BURBANK — Just one of the four area track and field programs is able to practice and compete on a home track.
Providence and Bellarminne-Jefferson highs have never had an on-campus venue to call their own. They are joined this season by Burroughs, which has been displaced because of renovation to Memorial Field.
“It’s been a hassle, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Burroughs Coach John Peebles said about the displacement. “You have to go on.”
The Indians join the Guards in holding their practice sessions at Burbank High. Burroughs will have two home meets on the Bulldogs’ track this season.
Leading the area this season should be a pair of seasoned runners.
Burbank senior McKenzie Paul — the 2010 All-Area Female Cross-Country Runner of the Year — will be attempting to win her third straight Pacific League title in the girls’ 800 meters.
Burroughs junior Anthony Monroy — a two-time Male Cross-Country Runner of the Year — will be looking to build on a 2010 campaign that led him to the Masters Meet in the boys’ 3,200.
With the season opening with meets this week, here is how the area teams are shaping up.
The Indians have enjoyed a massive turnout, as the program boasts more than 200 athletes, 30 more than any of Peebles’ past squads.
On the boys’ side, Monroy leads the way. He is coming off a junior cross-country season in which he placed 19th at the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships.
At last year’s Masters Meet, Monroy placed 11th in a personal-best time of 9:18.42 in the 3,200. He has also had a 1:59 in the 800 and a 4:20 in the 1,600.
Also on the boys’ side, senior Devin Rojas is the team’s top sprinter, and e will take part in races from the 100 to 400. He placed second in league in the 400 last season.
Junior Brandon Andrade has run 2:00 in 800 as a sophomore and should be pushing for a postseason spot, and senior Alejandro Rosas is the squad’s top returning hurdler.
Also pushing for a CIF spot will be senior Matt Volland, who has gone over the 20-foot mark in the long jump.
A returning league champion is senior Austin Allen in the pole vault. He has a personal-best of 14 feet 6.
On the girls’ side, the Indians have a group who could make their way to CIF competition.
Leading the way are seniors Justice Shank, Paris Vaughn and Shannon Kermah. Shank has a 5-6 personal-best in the high jump and finished second in the event last season in league. Vaughn, a league champion in the long jump, is also a versatile sprinter and jumper. Kermah was a league championship last season in the triple jump and placed second in the long jump. She is also a top sprinter in the 100.
With Dotson graduated and running at UC Santa Barbara, the Bulldogs boys’ team will look for a
new star to emerge.
Seniors Haibert Sarkisian, Daniel Kang and Alex Boze will handle the jumping duties, Brandon Weiss and Steven Rivera will contribute in the throws and Kevin Coronel leads a deep distance squad.
Moving up to the varsity ranks and hopefully providing an immediate impact will be junior Daniel Mata in the hurdles, sophomore Bruce Lee — who was the freshman-sophomore league champion last year — in the shot put and sophomore Sergio Fraire and freshman Isaiah Amos in the middle-distances.
Newcomers Teddy Arlington and Jose Rodriguez should give the Bulldogs some much-needed points in the sprints.
“It’s tough when you lose an athlete like Dotson,” Burbank Coach Darin Wolf said. “But because of his success, I think we will actually be a stronger team this year.”
On the girls’ side, the Bulldogs return one of the best female runners the program has ever had in Paul. The two-time Pacific League champion in the 800 has already signed with Sacramento State. This year, Paul has her sights set on several school records and hopes to make a run for the State Meet.
Haley Pirruccello, who set the school record in the 300 hurdles last year, returns for her junior year and will be joined by Hannah Barlow in handling the hurdling duties.
Senior Angelica Pozos and sophomores Emily Frazier and Akxa Alex will help out in the jumping events, while senior Jordan Card and junior Hannah Park will take part in the throwing events.
Joining Paul in the distance races will be juniors Christina Shamirian and Kristen Fregoso, along with sophomore Kayla Martil, who was the freshman-sophomore league champion in the 800 last season.
“We definitely have some question marks on the girls’ side, but we have a nice mix of veterans and hard working newcomers, so we’ll see how it turns out,” Wolf said.
The Pioneers have a small squad, but do boast some talented athletes.
Leading the pack is sophomore Marylin Petrov. Last season, she won Delphic League titles in the girls’ 100 and 100. She also advanced in to the CIF Finals in the 100 hurdles.
“She is also going to compete in the field events for us this season,” Providence Coach Michelle Boucher said. “She is just a great athlete and we will use her as much as we can.”
Another girls’ standout is junior Jaii Jiang, who qualified for CIF competition last season in the 1,600 and 3,200. She also runs the 800.
On the boys’ side, junior Rafael Deligio will compete in the 800 and 1,600 and freshman Yujin Okuda and senior Brian Aguilon will take part in the distance races.
“Hopefully, some of our guys will be able to do well in league, but our league is just so tough,” Boucher said.
Most of the Guards’ best female athletes also compete for the school’s basketball team. With the Bell-Jeff hoop squad waiting to hear if it will earn a bid for the state playoffs, Coach Rolando Aguirre might not have his female athletes for awhile.
When they do come out, juniors Jasmine Smith and Rishonda Napier, along with sophomore Leslie Lopez-Wood, should help the Guards in a variety of sprints and field events.
With the boys’ team, Aguirre said he should have a talented group in the 400 and 1,600 relay events with Jonathan Smith, David Bustos, Elijah Reed and Courbin Lee.
“That should be a very good group for us,” Aguirre said. “We will use those guys in the sprints as well.”
Also in the sprints races will be Joshua Martinez and Javier Molina.
The team should have a solid group of hurdlers in Michael Gomez, CJ Reyes, Ryan Meza and Gerald D’Acosta. In the throwing events, Jomar Navarro and his twin brother, Trystin, will be joined by Neil Santos, Geraldo Paz and Mohammed Allouche.
Pacing the distance and middle-distance runners will be Nathan Guzman, Garbriel Ellman, Jerry Zapata, Anthony Zapata, Darius Zapata and Fernando DeLaPena