:34.00 in the 3,200) was the frosh-soph league champion in cross country last year. Fellow juniors Megan LaCamera (12:19.49 as a freshman), Noela Kim (12:03.51), and Zoe Zeron (12:45.48) figure to play key roles on the varsity.
Senior Cynthia Movsisian (12:36.4 in 3,200), sophomore Kyalin Abarabar (13:12.92 in 3,200), senior Izzy Bittencourt (13:12.19 in 3,200) and freshman Joanna Camacho are also fighting for a varsity spot.
“We have a good group of juniors moving up to support Sol but staying healthy will be key,” Nelson said. “We have a very hard working class of freshman girls and we are excited to watch them grow in the program. Joanna Camacho has already broken into the top 10 coming out of summer and Clara Kim is not far behind.”
The Indians will be solid with the boys and girls teams.
Junior Jordan Guzman, who finished sixth in the Pacific League finals last year, will lead the way. Senior Ceci Whitney, who finished eighth in league, is also back. Sophomore Sophia Navarro, who was 10th in league finals, gives the Indians a solid top three.
Sophomore Savannah Hernandez (12:14.6 in 3,200) will probably will the role of being fourth. Juniors Briana Contreras (12:46.45 in 3,200) and Kiara Cruz (27th in cross country league finals last year) should give the Indians enough to be serious league contenders.
Seniors Taylor Lombardo, Samanatha Hoxsie and junior Kaia Mouser are also in contention for spots on varsity.
“We need to work on closing the gap between our top seven runners,” Burroughs coach John Peebles said. “They are working hard and it is a long season, but we have to simply focus on getting better one day at a time.”
The Burroughs boys team is one that might surprise some people because they are quite good, even though everyone is looking at Crescenta Valley and Burbank. The Indians might actually be a year away from being the team to beat in league.
Junior Julian Largaespada was the Pacific League’s frosh-soph champion in the 1,600 (4:36.37).
Junior Jimmy Nealis (4:41.21 in 1,600) is also capability of big things.
Seniors Logan Berger (10:10.29 in the 3,200 in league finals), Trevor Villagran (10:18.30) and Robert McGraham (10:46.46) are all solid veterans.
Sophomore Mason Ortega (4:50.62 in 1,600 in Buroughs-Burbank dual meet), sophomore Jalen Leighton (4:54.49 in 1,600 in Burroughs-Burbank dual meet) and sophomore Chase Eldridge (hurdler, middle distance runner in track) will also battle for a spot on varsity.
“The boys are really working on the concept of pack running,” Peebles said. “The path to success for the boys will be getting the pack to go together.”