Only seven boys’ teams from each division in the CIF Southern Section finals will get the opportunity to advance to the CIF-State Cross-Country Championship.
Being able to move on could prove to be a difficult task for the squads from Burbank High and Burroughs, as the locals have to go up against some of the top teams in the state in today’s race at 10:05 p.m. at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
The Bulldogs looked primed and ready to meet the challenge of advancing to the State Meet for the first time since 2002 when the team boasted the standout pair of Kyle Ivie and Stratos Christinakis.
“I like where we’re at right now,” said Burbank Coach Trevor Marca, whose team was the runner-up in the Pacific League and is ranked No. 8 in Division I. “We’re confident that we can do it and move on. As I look at it, there are some teams above us that we are really close to.
“In a big meet like the CIF finals, you never know how people are going to react, and our team time [in the CIF prelims] is better than some of those teams ahead of us.”
The Bulldogs have a solid 1-2 punch in sophomore Isaiah Amos and junior Sergio Fraire, who was an all-league honoree last season. The team has also benefited from the efforts of Jonathan Stoll, Bernie Corea and Arsen Mkrtchyan.
The group helped Burbank finish second to top-ranked Rancho Cucamonga, 49-74, on Nov. 12 at the CIF prelims at Mt. SAC.
Amos and Fraire tied for sixth in the race with in 14 minutes, 43 seconds. They were followed by Stoll (17th: 15:15), Corea (19th: 15:18) and Mkrtchyan (25th: 15:24).
“Everybody has to do their part for us to advance,” Marca said. “Sergio and Isaiah have to continue to be our front runners, and I think our top two is as good as any other in the state. The other guys have been running fine and they are going to gave to keep that going.”
Burroughs, which finished third in league and advances for the second straight year after not qualifying for the finals for 30 years, looks to be a long shot to advance.
In last week’s prelims, the unranked Indians took the fourth and final qualifying spot with 124 points, just outlasting Santa Fe, which finished with 126 points.
Burroughs has a strong front runner in senior Anthony Monroy. The two-time All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year advanced to the State Meet last season as a junior. Monroy had a fine showing in the competitive Division I race in 2010, placing 19th in 15:22.07 over the 5-kilometer course.
At last week’s prelims, Monroy — the Pacific League runner-up — posted the fastest area time, finishing third in 14:35. The Indians’ second runner, senior Brandon Andrade, finished 21st in 15:24.
If the Indians don’t advance as a team, Monroy could make it through to state competition as an individual, as he did last season.
Burroughs Coach John Peebles said the scenario for his team to advance is pretty cut and dry.
“Basically, try and run the race of your life,” he said. “That’s the philosophy for this week.”
Both area teams will go against top competition in the Division I race. Rancho Cucamonga, Trabuco Hills and Arcadia are ranked 1,2 and 3 in the state. Marca said toppling any one of those three squads would be nearly impossible.
Other teams that the locals could be competing against for state spots are Dana Hills, El Toro and Long Beach Poly.
“Being all seniors going after it, there is some extra motivation for our guys,” Peebles said. “But Division I is always loaded and we know the competition is going to be tough.”
The State Meet will take place Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno.