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Vahoviak’s tactics pay off

Erik Boal

Katie Vahoviak knows what it feels like to be in front of the pack.

In her four races prior to the 36th annual Kenny Staub

Invitational, the Burroughs High junior cross-country standout had


won three and taken third in the other.

But from a tactical standpoint, Vahoviak might have run her best

race of the season Saturday at Crescenta Valley Park. And she did so

from behind.


Facing undefeated Agoura senior Lisa Novik in the Division II

girls’ varsity race, Vahoviak remained within striking distance the

entire race and wound up taking a more-than-respectable second,

covering the three-mile course in 19 minutes 17 seconds.

Vahoviak’s mark was good for 10th-fastest overall out of the 324

runners who competed at the varsity level in Division I, II and III

on Saturday. But more impressive was her 28-second drop from her

winning time at a Sept. 17 nonleague meet at CV Park.


“It made it a lot easier [not being the pace-setter],” said

Vahoviak -- a two-time qualifier at the CIF Southern Section Division

II preliminaries -- who trailed Novik by only four seconds.

"[Plus], I know this [course] pretty well, and that helped.

“I know she’s a great runner, but I wasn’t that far behind. And

that gives me a lot of confidence to know I can be up there with the

best of them.”

Indian Coach John Peebles said Vahoviak’s trend of shaving off


significant amounts of time -- including a 45-second drop on the

three-mile course at Griffith Park between the Burbank All-City Meet

on Sept. 15 and the first Foothill League meet just 10 days later -- indicates the type of progression necessary to qualify for the

Division II final, or perhaps, even the state meet.

“That’s the goal [to reach the state meet] and she’s progressing

nicely,” Peebles said.

“It’s good to see her go that fast and still feel that good.”

Also running fast and feeling good was Burbank senior Preston

Richardson, who took second in the Division I boys’ varsity race,

clocking 16:22 to finish six second behind Corona’s Cyrus Bastani.

Richardson -- who entered the meet having won the All-City Meet

and the Ojai Invitational, along with taking second at the first

league meet and third in Division I at the 30th Bellarmine

Invitational on Sept. 27 -- was locked in a battle with North

Hollywood Harvard-Westlake’s Jared Bell, before surging in the final


Richardson’s effort -- which was 10th-fastest out of 378 entries

at the varsity level -- combined with an 11th-place finish by Ryan

Christoffersen (16:42) and a 20th-place effort by Rick Bennett

(17:07), helped the Bulldogs to a runner-up showing with 127 points

behind Corona (87; 84:31).

Burbank clocked the eighth-fastest team time out of 54 squads,

posting a mark of 85:50.

The Bulldogs’ female counterparts took second in the Division II

varsity race, trailing only Santa Ana Mater Dei, 54-94.

Led by a 10th-place finish from freshman Michelle Horgan (20:22),

a 15th-place effort from sophomore Nellie Shamirian (20:53) and a

16th-place showing from junior Melissa Edwards (20:56), Burbank

posted a team time of 106:21, good for ninth-fastest out of 45 teams


Bellarmine-Jefferson’s Gerad Herkey continued to perform well

against Division I competition, clocking 16:44 to finish 17th.

Teammate Jeff Pang also competed in the Division I race, taking 45th

in 17:36.

Burroughs’ Daniel Anderson finished 25th in the Division II race

in 17:12. David Lopez was 55th in 17:56.