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Running with his chance

Although he was just a sophomore, Anthony Monroy expected a lot of himself at the 2009 CIF Southern Section finals.

Running against some of the top athletes in the state in the Division I race, the Burroughs High standout was hoping to run well enough in the race at Mount San Antonio College to advance to state competition.

However, that goal fell a little short. Monroy placed 21st in 15 minutes 26 seconds, missing the cut by just five seconds.

“I was disappointed,” Monroy said of his performance last season. “I was hoping that I would be able to go on to state. I was still learning how to race at that time.

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“But it was a learning experience for me, so hopefully I learned something from it,”

Burroughs Coach John Peebles said Monroy’s performance in the race was nothing to be disappointed with.

“He finished 21st last year as a sophomore in Southern Section Division I — that’s amazing,” Peebles said. “The fact that he didn’t move on; there are tons of people who weren’t able to move on.”

There was no disappointment at this year’s CIF finals. Running on a flat Mt. SAC course because of rainy conditions last week, Monroy placed sixth in the Division I race in 15:46.

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The performance punched Monroy’s ticket to the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships. He will run in the Division I boys’ race at 12:50 p.m. today at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Monroy, the All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year in 2009, is the latest in a tradition of Burroughs runners who have competed in state competition. He joins Sadee Martinez (2006 and 2007) and Western Nelson (2009) as athletes who have qualified for the prestigious competition in recent years.

“You feel fortunate when you do move on [to state], because there’s a lot of good people who don’t move on,” Peebles said.

This will be Monroy’s first taste of state competition. Although he’s never competed on the Woodward Park course, he did venture to the meet in 2008 as a freshman to watch Nelson run.

“I’m looking forward to running on the course,” Monroy said. “Since it’s my first time, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Monroy is coming off a fine Pacific League season in which he ran against some of the top athletes in the state. He helped the Indians finish second in league behind a talented Arcadia team that features star runner Ammar Moussa. In the finals, Monroy placed third in 15:32.05.

Arcadia went on to win the Division I championship.

In the Southern Section Division I preliminaries Nov. 13 at Mt. SAC, Monroy was second in 15:19.

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Following a fine 2010 track and field season and a lot of work last summer, Monroy has continued to lower his times during the cross-country campaign. He was able to advance to the CIF Masters Meet in the 3,200 meters last spring.

At the Mount San Antonio College Invitational in October, Monroy placed sixth in the prestigious Individual Sweepstakes race, finishing the three-mile course in 14:45. The mark was the eighth-fastest of the day, throughout all divisions, and was the fastest ever by a Burroughs runner on the course (Nelson ran 15:06 in 2008).

“He’s stronger, he’s faster and he’s better this season,” Peebles said.

Monroy said competing in the Masters Meet in track and field not only helped his confidence, but it showed him he had the potential to be run against top talent.

“Racing with the top runners in the state definitely helps make you faster,” he said. “Because it’s better competition, it helps you improve your times.”

In his first State Meet race, Monroy hasn’t set any specific performance goal for himself in the competition.

“I just want to run the best race that I can, and hopefully improve,” Monroy said.

Just making it to the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships in an accomplishment in itself.

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