Making a triumphant return

Not many athletes get an opportunity for a second chance on a grand stage. But Burroughs High cross-country runner Anthony Monroy will get that opportunity today.

Monroy, a senior, qualified for the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships last season during his junior season with the Indians. In the competitive Division I race, Monroy placed 19th in 15 minutes 22.07 seconds over the 5-kilometer course.

Monroy's effort was the 10th-best among all the Southern Section runners in Division I and 15th among Southern Section runners across all five divisions, In addition, his time was 27th overall out of 971 runners across all five divisions, including the No. 7 time for a junior (all of whom came from Division I).

Despite his accomplishments, Monroy wasn't happy with his result.

"I didn't run that well at all," said Monroy, a two-time All-Area Male Cross-Country Runner of the Year. "I kinda got off to a bad start and that didn't help. It could have been better."

Monroy will have another shot at the top runners in the state when he takes part in the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships today in the Division I race at 12:20 p.m. at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The Indians standout will be joined in the race by the Burbank boys' team, which qualified for the State Meet for the first time in nine years.

Monroy is only the third Burroughs runner to advance to state competition and just the second to earn back-to-back invitations. Sadee Martinez qualified for the State Meet in girls' competition in 2006 and '07 and Western Nelson made it to the boys' race in 2008.

"I've only had three of them who have qualified," Burroughs Coach John Peebles. "It's not like they grow on trees."

Having participated in the State Meet last year, Monroy thinks the experience he gained can only help him in this year's race.

"I'm going into it this year already having the experience, something that I didn't have last year," Monroy said. "I'm feeling a lot more confident than I was last year. I definitely want to improve my time and my place from what I did last year."

Monroy is coming off a regular season in which he placed second in the Pacific League finals and had solid races at the Mount San Antonio Invitational, CIF Southern Section preliminaries and CIF Southern Section Finals, among others.

The runner is hoping that success will continue in today's race.

"I've gained a lot more race experience this year, and that should help me," he said. "I definitely want to try and aim for the top 10 in state and definitely want to drop my time ....Physically, I'm feeling pretty good."

Being injury-free is a big plus for Monroy. As a sophomore, he qualified for the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet in the 3,200 meters during the track and field season. However, last year he was hobbled by a foot injury and didn't even qualify for the prelims in the race.

Peebles said although Monroy has had some minor afflictions during the season, he hasn't suffered anything as major as the injury that plagued him last spring.

"He's had some little injuries here and there, but nothing like what he had during track," Peebles said. "It's good that he was able to come back after that, what we'll call a disappointment, I guess."

Monroy qualified for state competition after placing sixth in 15:05 on Nov. 19 in the CIF Finals at Mt. SAC. A week earlier in the CIF prelims, he posted the fastest area time, finishing third in 14:35.

"The goal was to get through, and that's what he did," Peebles said. "He should be happy with that. Now let's just see what happens on Saturday."

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