No Obstacle Is Too Large

Burbank High senior Ricardo Mujica is an elite runner even though he has gone through coaching changes every year as a Bulldog.


Burbank High senior Ricardo Mujica isn’t where you’d expect him. He’s also not where he’s supposed to be, literally.
Mujica is one of the top cross country runners in the Pacific League. In Thursday’s first Pacific League meet at Arcadia County Park, Mujica was the one person who prevented Crescenta Valley High from posting a complete shutout by having the top five finishers.
Mujica finished fifth behind four Falcons covering the three-mile course in 15 minutes, 37 seconds. The Falcons are ranked No. 7 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.
In his four years at Burbank, Mujica has had a new coach every season.
Yet Mujica, who said he has maintained a 4.0 grade-point-average and plans to study mechanical engineering in college, hasn’t missed a beat.
“In sixth and seventh grade, I was playing baseball. I was always playing with older kids so when they left to go to high school, I was left with no sport or no team,” Mujica recalled. “My mom found a flyer for Burbank Vikings (track club). She said ‘You have to do something’. I reluctantly went to the first practice. I started off as a sprinter one day and during warmpus I got mixed up and actually started training with the distance kids.”
The accident turned out to be a good thing as he found his niche and hasn’t looked back.
It was just four years ago that Burbank was one of the top boys’ cross country teams in the state.
So Mujica reached out to some of those Bulldog greats to show him the ropes of what he should be doing.
“When I was in middle school, I was talking to the guys who were here at the high school. They told me about some of the routes they went and I went with them a couple of times,” he said.
Current Burbank coach Sarah Czuprynski, who competed at New York University and has run several marathons, gave praise to Mujica.
“He’s one of the most self-motivated athletes I’ve ever met, not just from high school level, even my adult-level experience of racing. He’s incredible,” she said. “Ricky is where he is basically all on his own. You can imagine how much faster he’d be if he had a consistent coach or a solid foundation of training.”
Mujica, who ran 4:23.15 in the 1,600 meters in track and 9:50.03 in the 3,200 said he’s just hoping to have a strong finish to the season.
“I’m just getting ready for Mt. Sac and hopefully Southern Section prelims. I’m hoping to make it to the CIF Finals. Competing against the top guys would be an incredible experience,” he said.
Ricardo Mujica may have taken a peculiar path to success, but he clearly has his mind set of where and what he wants to be.