The last time the Burbank High girls’ cross country team won a league title outright, the year was 1978.
Despite the fine achievement, the Lady Bulldogs didn’t grab all the headlines as those went to Jeff Nelson, arguably the greatest high school boys’ cross country of all time.
Now four decades later, Nelson’s wife Kathryn, led the Bulldogs to their historic title, which was clinched Thursday in the Pacific League Finals at Crescenta Valley Park.
“I stood their crying for a second,” Kathryn Nelson said of the achievement. “(It was) a lot of hard work. They wanted it. We knew we could be competitive, but you have to show up in the race.”
The Bulldogs easily won by scoring 32 points. Burroughs finished second with 59 points. Both teams will advance to postseason competition. Burbank tied for a Pacific League title in 2014, but the Bulldogs never won a league meet in doing so.
Junior Sol Fernandez led the Bulldogs by clearning the 3-mile course in 19 minutes, 12 seconds.
“Our coaches told us it is not for you to grab, you are defending it,” Fernandez said. “It is a huge success for this team.”
Shalom Mejia finished third in 19:36.
Also for Burbank were Jamie Levin (seventh, 19:54), Megan LaCamera (ninth, 20:02), Mckynzee Kelley (11th, 20:06), Lydia Forsyth (13th, 20:11) and Natalie Danao (16th, 20:21).
Burroughs was led by sophomore Jordan Guzman, who finished sixth in 19:53.
Also for the Indians were Ceci Whitney (eighth, 19;58), Sophia Navarro (10th, 20:05), Lakely Nealis (15th, 20:14), Julianna Navarro (20th, 20:37), Jamie Perez-Fernandez (26th, 21:19) and Kiara Cruz(27th, 21:46).
Burbank finished third in the boys’ varsity competition with 85 points. Crescenta Valley won with 27 points. Burroughs, without injured star Raymond Berrellez, finished fifth with 110 points.
The Bulldogs were led by sophomore Andres Leon (eighth, 16:12). He was followed by Victor Goli (12th, 16:23), Tadeh Shanazari (15th, 16:37), Steven Wright (24th, 17:23), Dayne Ellis (26th, 17:29), Tyler Jenkins (32nd, 17:51) and Mher Matevosyan (36th, 18:07). All seven of Burbank’s runners are underclassmen.
Burroughs was led by the duo of Robert McGraham and Carlos Ponce. McGraham finished 18th in 16:52. Ponce was 19th, also in 16:52. Trevor Villagran was 20th in 16:55. Jimmy Nealis was 23rd (17:12), Johnny Padungyothee (30th, 17:38), Peter Lainson (33rd 18:00) and Logan Berger (39th, 18:30).