Competing on a strenuous three-mile course on a warm late afternoon, a group of local runners came prepared to extend their seasons.
With a trip to the CIF Southern Section postseason on the line, the Burroughs High and Burbank cross-country teams looked to get the job done.
The feat was accomplished, as Burroughs’ boys’ and girls’ squads and Burbank’s Ricardo Mujica moved on after turning in impressive efforts Thursday at the Pacific League Finals at Crescenta Valley Park in La Crescenta.
Burroughs finished second and third, respectively, in the boys’ and girl’s’ competition. Mujica took ninth for the Bulldogs in the boys’ portion of the meet. Burroughs and Mujica will next participate in the CIF prelims, which will be held Nov. 10-11 at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
Burroughs finished with 60 points in the boys’ competition behind Crescenta Valley (18), which repeated as league champions. The Bears took third with 90 points, behind Crescenta Valley (24 points) and Arcadia (51) in the girls’ action. Mujica clocked 16 minutes, 35.6 seconds to qualify for CIF for a second season in a row.
“For the boys’ team, it’s about the power of the pack,” said Burroughs coach John Peebles, whose top five athletes finished 10th to 14th. “That’s basically the way we’ve run all year and we did that again today.
“Hopefully, it will carry over to CIF and we’ll see what they can do then.”
Liam Ellingsworth paced the Bears with a 10th-place finish in 16.55.2, followed by Nathan Marca (11th, 16:57.2), Alex Acevedo (12th, 17:09.3), Justin Cano (13th, 17:10) and Danny Camacho (14th, 19:19.2).
Eddie Sion of Crescenta Valley captured the league title in 15.44.2, followed by teammate Arlo Gagnon (15:49.6). Crescenta Valley registered seven top-eight finishes on its home course.
Mujica entered the event seeking a top-10 finish on the sprawling course that consists of several uphill hurdles.
“It’s as good as I could have hoped for,” Mujica said. “It’s a tough course, but I still wanted to get a top-10 spot.
“I slowed down a little bit during the last mile. You are going up against some great competition, so you try to challenge yourself that much more.”
Burbank first-year coach Sarah Czupnynski said Mujica proved again to be a top league runner.
“He pulled it off again and it’s because he shows up to practice and puts in the work,” Czupnynski said. “He went to CIF last year and I think he can do even better this year.”
In the girls’ portion of the meet, Burroughs received a 10th-place effort from Saida Getz in 20:57.9. The Bears additionally received a 16th-place finish from Isabella Galustians in 22:09.8, followed by Lucy Thomson (18th, 22:21.6), Anya Kallianpur (21st, 23:11.2) and Kayla Cabral (25th, 24:47.8).
“It’s a pretty good course to run,” Getz said. “I just wanted a top-14 finish, but I ran really well over the last mile.”
Said Peebles: “Saida ran very well and she came to the team after running the 400 in track last season. She’s not afraid to challenge herself. The girls’ team will get another opportunity to run. It will bode well for the team’s future.”
Reena Hsieh of Arcadia won her second straight league crown in 18:43.7. Crescenta Valley’s Emilia Greenway took second (18:50.8).
Burbank’s top girls’ athlete was Ashley Sosa, who took 14th in 21:30.5.
Burroughs will compete in Division II and Burbank in Division I. The Division I and III races will take place Nov. 10 and the Division 1, IV and V events will occur Nov. 11.
The CIF Southern Section Finals will be held Nov. 18 at Mt. SAC. The CIF State Meet will take place Nov. 25 at Woodward Park in Fresno.