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Track and field squads hoping to accomplish goals

As the track season is just about to commence, all four city squads begin with different goals and expectations, but all with one similar commitment, which is to be competitive within their respective leagues.

Here's a look at each of the squads.


The Bulldogs turned in a pair of top-three efforts during the Pacific League season last year, as the boys were second and the girls took third.

On the boys' side, the league and city's best battle might be in the pole vault, as both Burbank's Chris Miranda and Burroughs' Matt Schwartz are back.

The duo tied for first at league finals with vaults of 13 feet, 9 inches at Arcadia High on May 3, but Miranda took the title because he needed fewer attempts.

Miranda prolonged his season into the highly-competitive CIF Southern Section Division I championships at Mt. San Antonio College on May 18, where the senior took eighth with a jump of 14-0.

While Schwartz and Miranda enter the season as Nos. 1 and 1-A, Bulldogs senior Andres Pulgarin can't be counted out, as he finished third at the league finals with a height of 12-9.

Burbank's strong field presence continues to the throws, thanks primarily to Andy Hurtado. The senior was the Pacific League champion in the discus (143-10) and finished runner-up to Burroughs graduated senior Brian Jones (45 feet) in the shot put.

Like Miranda, Hurtado also advanced to the Division I championships and took ninth. Hurtado is hoping to move beyond his personal-best throw of 151 feet.

"They are both hoping to challenge the school records in their respective events this season," Burbank Coach Darin Wolf said. "Burbank was very strong in the field events last year."

As for the track, expect another tight battle atop the 800-meter standings between Crescenta Valley's Nick Beatty (1 minute, 58.12 seconds) and Burbank's Arsen Mkrtchyan (1:58.69), who finished first and second, respectively, at league finals.

One of the exciting returnees for Burbank this season is sophomore Josh Cantong, who figures to score points for the Bulldogs in the sprints and relays. After having the best 400 time as a freshman (50.39), he was lost to a football injury last year

Burbank's squad will include Josh Lee and Eddie Gibbons in the throws, James Williams, Trevor Strang and Chris Walker in the jumps and Gabriel Ellman and Ethan Moskowitz in the distances.

Wolf is hoping that a breakout season from sophomore cross-country runner Candela Fernandez will translate to similar results on the track in the distances. Fernandez finished third in the frosh-soph 1,600 meter run in 5:41.51.

Outside of Fernandez, though, Wolf expects solid contributions from seniors Arlette Movsesyan (5:52.16) and Daisy Ignacio (5:57.34), who were ninth and 11th in league last season.

Seniors Keren Zepeda and Felicia Tomitsa, along with junior Julia Newton, are slated to compete in the sprints and relays.

Wolf is hoping freshman Haleigh Cusamano will have an impact in the sprints, relays, and high jump, while Newton will also contribute in the pole vault.

Junior McKynlee Vuncannon and sophomore Kelsey McCord will be the team's top throwers, while seniors Elizabeth Sanchez and Lilit Vardanyan should score in the jumps.

"I am really excited for this upcoming season," Wolf said. "We have a really good mix of seniors that have the experience of being with this program for three seasons now, along with a group of underclassmen with the raw talent that can have an immediate impact."


Last season, the Indians produced three Pacific League champions at the league finals.

Unfortunately for Burroughs, two of those titlist are gone. However, Burroughs Coach John Peebles isn't exactly empty-handed.

"We definitely have some talented kids, so we are just focusing on improving each day and seeing where that takes them," Peebles said. "Hopefully, it will be far."

This offseason, Schwartz has been trying to make sure that he won't be nipped again in league, as the senior cleared a personal-best mark of 14-10 at the Reno Indoor Pole Vault Summit in January.

One of the more interesting returning units this year is the Indians' 1,600-meter relay squad of Everth Vargas (400 meters, 800 and 1,600), Ricky Mendez (400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200), Robert Martinez (200 and 400) and Augusto Corea (400 and 300-meter hurdles), who combined to finished third in league in 3:29.34.


Junior Corwin Scherer a league champ in the junior varsity 110 hurdles (16.43) will make the jump to varsity and is in contention for other events such as the 100, 200 and triple jump.

Peebles also listed seniors Andrew Williams (long jump and triple jump) and Nick Garduno (high jump), juniors Nathan Bradley (hurdles), Kent Truong (pole vault) and Shane Thompson (1,600 and 3,200) and sophomore Niko Guerrero (100, 200, 300 hurdles, long jump and triple jump) as prospects.

