Burbank High boys' cross-country falls just short at CIF

WALNUT — An afternoon of upsets included a slight sense of disappointment for the Burbank High boys’ cross-country team.

The Pacific League runner-up Bulldogs, who were hoping to advance to their second CIF State Meet in three years, instead came up two places short of qualifying to the season-ending state meet by finishing ninth at the CIF Southern Section Division I Cross-Country Championships at Mount San Antonio College on Saturday.

“We had a great season and I’m 100% proud of my team. They worked as hard as they could and we just came up short,” Bulldogs Coach Trevor Marca said. “I don’t know if we got a little caught up with some of the other teams competing, but some guys were lured out of their race and it became a matter of just hanging on at the end.”

Burbank entered sixth-ranked in Division I and needed to finish in the top seven to advance to Fresno’s Woodward Park.

The Bulldogs’ 219 points weren’t that far off from eighth-place Fountain Valley (185) and final qualifier Great Oak, which was seventh with 181 points.

However, Burbank was passed along the way to Fresno by three lower-ranked squads, including ninth-ranked Pacific League-rival Crescenta Valley, which finished fifth with 166 points.

“That’s just the way it goes sometimes,” Marca added. “I thought we ran well; other teams just ran a little bit better.”

Perhaps the two biggest impediments for the Bulldogs were the quick pace of the race and the squad’s lack of a true No. 1 runner, as Burbank’s top two runners, seniors Elliot Choe and Arsen Mkrtchyan, were in the mid-30s throughout most of the race.

Choe ultimately finished 28th in breaking his pervious personal record of 15 minutes 30 seconds with a time of 15:25.

“We really wanted to get out fast and stick with the pack up front and take them out one by one,” Choe said. “We just wanted to go to state. That was our main goal since the beginning of the season.”

Like Choe, Mkrtchyan also set a personal best with a mark of 15:25, which topped his entry time of 15:31.

“We definitely tried our best, but so did everybody else,” Mkrtchyan said. “We tried to go out hard and stay within the pack, but it was tough because everyone went so fast. It’s not something you can practice.”

The pack broke up after Choe and Mkrtchyan as the next closest Bulldog was senior Ethan Moskowitz, who was 42nd (15:37), while the squad’s final two scorers were juniors Brennan Doyle (62nd, 15:53) and Enrique Vizcaino (71st, 16:02).

Overall, third-ranked Warren upset top-ranked defending champion Arcadia, 69-77, for the Division I crown.

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