WALNUT — Motivation came in various forms for the Burbank and Burroughs high cross-country programs at Saturday’s second day of the 66th annual Mt. San Antonio College Cross-Country Invitational.
The CIF Southern Section Division I eighth-ranked Burbank boys highlighted the day’s efforts with their own unique incentive in winning their Division I varsity race, 40-98, over El Rancho.
“We really had to go to the bathroom before the race, but it was crowded, so we had to run on a full tank,” said Bulldogs senior Arsen Mkrtchyan, who earned fourth in 15 minutes, 31 seconds. “It’s great to finish and it’s great to do so well in this race. Maybe that helped.”
A little less than a mile into the race, Bulldog seniors Elliot Choe (third, 15:30), Mkrtchyan and Ethan Moskowitz (eighth, 15:43) were positioned eight, ninth and 10th climbing the switchbacks and remained within the top 10 even though their places changed.
With a half-mile remaining, the Bulldogs’ final two scorers, junior Enrique Vizcaino (11th, 15:52) and senior Gabriel Ellman (14th, 15:55), moved within the top 20 as all five runners eventually finished inside the top 15.
“We just wanted to go out and do our best,” Choe said. “It was kind of cold out here early. That pushed me to run a little faster.”
While the Burroughs boys didn’t place a runner in the top 10 in their Division I race, the Indians still secured a bronze with 123 points, trailing Quartz Hill (116) and West Ranch (120).
The Indians did boast a strong four-pack of runners, including the one-two punch of junior medalists Shane Thompson (11th, 15:53) and Elias Hoxsie (12th, 15:53).
“This was my first time ever in this race, so my immediate goal was just to make sure I finished,” Thompson said. “This is one of the toughest courses I’ve ever run.”
Hoxsie didn’t agree with his teammate’s assessment.
“This course was so-so. I heard it was the toughest and it’s OK,” said Hoxsie, who shattered his previous personal record of 16:15. “I just wanted to get a PR and I got it.”
Junior Garrett Boulais (18th, 16:01) and senior Ricky Mendez (24th, 16:12) had the distinction of finishing in the top 25 for Burroughs.
While only a sophomore, Burbank’s Candela Fernandez already owns just about every school cross-country record.
At Saturday morning’s Division I Sub-Sweepstakes, the blue-and-pink-socked Fernandez took aim at one last holdover – the program’s top Mt. SAC course mark of 18:14 set by former All-Area Runner of the Year McKenzie Paul in 2010.
Fernandez’ attempt fell short as she medaled, taking 13th in 18:46.
Yet, there wasn’t much disappointment.
“This is a learning experience and I went out too fast,” Fernandez said. “I wanted to stay up front and I went out too fast in the first mile and that hurt me.”
Fernandez was third at both the mile and two-mile mark, but struggled down the final 1,000 meters in losing 10 positions before crossing the finish line.
“Candela’s growth as a runner has been great and she’s only a sophomore,” Burbank Coach Trevor Marca said. “She’s already broken every other record we have and she’ll get another chance at Mt. SAC, too.”
As a squad, the Bulldogs were 15th with 335 points as San Clemente won the event with 88 points. Senior Arlette Movsesyan (63rd, 19:56) was Burbank’s No. 2 runner.
The Burroughs girls also took part in a Division I race and earned 10th place with 270 points in a competition won by Los Alamitos (66).
Indians junior Valerie Monroy finished 50th (21:01), while senior Dayanna Yanez was 55th (21:14).