With the graduation of Burroughs High boys' cross-country standout Anthony Monroy, the title of top local male runner is up for grabs this season.
Runners will have the chance to claim that title today at the 22nd annual Burbank All-City Meet at Griffith Park.
On the girls' side, a new city champion will also be crowned, as last year's winner, Christina Shamirian of Burbank, graduated as well.
Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Bulldogs boys' team enters the season with a potent lineup and valuable experience gained during the 2011 season.
Burbank is coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history after a seventh-place finish in CIF Southern Section Division I Finals and an 11th place finish at the Division I CIF-State Cross-Country Championships. The team, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division I poll, returns five of its seven runners from that decorated team along with a sub-4:30 miler who was injured during last year's run to the State Meet.
The team is led by seniors Sergio Fraire, Bernie Corea, Chris Huezo, Mustafa Nguyen and Derek Itagaki, along with juniors Isaiah Amos, Arsen Mkrtchyan, Elliot Choe and Ethan Moskowitz. Those nine, along with sophomore Jake Miller, will battle for the coveted seven spots.
"This team has high expectations and has set tremendously high goals, but it's most important to remember that nobody is going to give us anything," said Burbank Coach Trevor Marca, last year's All-Area Coach of the Year. "If we are going to win anything at the end of the year, it's going to be because we want it more than the rest. We need to show up to practice day in and day out with this mentality."
The Bulldogs placed second in the Pacific League last season behind powerhouse Arcadia, which won a Southern Section Division I title and placed second in state in 2011.
For the Burbank girls' team, which placed third in league, the Bulldogs return a deep pack of runners, who Marca feels are primed for their best finish in history in league and in CIF.
"The girls' team has so much depth it's impossible to say who will make varsity," Marca said. "Every day a different girl stands out and shows she has what it takes to make it. I foresee a different order of finishers from race to race. It's this type of tight pack and competition from within that should push them to great heights."
Burbank should be paced up front by Arlette Movsession, along with junior teammates Daisy Ignacio, Stephanie Solomon, and newcomer Taryn Stevenson. In addition to the pack of juniors are seniors Victoria Sanchez and Kayla Martil, who will look to chip in along with vastly improving sophomores Lynn Park and Marla Dimetrios. The Bulldogs could also get a boost from freshman Candela Fernandez.
The Indians boys' team lost a solid performer in Monroy, a two-time State Meet qualifier. Last season, he placed 31st in the Division I final in a time of 15 minutes 50 seconds.
Monroy was only the third Burroughs runner to advance to state competition and just the second to earn back-to-back invitations. Sadee Martinez qualified for the State Meet in girls' competition in 2006 and '07 and Western Nelson made it to the boys' race in 2008.
But Monroy was just one of a group of runners Burroughs lost to graduation after a third-place showing in the Pacific League a year ago. The team also advanced to the CIF Division I Finals.
"Since we lost our top nine from last year's CIF Finals team, we are young this year but we will be gaining lots of valuable experience as we work to become the best we can be both this season and in years to come,"¿ Indians Coach John Peebles said.
With no seniors, Burroughs has a crop of juniors in Luis Celaya, Jarrett Duran, Ricky Mendez and Everth Vargas to go along with sophomores Garrett Boulais, Elias Hoxsie and Jack Howe. Freshmen who could add to the mix are Andrew Barrando and Diego Sanchez.
On the girls' side, the Indians have some returners from a group that took the fourth spot in league.
"We return several girls with varsity experience and have added several newcomers," Peebles said. "But we will have to wait and see who emerges as our top seven once we start racing and as the season progresses."
The seniors will be Gigi Chamberlain, Sammantha Fajardo, Gracia Innocentia and Johanna Reyes. They will be joined by juniors Paige Roberts, Brittany Trinidad and Dayanna Yanez, along with sophomores Miranda Acosta, Valerie Monroy, Desiree Ruiz and freshmen Ashley Contreras and Eileen Eckles.
The Pioneers will field relatively young teams that could be bolstered by a pair of basketball players.
Joining the girls' squad is sophomore Katia Dabbaghian. As a freshman last season, Dabbaghian was a standout on the Pioneers girls' basketball team that won a Liberty League crown and advanced to the CIF Division V-AA semifinals. She was an All-CIF honoree for Providence.
Junior Drew Tacchine should also be a top runner for the girls' team.
On the boys' side, it's still questionable whether Marcus LoVett Jr. will be competing after suffering a minor injury during the summer.
Last season, LoVett was the All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year after earning All-State, All-CIF and all-league accolades.
Junior Lalo Fisher will also compete for the boys' team.
"We lost a lot from last year with a group of seniors who were pretty good," Providence Coach Michelle Boucher said. "But we have a great group of kids and they have been doing a really good job getting ready for the season."
The Guards boys' team is coming of a 2011 season in which it placed second in the Santa Fe League and Charles Salomon won a league championship.
However, two of their top-five runners, Nathan Guzman (eighth in league) and Gabriel Ellman (ninth in league), have transferred.
"We are going to be in kind of a rebuilding year with the boys after the two transfers," Bell-Jeff Coach Jim Couch said. "But the good news is that we have Charles back."
Salomon, a junior, won last year's league title in 16:28 seconds.
The other Bell-Jeff returners are Anthony Zapata and Fernando DeLaPena, who will be joined by Chris Ramos.
Last season, the Bell-Jeff girls' team placed fourth in the Santa Cruz League.
The top returner from that squad is sophomore Mackenzie Dowling, who placed fifth in 22:32 at the league finals. The team will also feature Diane Salinas.
"We are still trying to build the girls' program back up," Couch said. "We have a few girls who have been running pretty well."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times