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His best is yet to come

Jeff Tully

When he began his athletic career as a freshman four years ago, Kyle

Ivie had no aspirations about becoming a star runner at Burbank High.

With no running experience, Ivie joined the Bulldog boys’

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cross-country team his first year on a whim.

“I first went out for cross-country because some of my friends

were going out for the team,” said Ivie, who graduated in June. “I

really had no expectations about being a great athlete and I didn’t

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expect to be that successful.”

Of the group that started as freshmen four years ago, only two

made it to their senior years on the Bulldog boys’ cross-country

team.

“Out of that entire group, only Kyle and Stratos (Christianakis)

stayed with the program all four years,” cross-country Coach Bob Shaw

said of the team’s two best runners last season. “All the others

dropped out and didn’t finish. It was only the two of them who worked

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hard and stuck around.”

Although it might not have been in his plans, Ivie’s hard work,

dedication and a driving desire to get better fueled the runner. Ivie

evolved from a novice competitor to one of the most successful

runners in school history -- and that’s not easy to do at Burbank,

which has a rich history of distance running.

His brilliant high school career was capped in June, which also

brought an end to a senior campaign that saw Ivie cement himself as

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one of the finest runners in the state.

When it comes to success, no athlete in the city even came close

to matching Ivie’s accomplishments for the 2002-03 school year. It is

because of those accomplishments that Ivie has been chosen as the

Burbank Leader Male Athlete of the Year.

It is the second straight year he has earned the honor.

Going from a untested freshman to a seasoned athlete was a long,

hard road for Ivie. Although he didn’t exactly burn up the course his

first season, Shaw said Ivie was a decent runner who displayed signs

of greatness.

“He was on the freshman team that won a Foothill League

championship,” Shaw said. “Although Kyle wasn’t a superstar his first

season, we could see he had plenty of potential.

“We actually thought Kyle might be able to run [4 minutes 10

seconds] in the [1,600 meters] before he left Burbank. He ended

running a 4:13, which isn’t bad at all.”

Maintaining a dedication to track and field and cross-country over

the years hasn’t been easy for Ivie. However, the countless miles of

road training, the dizzying repetition of laps on the track, the

hours of sleep missed getting up before daylight to make it to meets

and practices and the gallons of sweat expelled were what Ivie was

willing to endure to improve.

“I look back and my time at Burbank has been great,” Ivie said.

“It was a lot of work. But I was able to run with some very good guys

and that made it a lot better.”

*

When a male athlete competes in track and cross-country at Burbank

-- and experiences some success -- it’s inevitable he will be

compared to the all-time greats who have made the Bulldog programs

respected and revered over the years.

For Ivie, running in the shadow of past standouts Rick Romero,

Fred Ortega. Jeff Nelson, Lin Whatcott, Scott Schweitzer, John

Musich, Benny Cruz, Todd Lewis, Tim Leahy, Trevor Marca and Kevin

Harley has only made him a better athlete.

“When you’re at big meets, people know about Burbank because of

the past teams and runners,” Ivie said. “I am just happy that I was

able to be part of the tradition.”

With Ivie’s ground-breaking accomplishments this season, he

deserves to take his place among the school’s best performers.

Ivie’s list of successes his senior season is impressive:

* He helped lead the cross-country team to the CIF-State

Cross-Country Championship for only the second time in school

history. Not only did Burbank show up, but it placed 13th of the 113

schools that took part. Ivie finished 25th of 958 entries in 15:33

over the 3.1-mile Woodward Park Course.

* He guided the cross-country team to a seventh-place finish in

CIF Southern Section Division II final.

* He placed eighth at the Southern Section Division II

cross-country final with a time of 15:11.

* He placed 13th at the state cross-country meet with a 15:33

mark.

* In track and field, he ran 4:13.63 in the 1,600 meters at the

CIF Master’s Meet.

* He was the Foothill League 1,600 champion.

* He is the only athlete in school history to qualify for the

state cross-country and state track and field meet in the same

season.

As a sophomore in 2000, 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.

Along with Shaw, Ivie said he wouldn’t have been able to

accomplish even a portion of his success at Burbank without the help

of assistant coach Sasha Vujic.

Ivie said Vujic, who was a star runner at Burroughs and Cal State

Northridge, was more like a brother than a coach to him.

“I really owe Sasha everything,” Ivie said. “All the things that I

was able to do was because he was there to help me. I wouldn’t have

been able to do it without him.”

Sadly, after assisting the Bulldogs since 2000, Vujic was let go

and is no longer with the program.

*

Admitting he was a little burned out following his senior season,

Ivie took a few weeks off and enjoyed a graduation trip to Europe.

“I took a vacation and I didn’t run at all,” Ivie said. “I needed

the time off.”

However, after he returned, Ivie got back into his training

regiment. He needs to be in shape when he reports to college later

this month at Chico State.

Competing on the collegiate level is something Ivie said he is

looking forward to.

“I think it will be a good experience, running in college,” he

said.

“I think we should have a pretty good team this year. I know last

season [Chico State] finished fifth in both men’s and women’s

cross-country in NCAA Division II.

“I am looking for us to win a Division II championship somewhere

down the line.”

With Ivie running for the Wildcats -- who have placed among the

top 10 in Division II four of six seasons under the direction of

Coach Gary Towne -- it’s hard to discount that prediction.

“I really think Kyle’s best running is still ahead of him, I

really do,” Shaw said.

“Although he did very well in high school, I don’t think Kyle

reached his full potential as a runner.”

With a great deal of athletic ability and an intense desire to

continually improve, Ivie is more than ready to tap into that

potential.

And if his high school success is any indication, look for the

talented athlete to keep running into the record books.


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