Monroy miles ahead of pack

It might be a little over dramatic to say Anthony Monroy had something to prove during his senior cross-country season at Burroughs High this past fall.

In his final season, Monroy was trying to put a disappointing end to his junior track and field campaign behind him.

In the spring, he was hampered by a foot injury that impeded his chance of advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division I competition in the boys' 3,200 meters after qualifying for the Masters Meet in the same event in 2010 as a sophomore.

"It was a bit disappointing after I wasn't able to make it," Monroy said. "But I knew because of the injury that I had I really couldn't do anything about it. It was a tough situation."

Monroy spent the summer working hard, putting in the mileage and trying to heal completely.

"After track season last year, I was really looking forward to the cross-country season and I definitely wanted to put myself in the mix and hopefully be up there with the top competitors," Monroy said.

A healthy and motivated Monroy proved to be a lot for competitors to handle. The senior put up impressive times, placed second in the competitive Pacific League, helped pace the Indians to the Division I finals and made his second straight appearance in the CIF-State Cross-Country Championships.

"I was satisfied with the way I was able to run this year," Monroy said. "I was able to get some pretty good times, some that even shocked me."

It is because of his accomplishments that Monroy has been voted the 2011 All-Area Boys' Cross-Country Runner of the Year by the writers and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, La Cañada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun.

It is the third straight season in which Monroy has earned runner-of-the-year honors.

Monroy's exploits this season helped cement his legacy as one of the most successful distance runners in Burroughs' history.

He is just the third Indians' cross-country 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.

"Definitely [Monroy has] been one of the top guys to come through the program," Burroughs Coach John Peebles said. "The big thing about it is regardless of their ability in the program, I always like to see good kids come through, whether they're fast runners on not, and he definitely falls into the category of being a good kid. That's what I'm happiest about."

Monroy qualified for the state meet after placing sixth in 15 minutes 5 seconds on Nov. 19 in the CIF Southern Section Division I finals at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. In the CIF-SS prelims on Nov. 12, he posted the fastest area time, finishing third in 14:35.

In the state meet, Monroy placed 31st in the Division I race at Woodward Park in Fresno in 15:50. In 2010, Monroy placed 19th in 15:22.07 over the five-kilometer course.

Monroy said he was hoping to better his 2010 finish in the race, but he ran into a problem. He admits he might have made a crucial mistake in the beginning of the race.

"I went out with the lead group and they just went out too fast," he said. "I was kind of strong after the first mile and after that it really hit me."

Said Peebles: "He went for it in state, and unfortunately it didn't pay off. Sometimes when you want to go get something you have to step out of the comfort zone a little bit. Unfortunately it didn't work, but that's the way it goes.

"I always like to think about all the races he did run well and focus on that."

The senior enjoyed success in Pacific League competition, even winning the first league race of the season Sept. 22 at Griffith Park, clocking a 15:24. In the league finals, he placed second (14:34.18) behind Arcadia's Sergio Gonzalez (14:26.41).

"It was really tough in league this year," said Monroy, who paced the Indians boys' squad to the CIF-SS Finals for the second straight season after not qualifying to the event in 30 years. "I've never been pushed like that before. And to be able to win one of the league races … that hasn't been done by someone other than an Arcadia runner in who knows when. I really felt that was an accomplishment for me."

Monroy, who won a Burbank city title in September, also turned in a solid effort in the Mt. SAC Invitational in October, winning the Division I blue race in 15:13.

Burbank Coach Trevor Marca has seen Monroy's exploits throughout the past few years. Although the Indians and Bulldogs are city rivals, Marca said he has nothing but the utmost respect for the Indians' runner.

"Anthony Monroy has always been a class act," said Marca, who led his team to an 11th-place finish in Division I at the state meet. "My runners like him and respect him. He has set the bar high for cross-country in this area and our guys have just tried to chase what he's done. …He has pushed us to a higher level."

With his high school cross-country career behind him, Monroy said he is still weighing his options as to where he will attend college. Until then, he still has his senior track and field season in front of him, and Monroy said he is determined to make it a good one.

"I am really looking forward to track," he said. "Hopefully, I can do what I did in cross-country and make it to the state meet."

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