Temperatures suit locals at Mount SAC

Erik Boal

The weather conditions were ideal for Preston Richardson to deliver

another impressive effort at the 56th annual Mount San Antonio

College Invitational.


Competing around 8 a.m. Saturday, the Burbank High senior talent

thrived in the cooler setting to take fifth in his Division I varsity

race, covering the 2.91-mile layout in 15 minutes 43 seconds.

But Richardson wasn’t the only local standout to excel at the


world’s largest cross-country event.

More than four hours after Richardson shaved 13 seconds off his

time at last year’s CIF Southern Section final -- also contested at

Mount SAC -- Burroughs junior Katie Vahoviak competed in the final

Division II varsity race.

And even with temperatures surging into the low 90s, Vahoviak had

no problem beating the heat, dropping 57 seconds from her time at

last year’s CIF preliminaries to clock 19:30, good for second behind


El Monte Arroyo’s Eren Ramirez (19:21).

“I actually like running when it’s hotter,” said Vahoviak, who led

the race through the first mile and maintained the advantage heading

up the renowned Poop-Out Hill, before Ramirez made her move.

“I’ve had knee problems in the past, so I don’t like running when

it’s [too cold].”

Just being able to race on the complete Mount SAC course was a big

relief for Vahoviak, who was informed that the 19 races following


hers -- all lower-level races -- would be shortened to two miles to

compensate for the rising temperatures.

However, after just four of those races, the Mount SAC organizers

decided to cancel all remaining events because of an onset of smoke

emanating from the fires in Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino


“I didn’t want to get cut short. This is Mount SAC, you don’t come

here to run two miles,” said Vahoviak, whose time tied for the

124th-fastest mark out of the 1,497 varsity runners who competed on

the full 2.91-mile course during the two-day event.

“But whatever race I was put in, it was meant to be. This

[performance] means a lot. There’s a lot of good runners [competing

here], so this is pretty big.

“Now, in my eyes, I can see I’m doing really well. Finishing

second made me realize that I should be more confident [because] I

can compete with the best runners.”

If Richardson wasn’t already considered one of the top runners in

Division I, then he only strengthened his case Saturday, helping

Burbank to a fourth-place finish in its race with a team time of


“He’s already way ahead of where he was [at this time] last year,”

said Bulldog boys’ Coach Bob Shaw, whose squad trailed Rialto

(81:10), Las Vegas Centennial (81:37) and Arcadia, which clocked the

same team time, but held a 123-132 edge.

“And I know we’re going to come on strong at the end, because

that’s the way we train. We run a tougher league finals course, so

that benefits us.”

Said Richardson, who tied for the 64th-fastest mark out of 1,890

varsity entries who ran the full 2.91-mile course Friday or Saturday:

“I was hoping to get top five [in my race], so I’m pretty satisfied.

And I’m pretty happy with how we’re doing [as a team].

"[The first time you run Mount SAC during the season] it’s all

about seeing what you can do on this course.”

With Richardson and the improving Ryan Christoffersen (10th;

16:03), the Bulldogs should be in the hunt to make a return trip to

the CIF final, providing they get the proper support from the Nos. 3,

4 and 5 runners -- Aram Sahagian (39th; 16:53), Rick Bennett (40th;

16:55) and Kevin Christoffersen (49th; 17:05).

The Burbank girls also competed Saturday, but the Bulldog lineup

was split up in an attempt to allow Michelle Horgan to get a high

placement in her freshman race.

Horgan took second in 20:30, trailing only Quartz Hill’s Brienna

Morris (19:41). Without her, Burbank still took sixth in its race,

led by junior Melissa Edwards (16th; 20:08) and sophomore Neline

Shamirian (18th; 20:14).

In Friday’s competition, the Bellarmine-Jefferson girls’ team

survived the poor air quality as a result of the Grand Prix Fire in

the Inland Empire to take 10th in the Division V team sweepstakes


Senior Pharrin Lewis led the Guards, clocking 21:16 to take 17th.

Amber Herkey, a sophomore, was 27th in 21:48.

Herkey’s brother, Gerad, competed in the Division IV team

sweepstakes race, along with fellow junior Jeff Pang. Herkey took

18th in 16:45 and Pang was 27th in 17:05.

Burroughs junior Daniel Anderson (16:59) finished 32nd in his

Division II varsity race Saturday, helping the Indians to a

13th-place effort.