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JSerra's Burkhardt coasts at Laguna Hills Invitational
LAGUNA HILLS – A lot of runners use the first weeks of the cross country season to work on certain aspects of their race-day performance.
Andrew Burkhardt is not one of those people. The JSerra senior is only concerned with one thing: Crossing the finish line first.
Burkhardt lit up the 3-mile course at Laguna Hills High, winning the Division 3 senior race in a time of 15 minutes, 11 seconds at the 32nd annual Laguna Hills Invitational.
“I’m not really afraid to race anybody,” he said. “I kind of feel like I can hang with the best guys in the state or the country. I’m not afraid to go out fast and keep that pace. I hate losing.”
Races at the Laguna Hills Invite are carried out by division and grade level. Burkhardt won by 17 seconds over Bishop Amat’s Robbie Santoyo.
The Lions’’ace has posted the top county time in each of his first two appearances this year. He opened his 2015 campaign with a fourth-place showing at the Cool Breeze Invite in Chino.
JSerra added an impressive showing in the girls freshmen race, as Nadia Tabrizi (18:48) and Isabella Abusaid produced top-three finishes. Tabrizi beat the field by 65 seconds in a dominating display of racing tactics.
“She has an instinct for tactics, knowing when to press the pace, and knowing when to break away in the surge,” Lions coach Marty Dugard said. “She’s relentless. I’ve seen it in practice, but to see it on a race course as a coach is thrilling.”
Dana Hills’ girls placed five in the top eight in the Division 1 freshmen race. Dana Hills’ Jaden Haskins and San Juan Hills’ Katie Hansen joined Tabrizi as freshmen divisional champions.
Capistrano Valley’s Haley Herberg (18:28), Alyssa Bautista (18:35), and Alexis Stevens were the first three to finish the Division 2 sophomore competition. Bautista showed no ill effects from last year’s hip injury, coming in just behind the Cougars’ No. 2 in Herberg.
“We’re really excited to see what we can do,” Herberg said. “We have some really awesome sophomores.”
Cougars senior Ashley Licata posted a county-best mark of 18:13 in winning Division 1.
Esperanza junior Shannon Mac Kellar (18:15) won the Division 3 race. Fellow Aztec Sapna Dholakia placed third.
Woodbridge junior Elizabeth Dahl (19:06) won the Division 2 race, with teammates Lora Gonzalez and Meagan Oefelein finishing in the top four.
Top boys performances included Tesoro’s Ryan Bush and Christian Wehrli each crossing the finish line in 16:23 as the top two runners in the Division 2 sophomore race.
Santa Ana junior Jorge Suarez won the Division 1 race in 15:43. Huntington Beach’s Lars Mitchel and JSerra’s Peter Herold each scored victories in freshmen races.