GRIFFITH PARK -- Last summer, Burroughs High junior Katie Vahoviak
decided to give up basketball and concentrate strictly on being a
The decision has paid dividends this season for Vahoviak, who put
on a fine performance Saturday in the 30th annual Bellarmine
Cross-Country Invitational at Griffith Park.
Vahoviak ran away from the rest of the field in the combined
Division II-III girls’ varsity race, clocking 17 minutes 59 seconds
on the 2.9-mile course adjacent to the Greek Theatre.
Vahoviak had to outlast Alex Salinas of South Torrance to win the
“We were right together, and then up the sandy hill, [Salinas]
faded back and I pulled away,” Vahoviak said.
“This summer, I really picked myself up and I realized I could do
something if I pushed myself.”
Salinas was second in 18:38.
Vahoviak’s time was the third fastest for a female in the meet,
which included four girls’ varsity races.
Although Burroughs only had three girls in the race, and didn’t
score as a team, Vahoviak’s teammates also performed well. Adrianna
Powers finished seventh (19:43) and Michelle Martinez was 10th
In an invitational that has become a local tradition, the event
featured all four area schools. Along with Burroughs, Burbank,
Providence and host Bellarmine-Jefferson also had some fine
The Burbank High boys’ team placed sixth in the Division I race
with 187 points. The Bulldogs were paced by an outstanding
performance from senior Preston Richardson, who took third in 15:15.
“I wanted to get a better time,” Richardson said. “But I’m happy
that I’m able to continue running well with my teammates, because I
want Burbank to be recognized.”
L.A. Loyola junior Mark Matusak -- one of the top runners in the
nation -- won the Division I race in 14:28, short of the course
record of 14:10 set in 1986 by Glendale’s Richard Erbes. Matusak, who
had the fastest time of the day, ran 14:20 in the event last year.
Bell-Jeff junior Gerad Herkey ran in the Division I race without
the rest of his team, which competed in Division V. In an attempt to
get some competition among a faster group of runners, Herkey didn’t
disappoint, as he finished seventh in 15:30.
“I tried to push it in the hills, but they are hard,” Herkey
said. “I was aiming for Mark, because I knew he was going for the
record, but he was holding his own. He’s a real mature runner.”
Ryan Christoffersen (11th; 15:40), Rick Bennett (47th; 16:40),
Aram Sahagian (61st; 17:11), Jason Holm (65th; 17:16), Eric
Christoffersen (66th; 17:17) and Eslam Morsey (78th; 17:45) rounded
out the Burbank team.
The Burroughs boys’ team finished fifth with 139 points in the
Division II-III combined race.
Daniel Anderson led the Indians by taking sixth in 16:05. Kyle
Hazlewood (24th; 16:54), Kent Melendez (30th; 17:16), David Lopez (32nd; 17:19), Steven Newbon (47th; 18:07), Josh Betancourt (48th;
18:10) and Matt Martinez (52nd; 18:28) competed for the Indians.
Burbank High finished fifth in the Division I girls’ competition,
led by freshman Michelle Horgan, who took fifth in 18:54.
Horgan was followed by teammates Melissa Edwards (29th; 20:27),
Allison Ivie (40th; 20:57), Salma Khan (48th; 21:21), Emily Ambrose
(49th; 21:23) and Jenna Nalbandian (59th; 21:54).
Host Bell-Jeff placed fourth in the Division V girls’ varsity race
with 107 points, behind CIF Southern Section powers Flintridge Prep,
Brentwood and Rancho Palos Verdes Chadwick.
Pharrin Lewis led Bell-Jeff by taking seventh in 19:51. Teammates Cathleen Burrola (12th; 20:23, Erin Madrid (22nd; 21:49), Cynthia
Hajj (28th; 22:13), Vilma Couch (38th; 22:52) and Stephanie Ayala
(61st; 27:58) helped the Guards’ cause.
The Guard boys’ team, minus Herkey, did not run a full team in the
Division V race, as Jeff Pang (13th; 16:52), Daniel Hernandez (43rd;
19:15) and Josh Lepe (45th; 19:22) were the only athletes to compete.
The Providence High boys’ squad finished 11th in the Division IV
race, as Joey Henderson led the Pioneers by finishing 61st in 19:25.
The Pioneer girls’ team finished 16th in the Division IV race, led
by Naia Simon, who placed 49th in 22:15.
Katie Gose of Thousand Oaks La Reina had the fastest girls’ time
of the day -- 17:05.