Dotson goes the distance

Being a celebrated middle-distance runner, one might think Greg Dotson would cringe at the mention of running long-distance races.

Moreover, it would be expected that the Burbank High standout would shudder at the suggestion of taking to the track as a sprinter.

However, Dotson, who just finished his senior season, is a rare breed. Not only does the champion 800-meter runner actually enjoy distance running, he also jumps at the chance to compete in the sprints.

"I really got more into the [1,600] this year," Dotson said. "I like the 800 more than anything, but I really tried to get into the [1,600] more. Being in cross-country, I also know that I have to run the distances to improve in my other races.

"It's also pretty cool to run in the sprints, and I really enjoyed doing that."

Dotson's versatility as an athlete was put on display at the Pacific League cross-town rivalry meet with Burroughs. Along with cruising to wins in the 800 (1 minute, 57.07 seconds) and the 1,600 (4:25.76), he also showed he has some speed by winning the 200 (23.32).

Burbank Coach Trevor Marca said Dotson's willingness to run various races makes him an exceptional athlete.

"Unlike most 800 guys, he actually likes to run the longer distances," Marca said. "He looks forward to running over longer distances to improve his strength and his endurance. Also, the mile is an event he has become very good at, and the [4x400 relay] is an event he really loves.

"We had him run his share of 200 races this year to improve on his speed."

Dotson showed his prowess in the 1,600, running a 4:11 to put him fourth on a prestigious Burbank all-time list.

Although he has proven he can run a variety of events, Dotson's bread and butter is the 800. During his senior campaign, he emerged as one of the top competitors in the event in California, as well as the nation.

Dotson won the league 800 championship and went on to capture a CIF Southern Section title. That success led him all the way to the CIF-State Track and Field Championships, where he put on a gutsy performance to take the runner-up spot. In addition, he broke a longstanding Burbank school record in the 800.

With all that he was able to accomplish, Dotson was voted the 2010 Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the editors and sportswriters of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun.

In a season of fine achievements, Dotson's crowning moment came at the CIF-State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis.

In an epic battle with Sean Krinik of Placentia Valencia — who had the top time in the nation — Dotson held his own. In a torrid race that might have been one of the best 800 competitions in state history, Krinik's amazing winning mark of 1:48.20 was the best in the nation this year. Dotson wasn't far behind, setting the third-best time this year with a 1:49.40.

Marca said Dotson's runner-up time would have been good enough to win a state championship in the previous 13 state-title races.

"That just goes to show you how fast the race really was," Marca said. "But you have to give credit to Krinik, he ran a great race and he deserved to win it."

Even Krinik had high praise for Dotson.

"He's an awesome runner and I respect the heck out of him," he said. "It's really fun to compete against him and I know he makes me run faster."

Dotson's mark broke a 36-year-old Burbank school record in the 800. The senior broke John Muisch's time of 1:51 in the 880-yard race, set at the 1974 state meet. When the time was converted from yards to meters, Dotson had the coveted record.

"I'm very proud of the way that I ran in the race," said Dotson, who is headed to UC Santa Barbara. "To break the school record is something that means a lot to me. I'm glad that I was able to finally set the record without a doubt."

Dotson thought that he had broken Muisch's record when he clocked a 1:50.38 at the Masters Meet on May 28 at Cerritos College. However, after discrepancies with the conversion of the old mark, it was decided that Dotson and Muisch would share the record.

"Now there's no doubt," Marca said. "He has the record to himself."

Dotson, who at one time during the season owned the second-best 800 time in the nation, also had success in the CIF Southern Section Division I finals. Battling strong winds, he ran to a first-pace finish in 1:50.42.

"He executed our strategy to a 'T' and ran what he's capable of doing," Marca said. "He didn't let the wind bother him or anything else, he just went out and took care of business and did an awesome job."

Dotson was the first athlete from Burbank to win a CIF championship in track and field in 21 years. Standout Todd Lewis captured a title in the boys' Division 3A 1,600 in 1989 with a 4:11.44 effort.

The Burbank runner also enjoyed success prior to the beginning of the track and field season. In February, he won a state championship at the Run for the Dream Indoor Track and Field Invitational at the Save Mart Center in Fresno

With his senior season behind him, Dotson said he is spending his summer staying in shape and getting ready for collegiate competition.

"I'm already looking at some of the USCB school records, and I'm hoping I'll maybe have a chance to break some of those down the line," said Dotson, who will run track and cross-country at Santa Barbara. "That will be a good goal for me. I just want to keep improving."

With his track record of success, don't count Dotson out from ultimately reaching that goal.

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