Burbank runs to success on track

........................................................................................................................................................................................

At the end of the 2014 high school track and field season, Valencia High sprinter Joshua Burbank stood alone as a state champion. But the junior in high school said it took a group effort to set him up for that individual success.

“I grew up with my family, they all helped raise me,” he said proudly.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: JOSHUA BURBANK of Valencia High School, front, was the state champ in Class 4A in the 100-meter dash and runner-up in the 200-meter dash and district champion in both events as well.

Burbank said his mom, Diana Lucero, had him while still in high school. Growing up in a single-parent household was made bearable because of his extended family.

“My mom had me at a young age, she was 17 and in high school and it was tough,” he said. “But the family was there, helping. My aunties helped take care of me, my grandparents took care of me. So it was a group effort.”

Burbank got attention as a sophomore last season as part of Valencia High’s potent sprint relay sqauds, grabbing both silver and gold at last season’s Class 4A State Championship Track Meet.

This season, Burbank made it clear from the very first track meet of the season that he was going to be a force to reckon with, qualifying for the 2014 State Track Meet in his first race.

“I didn’t expect it,” he said of that early qualification. “But I felt good, very explosive. I took my preseason very seriously this year and put in all the work I needed to. So I felt prepared when I came into this season.”

What changed was Burbank’s approach to the craft of racing.

“I just took it seriously,” he said. “In past years, the pre-season was just a stepping stone, I thought ‘I’ll just tip-toe back into the season.’ This season I went really hard and started about two weeks after football season ended and just ground it out. ”

Another help was the chip the young sprinter felt on his shoulder going into the track season.

“Personally, I felt we were overlooked as individuals, and with this year we’ve really made a big impact on people and shown we’re here and we’re not just a relay team,” he said. “We can all put out the effort and same caliber of performance in individual competition.

“I definitely used that idea, ‘I’m going to be overlooked,’ as a way to grind and show people what I can do, he said.”

That dedication proved to be key as Burbank won the state title in the 100-meter dash and took second in the 200-meter dash as well as claiming silver and gold again with the VHS relay teams. Burbank also claimed the district titles in the 100 and 200 as well as wins in both events at the Marilyn Sepulveda Invitational at mid-season, beating out a field made up mostly of sprinters from bigger schools.

Burbank said a humbling experience at an Alamogordo meet last season helped him set his priorities this season, giving him the drive not to settle even after finding success.

“Even at the Marilyn Sepulveda meet, I thought ‘That’s a good job but I have more to work for,’” he said. “What’s next, it was like ‘Good job, but I have to keep grinding.’”

And of course, there’s the influence of his mom.

“My mother made me who I am today,” he said. “She told me ‘Don’t let nobody tell you that you can’t do something.’ She’s the one who taught me to keep at it, keep grinding and dream big.”

These days those big dreams include the National Football League and the Olympics. Burbank said he’s already receiving interest from schools like Texas Tech, New Mexico State and Montana State. He said he’s primarily looking at schools outside New Mexico.

“I want to be independent and be my own man but I want to be close enough to home so that when I miss my family, when I miss green chile, I can come home,” he said with a laugh.

He also said he wants to honor himself and his family by continuing to work hard on his academics and his athletics.

“This isn’t just for me,” he said. “This is for my family. I feel like I race for them and all the little guys, the little schools. My dream is to go big, go to the NFL and the Olympics and show that I came from a little school, but show kids they can do that too.”