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Just one team able to advance

Erik Boal

Katie Vahoviak stood adjacent to the finish chute at Mount San

Antonio College, hands on her hips, eyes looking at the ground in



Even though the Burroughs High junior cross-country standout was

being consoled by members of her family and Indian Coach John Peebles

following her race at the CIF Southern Section Division II

preliminaries, Vahoviak’s body language served as a symbol for what


the majority of the local distance runners were feeling at some point


After a breakout season that included a fourth-place finish at the

Foothill League final, Vahoviak joined a list of local talents who

fell short in their quest to reach their respective division final,

as she took 34th in her heat in 20 minutes 9 seconds, a mark 39

seconds behind her time at the 56th annual Mount SAC Invitational on

Oct. 25.


Following a long day of 27 boys’ and girls’ heats spread over five

divisions, only the Bellarmine-Jefferson girls’ squad survived to

race again on the 2.91-mile course Saturday in the Division V final.

The Guards -- led by Pharrin Lewis’ fourth-place effort in 20:39

-- took sixth in their heat to qualify 13th overall in the division

entering Saturday’s race at 9:45 a.m. The Guards would have to move

up six spots to qualify for the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships

on Nov. 29 at Fresno’s Woodward Park.


Amber Herkey (30th; 22:30), Erin Madrid (32nd; 22:37), Cynthia

Hajj (52nd; 23:49) and Shenandoah Fasano (62nd; 24:16) rounded out

the quintet of scoring runners for Jim Couch’s squad.

Aside from Bell-Jeff’s success, the best effort of the day might

have come from an individual who didn’t qualify for Saturday’s


Burbank’s Michelle Horgan continued her late-season surge,

clocking 19:05 to take 11th in the last of four Division I heats,

leading the Bulldogs to a seventh-place effort. Unfortunately for the

freshman, only individuals finishing in the top six from

non-qualifying teams advanced to Saturday’s final.

Melissa Edwards (40th; 20:20), Amanda Browne (42nd; 20:23), Nelly

Shamirian (43rd; 20:25), Allison Ivie (53rd; 20:50), Kiran Jolly

(54th; 20:52), and Emily Ambrose (81st; 22:17) rounded out the

Bulldogs’ effort, which produced a team time that was around 90

seconds faster than at the Mount SAC Invitational.

After reaching the state meet two of the past three years in

Division II, the Burbank boys found their debut at the Division I

prelims to be a tough one, as the Bulldogs took ninth in their heat.

Senior Preston Richardson finished 15th in 15:59, which was 16

seconds behind his time at the Mount SAC Invitational. Ryan

Christoffersen (23rd; 16:09), Kevin Christoffersen (59th; 16:46),

Aram Sahagian (68th; 17:07) and Eric Christoffersen (81st; 17:32)

completed the list of scoring runners for Bob Shaw’s squad.

With usual front-runner Gerad Herkey slowed by a hip injury --

resulting in a 32nd-place finish in 17:37 -- the Bell-Jeff boys only

managed to take 11th in their Division V heat, led by Jeff Pang’s

16th-place finish in 17:01.

Joshua Lepe (69th; 18:59), John Zeithlian (114th; 24:06) and Jeff

Grubb (115th; 24:24) rounded out the scoring runners for the Guards.

Providence’s Nadia Simon took 33rd in her Division IV heat,

clocking 21:49.