BURBANK — Greg Dotson knew he was going to have to run the race of his life if he hoped to capture a state championship.
Running in the boys' 800 meters against the top athlete in the nation in Sean Krinik of Placentia Valencia, the Burbank High senior would have to leave it all on the track and hope that would be enough.
Although Dotson did run the race of his young life Saturday at the CIF-State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis, Krinik proved to be just too formidable.
However, there was much for Dotson to be proud of after placing second in a personal-best time of 1 minute, 49.40 seconds.
Krinik won the race in a blistering 1:48.20. It was his second straight state crown.
Dotson's mark broke a 36-year-old school record in the 800. The senior broke John Muisch's time of 1:51 in the 880-yard race, set at the 1974 state meet. When the time was converted from yards to meters, Dotson had the coveted record.
"I'm very proud of the way that I ran in the race," said Dotson, who is headed to UC Santa Barbara. "To break the school record is something that means a lot to me. I'm glad that I was able to finally set the record without a doubt."
Dotson thought that he had broken Muisch's record when he clocked a 1:50.38 at the Masters Meet on May 28 at Cerritos College. However, after discrepancies with the conversion of the old mark, it was decided that Dotson and Muisch would share the record.
"Now there's no doubt," Burbank distance Coach Trevor Marca said. "He has the record to himself."
Setting that record didn't come without a monumental effort from Dotson. In a torrid race that might have been one of the best 800 competitions in state history, Krinik's mark was the best in the nation this year. Dotson wasn't far behind, setting the third-best time this year.
In addition, Marca said Dotson's runner-up time would have been good enough to win a state championship in the previous 13 stare-title races.
"That just goes to show you how fast the race really was," Marca said. "But you have to give credit to Krinik; he ran a great race and he deserved to win it."
Marca said he and Dotson talked at length prior to the race, determining what the runner's strategy would be, and how he would deal with Krinik.
"We wanted to take it to Krinik," Marca said. "We wanted to make him uncomfortable and put him in a place that he's never been in before."
That meant Dotson would have to take the pace out hard in the first lap. That's exactly what he did.
Nathan Strum of Pioneer and Kevin Griffith of San Ramon Valley had the early lead and Dotson and Krinik were trailing when the group went by 200 meters in under 26 seconds.
Dotson made his move on the home stretch to take the lead at 400, which he passed in 52.3.
"I felt really good after that first lap," Dotson said. "The longer I led the better I felt."
Dotson continued to lead well into the second lap, but Krinik was right on his heels.
"I felt him coming up at about 300 left, and I wasn't going to let him pass," Dotson said. "I was able to hold him off for a little bit until we went into the final curve."
On that curve, Krinik surged in front to take the lead with less than 200 meters left.
"I couldn't have been more proud of Greg and the way he ran in that race," Marca said. "I was choking up and I had tears in my eyes because I knew he went out there and gave it the very best the he could.
"There is no shame in finishing second when you poured everything that you have into something like that, and you just happen to come up a big short."
At the awards ceremony after the race, Krinik saluted Dotson and said the Bulldog did most of the work on the race.
"It was just a good way to end everything," said Dotson, who won a CIF Southern Section Division I championship last month. "I ran my best race and I was able to get the school record."