As for the girls, Peebles has a bona fide super sophomore in pole vaulter Sarah Prystupa, who made a name for herself by outlasting a senior-laden group to win the Pacific League title with a 9-3 effort.

After Prystupa, though, Burroughs has doesn't have much experience past senior Ashley Sapone, who was third at league finals in the discus (89-9 1/2) and fifth in the shot (28-1).

"We are not as talented on the girls' side, but the girls are working and focusing just as hard as the boys in trying to improve and become the best they can be," Peebles said. "I think our girls' team will be much better later in the season once they get some more experience competing at the varsity level and some girls emerge as varsity athletes."

Peebles is hoping seniors Ellaine Ilano (pole vault), Alejandra Moreno (100 and 200) and Dayanna Yanez (800), juniors Sara Ehlers (400 and 800) and Breanna McCallum (triple jump), sophomores Ashley Contreras (800, 1,600 and 3,200) and Eileen Eckles (3, 200) and freshman Izzy Funes (long jump) can help with steady production this season.


With a program of 40 athletes, Bell-Jeff is attempting to be more of a force in both the Santa Cruz and Santa Fe Leagues and has a new coach in 40-year veteran Jim Couch, the school's long-time cross-country guru.

"I think if there's one program that has a chance to win a league championship, it's probably the boys," said Couch, who is a track head coach for the first time since 2002. "The numbers are pretty good and we have some strong talent coming back."

Junior London Webster leads the way for the boys Webster won the league championship in the 100 in 11.63 and finished runner-up in the 200 (23.70).

Couch believes he has a definite one-two punch in the sprints with Webster and senior Miles Hopkins, who just recently joined the team after concluding a run as a guard on the boys' basketball team.

"I want to say London's best time is an 11.2 flat, so he definitely has potential," Couch said. "I'm expecting around that time from Miles, which should make those two guys the class of the league."

Outside of the sprints, Couch feels has a pair of potential solid hurdlers in 6-foot-7 junior Carlos Guillen, who played center on the basketball team, and in junior Clark Thomas, who's also a basketball player.

Two other athletes to watch are Demond Roberts and Luke Djolakian, who will run the 400, among other events.

On the girls' side, Couch labeled 2014 as "a rebuilding year" due to several graduations and a relatively small squad.

However, Couch is excited about a new crops of athletes, including freshman Vanessa Smith.

"She won the [Catholic Youth Organization] championships last year in the 400 dash in 64 seconds," Couch said. "She can do a lot of different things as well."

As for returners, Couch has a cross-country runner in McKenzie Dowling, who will be running the distances and who is coming off a 21st-place performance at the Santa Cruz League cross-country finals.

Not to be forgotten is 100 and 300 hurdler Danica De La Pena, who has the unenviable task of lining up against strong competition from league and small-school powerhouse St. Mary's.


Last year, the Pioneers' push for a Liberty League championship came up short as Providence had to settle for second in the girls' standings.

This year, a silver would be a major accomplishment for a team that graduated versatile senior Marylin Petrov, who competed in multiple track and field events for Pioneers.

Petrov advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IV preliminaries in Carpinteria on May 4 in the 100 (12.87), 100 hurdles (15.81) and the shot put (33-10).

"We were very competitive last year because of Mariyln," Providence Coach Ross Genovese said. "She was our four-year elite athlete and it's going to be impossible to replace her. We're going to continue to try to be competitive in league, though, and I think we have a chance to be top three."

The Pioneers will lean heavily on basketball player and cross-country runner Katia Dabbaghian, who recently led Providence to a Liberty League title and a run to the CIF quarterfinals.

Like Petrov, Dabbaghian also advanced beyond the Liberty League finals and competed at the Division IV prelims in the 3,200 (13:39.86).

"Katia is a returning all-league runner and will compete again for a league title," Genovese said.

Dabbaghian turned in a strong 2013 cross-country season in which she paced the Pioneers to a runner-up finish in the Liberty League behind Pacifica Christian. Dabbaghian (19:55) placed second in the individual race .

On the topic of cross-country, the boys' team will also feature its own standout in Lalo Fisher, who raced to third in 17:13 at the league finals at Rancho Park on Nov. 8.

Yet, in a bit of twist, Fisher may not see as much action the 1,600 or 3,200 as anticipated.

"I know this might sound strange, but I really want more sprinting out of Lalo this year and may put him in more of those events," said Genovese, who will be assisted by Shianne May. "He did it as a freshman and maybe he'll do it again."

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