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
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
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
“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.