This is the first in a four-part series looking back on the sports accomplishments of the four local high schools during the 2011-12 year. This installment is Burbank High:
It didn’t take long from the beginning of the school year for a Burbank High team to enjoy a successful season, as the Bulldogs boys’ cross-country squad surprised many during the fall campaign.
It had been nine years since the boys’ program qualified for the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships. However, with a formidable 1-2 punch in sophomore Isaiah Amos and junior Sergio Fraire, Burbank qualified for state competition in Division I at Woordard Park in Fresno in November.
In the State Meet, Fraire paced the team by placing 30th in 15 minutes 49 seconds, as the Bulldogs finished 11th with a team total of 293 points. Fraire finished ahead of teammates Jonathan Stoll (66th; 16:16), Amos (78th; 16:25), Bernie Corea (79th; 16:25) and Arden Mkrtchyan (115th; 16:45).
Prior to the season, Burbank Coach Trevor Marca hatched a plan to get the Bulldogs some much-needed experience last season and get the runners ready for a push for the State Meet in 2012. However, Burbank enjoyed success ahead of schedule.
The Bulldogs finished second behind a powerful Arcadia team in the Pacific League finals. In the CIF Southern Section preliminaries, Burbank finished second to top-ranked Rancho Cucamonga, 49-74, in the competitive Division I race.
In the CIF Southern Section Finals a week later, the Bulldogs notched the seventh and final qualifying spot, punching their ticket to state competition.
Two Bulldogs individuals also enjoyed success during the fall in girls’ tennis.
Burbank’s No. 1 duo of Ashley Basco and Meredy Gharabegi set the initial goal of making it to the finals last season after being eliminated in the semifinals in 2010. Once they accomplished that, the second-seeded Bulldogs tandem took aim at the title against Arcadia’s Elizabeth Liev and Nadia Pacheco-Amaro, advancing to its first Pacific League championship match.
Basco and Gharabegi fell short of the championship, 6-3, 6-3, but were happy about reaching their goal of making the finals, which automatically qualified them for the CIF individuals Tournament.
The girls’ volleyball team qualified for the playoffs in the fall with a third-place effort in the Pacific League.
The big story from the winter season involved the Burbank girls’ basketball team. Under Coach Bruce Breeden, the Bulldogs made history by advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division I-A semifinals for the first time. The squad also notched a first by qualifying for the state playoffs.
In the postseason, the Bulldogs defeated Fountain Valley, 60-41, Upland, 62-40, and Temecula Valley, 58-49, to advance to the semifinals. In the final four, Burbank fell to a talented Summit squad, 76-49. In the state tournament, the Bulldogs ran into a juggernaut in Mater Dei and lost, 77-35.
Burbank (19-14) was paced by senior Damarie Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who earned All-CIF Southern Section, All-Area and All-Pacific League first-team honors. Along with scoring 12.2 points a game, she also averaged 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.4 steals.
Another fine accomplishment in the winter was turned in by Coach Loi Phan and the Burbank boys’ soccer team. Before Phan took over the program, the team experienced discipline problems that led to CIF sanctions for the 2011-12 campaign. The squad also hadn’t reached the postseason in two years.
However, things changed under Phan. The Bulldogs rolled through the season with no major infractions and the squad even qualified for the playoffs after placing fourth in the Pacific League.
The Bulldogs girls’ soccer team placed fourth in league and qualified for the postseason as well.
Under the direction of Coach Jose Hernandez, the Bulldogs boys’ basketball squad made the playoffs after tying for third in the Pacific League. Hernandez stepped down two weeks ago to take a position at Corona High.
There was more success during the spring campaign, led by the Burbank softball team. The Bulldogs stayed in the hunt for a Pacific League championship late in the season and enjoyed a fine ride in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
Under Coach Nicole Drabecki, Burbank (23-7) rolled to the quarterfinals for the first time in two decades, despite getting the No. 3 seed from the Pacific League after tying for second place.
The team received a fine effort from freshman pitcher Caitlyn Brooks, who earned first-team All-CIF, All-Area and all-league accolades. Brooks made an instant impact with the Bulldogs, notching a 16-5 record and a 1.95 earned-run average to go along with 180 strikeouts in 147 innings.
The Bulldogs baseball team enjoyed a nice turnaround, qualifying for the postseason after not making the playoffs in 2011. Burbank notched some big wins in the Pacific League, finishing tied for second.
Senior pitcher Daniel Starkand led the way. The left-hander was dominating in league, as he was 5-3 with a 0.60 ERA in 58 innings pitched in 10 games. He surrendered just eight runs (five unearned) and had five shutouts. In addition, he had 41 strikeouts and walked 12.
Starkand was an All-Area and all-league first-team selection.
In the pool, senior Alex Lambert put together a successful season for the Bulldogs. Lambert captured a league championship in the 100-yard freestyle in 48.93.
In CIF competition, the Burbank’s boys’ team placed 39th in Division II with 21 points. Lambert finished 10th in the 100 freestyle (48.00) and then turned in a 13th-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:46.97).
A group of Bulldogs also had fine efforts in winning Pacific League titles in track and field. Pacing Burbank was freshman Julia Newton, who had a hand in two victories. Along with placing first in the girls’ 100 meters, she also ran a leg on the winning Burbank girls’ 4x100 relay team that set a school record. Newton captured the 100 title in 12.60. She also teamed up with Haley Pirruccello, Keren Zepeda and Felicia Tomitsa to take the sprint relay in 49.14. Newton also placed third in the 200.
The Bulldogs won a title on the boys’ side in the discus, as Andy Hurtado had a first-place throw of 123 feet 3.
Burbank also had a strong showing in the girls’ pole vault. The Bulldogs went 1-2 in the event, as Hannah Park placed first and Akxa Alex was second with identical 8-6 efforts. Park was given the win on fewer misses.
The Bulldogs had a three-event qualifier in Pirruccello. Along with making it with the relay team she also moved on with a third-place effort in the 100 hurdles (17.18) as well as taking third in the 300 hurdles (48.91).
Although it didn’t make the playoffs, the Burbank boys’ volleyball team had a respectable year in its first season back on the varsity level, placing fifth in league. The Bulldogs went 8-15, 4-8 in league.