The area teams have enjoyed their share of success in cross-country the past few years.
In 2009, seven of the eight local girls’ and boys’ programs from Burbank, Burroughs, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence highs had teams or individuals who advanced to the CIF Southern Section preliminaries.
Leading the way was Burroughs’ Anthony Monroy, who returns for his junior season. He had a breakthrough season and finished the cross-country campaign ranked among the top sophomores in the state. Along with a second-place finish in the Pacific League finals, Monroy won the Division I race at the Mount San Antonio College Invitational, advanced to the CIF finals (placing 21st) and missed qualifying for the state meet by just five seconds.
His accomplishments earned him 2009 All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year honors, along with all-league accolades.
Monroy should lead a strong group of distance runners this year.
Here is how the season is shaping up.
Monroy is coming off a fine track and field season in which he advanced to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet in the 3,200. Indians Coach John Peebles said his runner’s goal this season is to make it to the State Meet.
“He is ready for the challenges that this year will bring, and is hoping to finish the season strong up in Fresno,” said Peebles about the state competition.
Complementing Monroy on the boys’ team will be senior Alex Martinez and juniors Charlie Camacho, Kamal Chahal and Alex Quispe.
“These guys have to realize what they can do, put in the work, and then experience the joy of their efforts,” Peebles said. “However, I am looking for others to push them for varsity spots.”
Other runners who will be vying for scoring spots will be a trio of juniors, Brandon Andrade, Kyle Freudenberg and Ryan Johnson.
On the girls’ side, Burroughs is a question mark.
“We are entering the year of the unknown with only one returner,” Peebles said. “However, I see it as opportunity opening up and I am excited to see who embraces the challenge.”
The lone returner is only a sophomore, Brice Edrington.
Peebles said a runner who could push Edrington for the top spot is junior Giovanna Carrasco. Others who could make impacts are juniors Alisabeth Boensel and Rita Murphy, seniors Kristen Burroughs, Tessa Chandler and Guadalupe Galindo and sophomores Gracia Innocentia and Ashley Velasco.
The Bulldogs girls’ team also has a quality returner in senior McKenzie Paul. A two-time league champion in the 800 meters, Paul was an All-Area and All-Pacific League standout in 2009, finishing fourth at the league finals.
Coach Trevor Marca said Paul has increased her mileage in hopes of making the State Meet. Her 18:38 clocking at the College of the Canyons All-Comers Meet in late July might be an indicator that she is ready for a big season.
Behind Paul is a contingent of strong athletes, led by returning all-league runner Christina Shamirian. Also returning is Griselda Pereyra. Rounding out the top five will be Kayla Martil and CJ Chua.
“The girls seem more focused and driven to be the best they can,” Marca said. “I think they realize the advantage they have by having a front-runner in McKenzie. It takes the pressure off when they know they have a teammate who will always be in contention for the win.”
On the boys’ side, the team lost standout Greg Dotson to graduation. However, despite not having its top runner back, Marca thinks the Bulldogs should be strong.
“I have a problem that any coach would love to have,” Marca said. “I have 10 worthy varsity runners, but only seven spots. It’s going to be painful to make that cut.”
The top runners should be Kevin Coronel, Zach Solomon, Sergio Fraire, Jonathan Cisneros and Brandyn Marko. They are joined by a group that is battling for spots: Andrew Wernstrum, Jacob Jun, Bernie Corea, Jonathan Stoll and Mike Mkrtchyan.
“I think other teams want to count us out since Greg left, but we’ve never been a one-man team,” Marca said. “These guys have learned a lot from having Greg as a teammate, and they plan to proudly carry on the example he set.”
The Guards should have small, and young, squads, on the boys’ and girls’ sides.
The girls’ squad has fallen off after winning three straight Santa Cruz League championships from 2006-08.
The team’s best runner from a year ago, April Tiscareno, graduated. She was the lone Guards girls’ runner to make it to the postseason a year ago, as she finished 44th in her race at the CIF Southern Section preliminaries.
“We just aren’t getting the girls out like we used to,” Bell-Jeff Coach Mike Morgan said. “We are trying to rebuild the program, and it’s going to be tough. It’s just very challenging.”
The Guards’ top two runners should be freshmen Sarah Alas-Viana and Sarah Poblano.
“Other than that, we just don’t know,” Morgan said.
It’s not as bleak on the boys’ side. Bell-Jeff has two returning runners who should improve from their success a year ago.
Those two runners are sophomore Javier Molina and junior Jerry Zepeda. In last year’s Santa Fe League finals, Molina placed 11th and Zepata was 13th, respectively.
“Those two guys should be very good for us,” Morgan said. “I think they give us a nice 1-2 punch. We’re expecting good seasons from them.”
Morgan also has high hopes for freshman Gabriel Ellman.
“He was running really well foir us in the early summer,” he said. “We’re very excited about him.”
The Pioneers’ girls’ team has a fine returning runner in junior Jaii Jiang. Last season, she qualified for the CIF preliminaries. During the track season, she also qualified for the prelims in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.
“Her goal is to qualify for CIF, whether it’s in cross-country or track,” Pioneers Coach Michelle Boucher said. “She wants to make it in every event. She is a real leader, and she leads by example.”
Other impact runners should be senior Therese Vesagas and junior Madeleine Garibaldi.
On the boys’ side, the Pioneers should have a small team, led by juniors Rafael Deligio and Andrew Carrillo and sophomore Aaron Zeigler.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a good showing on the boys’ side,” Boucher said.