Sophomore sensation

The Burroughs High cross-country program has turned out some successful athletes the past few years.

Runners like Sadee Martinez and Western Nelson have done well in league, set school records and advanced to state competition.

However, despite the talent within the Indians girls’ and boys’ programs through the years, the school has never had an athlete honored as the All-Area Runner of the Year.

Competing in the tough Foothill League before moving to the Pacific League a few years ago, Burroughs runners have routinely had to take a back seat to a host of talented athletes.

“There have been a lot of great runners who have come out of this school,” Burroughs sophomore Anthony Monroy said. “I ran with one of them last year, Western.”

That deficiency changed this past season, as Monroy was finally able to break the Burroughs drought.

Monroy had a breakthrough season and finished the cross-country campaign ranked among the top sophomores in the state. Along with a second-place finish in the Pacific League finals, Monroy won the Division I race at the Mount San Antonio College Invitational, advanced to the CIF finals and missed qualifying for the state meet by just five seconds.

It is because of his accomplishments that Monroy has been voted the 2009 Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year by the writers and editors of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun.

“I felt pretty good about how I did this season,” said Monroy, who said he averaged 50 to 60 miles a week during the season. “I did a lot more than I expected to do. I just wanted to keep improving through the season.”

Monroy first burst on the cross-country scene last season as a freshman. He had never done much distance running before coming to Burroughs, as he grew up playing soccer.

“I was just a lot better at running, and I liked it a lot,” he said. “So, I thought I’d give it a try. What I like about cross-country is running as a team.”

It became apparent early on last season that Monroy was an emerging talent.

“If you look at his freshman year when he was our No. 2 runner, most years he would have been our No. 1, if it wasn’t for Western.

“But it’s all about proving yourself, and he was able to go out and prove himself.”

Monroy, who maintains a grade-point-average over 4.0, began his sophomore season by winning the 19th annual Burbank All-City Cross-Country Meet in September.

His biggest win of the year came in October at the Mount San Antonio Invitational. In a Division I race that featured some of the top runners in the Southern Section, Monroy placed first in 15 minutes 26 seconds.

“That was a good race for me,” he said. “I was surprised that I was able to finish first.”

Monroy also had a fine effort in the Pacific League final in November at Griffith Park. The sophomore placed second (15:24) behind Arcadia standout Amar Moussa (15:03), notching All-Pacific League honors, just as he did as a freshman, when he was also an All-Area pick.

Monroy then moved on to the CIF Southern Section Division I preliminaries, where he was able to advance to the Southern Section finals after notching a second-place finish (15:13) in his heat.

His result was the second-fastest time by an Indians runner at Mt. SAC behind a 15:06 effort by Nelson in 2008.

In the final, however, Monroy admits he didn’t have one of his best efforts. He placed 21st in 15:26, missing the cut to advance to the state meet by five seconds.

“It was a good experience,” Monroy said of the race. “I just went out too fast at the beginning and I kind of didn’t finish that strong. It was an experience running against all the good runners in the race.”

Peebles said Monroy looked visibly tired in the race.

“He was just physically drained,” Peebles said. “Maybe some of that was emotionally basically, the last mile he was just running on fumes. The way he looked in that last mile, it was just amazing that he was able to finish where he finished.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t his day. But it definitely wasn’t because of a lack of effort. The effort was there.”

With the cross-country season behind him, Monroy will now concentrate on the track and field campaign, where he will likely run the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.

Peebles said he has been pleased with how Monroy has been able to improve since his freshman season.

“He has been able to continue his progression, and that will be the goal for the next few years,” Peebles said. “You can’t be satisfied at where you’re at, you have to work to get better and see where it takes you.”

Monroy has a lot of running left through the next few years to see where his efforts take him. He is hoping that will ultimately lead to the state championship.

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