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Jeff TullySasha Vujic knows what it’s like...

Jeff Tully

Sasha Vujic knows what it’s like to run by himself.

A 1988 Burroughs High graduate, Vujic was able to be successful

and excel in track and field and cross-country with limited coaching



So when the former Cal State Northridge standout came on board at

Burbank High in 2000 to assist with the school’s distance runners,

Vujic wanted to make sure his athletes would never have to go at it



“When I competed at Burroughs, I really didn’t have a coach who

specialized in distance running,” Vujic said. “Mostly, I had to train

and compete on my own and teach myself about running.

“That became a problem when I was in big races, and I would just

fall apart sometimes because I didn’t have the coaching support.”

Vujic vowed his runners would never have to endure what he went

through in high school.


One of the athletes on the 2000 Burbank cross-country and track

and field teams was a skinny sophomore who didn’t know what to make

of Vujic.

Three years later, under the guidance of Vujic and Coach Bob Shaw,

that unassuming Bulldog competitor has grown into one of the finest

runners in the state.

Senior Kyle Ivie has cemented his place among the outstanding

runners who have represented the school through the years, in one of


the richest distance traditions in the Southern Section.

On Friday, Ivie has a chance to add to his outstanding season in

the CIF-State Track and Field Championship prelims at Cerritos

College in Norwalk. The time of his race is yet to be determined.

Ivie will be competing in the 1,600 meters, and a good showing in

the preliminaries would put him into Saturday’s final at Cerritos


“I just want to run [well] enough to make the finals,” Ivie said.

“I know there will be some very good runners in all the races, but

I hope I will keep on improving and I can run on Saturday.”

It is a monumental accomplishment for Ivie. He qualified for the

meet by finishing sixth in 4 minutes 13.63 seconds Friday at the

Master’s Meet.

In training this track and field season, Vujic said all of his

efforts have been geared to have Ivie peak for the Master’s Meet.

“That’s because if you don’t do well in the Master’s Meet, you’re

season is over,” he said.

“This season wouldn’t have been complete for Kyle if he didn’t get

to the Master’s Meet.”

Ivie is the first Burbank athlete to run in the State Meet in 10

years, as Issac Turner qualified in the 800 in 1993.

The Bulldog athlete has also made school history. He is the first

to complete the impressive double of qualifying for the State Meet in

track and field and cross-country in the same school year.

Vujic said when he first began training Ivie three years ago, the

Bulldog runner didn’t know what to expect from the coach.

“I think it was kind of a trust issue,” Vujic said. “He was

probably wondering who is this guy coming in and trying to tell me

how to train and what to do.

“But once I was able to gain his trust, and he knew where I was

coming from, and he know that I have been successful, he was

receptive to what I was trying to do.”

Vujic knew what he was talking about. A former middle-distance

champion, the coach competed in the 1992 NCAA Division I Track and

Field Meet for CSUN and qualified for the Olympic Trials the same


Along with guidance from Shaw, Ivie said the help he’s received

from Vujic over the years has been invaluable.

“He has meant the world to me as a coach. He’s really more of a

friend than a coach,” said Ivie, who will running at Chico State in

the fall.

“Since he has been there before, and he’s competed, he knows what

we’re going through as runners.” He also knows what to expect in

certain races and during different circumstances.

“Another great thing about Sasha is he knows when to let up in

workouts if I have an injury, and he knows my personality and my

style of running.”

Vujic believes in teaching by example. Not only does he show the

Bulldog runners how to train and workout, but he trains along with


“It’s nice to have the coach running right along with you,” Ivie

said. “He doesn’t mind going out on runs with us.”

For Vujic, training with Ivie has enabled the two to find a common


“We have been through it all, rain, heat and cold weather,” Vujic

said. “We go out and train no matter what.

“I’m out there with a heart monitor on Kyle helping him with his

workouts and trying to get him to where he needs to be.

“But I think me being out there with him, that has helped develop

the trust and Kyle realized that I’m going to be here for him.”

In preparation for Ivie’s trek to the State Meet, Vujic also

arranged so his runner wouldn’t have to train alone when the coach

wasn’t able to run. Although senior teammate Stratos Christianakis’

season ended more than two weeks ago, he has been lending his time to

run with Ivie.

In his first year with the program, Vujic and Shaw helped direct

the Bulldogs to the school’s first appearance in the State Meet, an

event that was first held in 1987. Ivie was a young upstart and the

No. 3 runner on a team that included talented athletes Thomas Harley

and Yuri Christoffersen.

The Bulldogs -- who entered the event as a wild-card team --

shocked many by placing 21st of 101 teams.

Fast forward to the 2002 cross-country season.

In his senior year, Ivie and Christianakis paced Burbank to the

state competition in Fresno. In a field of talented teams, the

Bulldogs placed 17th of the 113 schools taking part. Ivie finished

25th of 958 entries in 15:33 over the 3.1-mile Woodward Park Course.

“I’ve been lucky since I’ve been at Burbank to run on some very

good teams with some great runners,” Ivie said.

Thanks to a successful career, Ivie should be considered among the

group of all-time great Bulldog runners.