Making his mark

Burbank Leader

BURBANK HIGH — Burbank High track and field standout Greg Dotson erased a long standing drought at the CIF Southern Section Finals two weeks ago.

In the Division I boys' 800-meter final, Dotson ran to victory to give the Bulldogs the program's first CIF championship in 21 years.

The previous title was won in the boys' 3A 1,600 in 1989 by Todd Lewis.

"That felt great to win it," said Dotson, a senior. "It was also nice to be able to do something that hasn't been done at the school in 21 years. I was happy I was able to accomplish that."

That victory was only a prelude to what was to come in the postseason.

Dotson sent a new personal-best at the CIF Southern Section Master's Meet on May 28 at Cerritos College. By finishing second in the competitive race in 1 minute, 50.38, he tied a school record set in 1974 by John Muisch.

Dotson will get the opportunity to break another Burbank drought tonight when he runs in the 800 race final at the CIF-State Track and Field Championships, which take place at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis.

He made it to the final by qualifying in a preliminary race Friday night. Dotson placed second in his heat with a 1:52.13 and will be seeded No. 5 for the final. Sean Krinik of Placentia Valencia won his heat in 1:50.44 and will be the top seed.

The 800 final is scheduled for 8 p.m.

"Greg was leading in his race and the other guy went out in front in the second lap," Burbank Coach Trevor Marca said. "I think he didn't want to go all out and he wanted to save something for [today]. By qualifying fifth, he is right in the middle for the final."

The last Bulldog athlete to win a state crown was Jeff Nelson, who captured the boys' two-mile run in 1979.

Dotson will be going against a tough opponent in Krinik, who has the fastest time in the nation this year, is seeded No. 1 for the finals.

Despite the tough competition, Dotson said he is ready to step up and vie for that state championship.

"I feel ready," he said. "I'm excited about it. Someone has to finally take out Krinik, and it might just as well be me. It would be crazy that the first time he loses a race it comes in the finals."

Dotson and Krinik have run head to head twice this season, and Dotson has never beaten his foe.

In the Master's Meet race, Dotson said he felt he didn't run his best race. However, he plans not to leave anything to chance in the final."

"I just have to go out and not hold anything back in the first lap," Dotson said. "In this race I don't have to worry about running a particular time, it will all be about finishing first."

If he does capture a state title, it would put him in an elite group of Burbank athletes. Bob Pierce won the boys' 120-yard high hurdles in 1959 (14.3), Muisch won the boys' 880 championship in 1974 (1:51.0) and Nelson captured back-to-back titles in the boys' two-mile in 1978 (8:59.29) and in 1979 (8:47.35).

Add to the mix a program that has also produced standouts like Rick Romero, Lin Whatcott, Scott Schweitzer, Freddy Ortega and Kyle Ivie, and Dotson finds himself among some of the all-time Bulldogs greats.

To illustrate how illustrious some of the marks have been run at Burbank over the years, you need only look at the 1,600. Earlier this season, Dotson ran a blistering 4:11 over the distance. That mark would be a school record at many other high schools. However, the 4:11 is only the fourth-best in Burbank school history.

"I know the history the school has had in running, and I'm really surprised to even be mentioned with those guys," Dotson said. "The school has a history and times that when I tell guys from other schools our records, they can't believe it."

Being a former Burbank runner himself, Marca is well aware of the lore of track and field athletes who have come through the school over the years. He feels Marca should definitely be mentioned among the greats.

"Absolutely he belongs there," said Marca, a former league 3,200 champion and a former collegiate All-American. "If you look at his times and his accomplishments, and winning the CIF championship, he deserves to be in that group.

"Obviously Nelson is in a class by himself, having set a national two-mile record that stood for [29 years]. But with Muisch, Lewis, Whatcott, and Rick Romero, really the who's who of running at Burbank, he has to be right there."

With or without a state title, Dotson has etched himself among the greats of Burbank. And even finishing second to Krinik can't take that away from him.

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