Looking back at the past few seasons on the boys side, Urban School boys edged out St. Joseph Notre Dame 64 to 65 to win their first NCS cross country section title in 2010. SJND then ran off 4 consecutive section titles as well as 4 state podium finishes which included 2 state titles in 2012 and 2013. Marin Academy, perhaps in the shadows of SJND, had a nice run of their own during the past few seasons that included last year's section team title and two 2nd place finishes at the state meet in 2013 and 2015.
This coming season, the SJND boys will be the favorites once again to win the team title. They return the best runner in this division, Cooper Teare (more on him later), as well as 6 of their 7 competitors from last year's section meet. The next best team appears to be Lick-Wilmerding. Sean Laidlaw (4:44.43/9:51.43) will be their #1 runner after competing in his first Track and Field season. The next group of teams all finished in the top 7 last season but will need to replace some talented seniors from the 2016 class. University, Athenian and Sonoma Academy will all be in the mix for a top 5 finish and each team will return their #1 runner. University finished in 5th place at last year's section meet but rebounded with an 8th place finish at state. They will be strong up front with Spencer Small (1:57.06/4:26.16) and CJ Dowd (1:59.60/4:31.90). SA returns 6 out of 7 and coach Danny Aldridge has had a lot of success coaching at Maria Carrillo and Sonoma Academy. College Prep lost their #1 runner Alex Glavin but will still have a strong #1 in Ethan Ashby (9:35.36). Marin Academy have lost some very talented runners over the past few seasons. They lose their top 3 runners from last year's team but based on their success the past few seasons should not be counted out.
Individually, Cooper Teare will be the overwhelming favorite to repeat as section champion. He ran 14:46.4, which is the 2nd fastest time on the Hayward HS course for a Division V athlete trailing only the 14:44 run by Trevor Reinhart (Marin Academy) in 2013. The course will be slightly different this year so Teare should establish the course record on the "new" course. Looking back at his junior season, Teare won the CA state meet in an epic finish over Jack Van Scoter of Flintridge Prep 15:07.313 to 15:07.316. He also won the state 3200m title by an even closer margin over Cole Spencer of Great Oak 8:51.845 to 8:51.847. Brian Schulz El Molino finished in 2nd place at last year's Division IV race and will be a section and state contender in this division in 2016. Eli Horwitz (1:57.83/4:20.63) Stuart Hall and Dawson Reckers (2:04.98/4:24.02) Athenian finished in 4th and 5th place respectively. Other contenders include Sean Laidlaw L-W, Ethan Ashby CPS, CJ Dowd UHS and Kheva Mann SA.
Division V Boys (Top 5 Advance to State)
1) St. Joseph ND-Will be motivated to win 5th section title in the past 6 seasons.
2) Lick-Wilmerding-Looking to win first male section title since winning Division III in 1989.
3) University-The most successful team in this division aiming to return back on top.
4) Sonoma Academy-Return 6 out of top 7 from last year's section meet.
5) College Prep-They will be in the mix with solid #1 and typical depth.
6) Athenian-Will need some freshman help to contend once again for a Fresno trip.
7) Marin Academy-On the outside looking in at this point but may surprise in November.
On the bubble: Roseland University Prep, Stuart Hall, Urban
Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2015 NCS meet time:
Cooper Teare (1) St. Joseph ND 14:46.4
Brian Schulz (2 in Division IV) 15:28.3
Eli Horwitz (4) Stuart Hall 15:38.0
Dawson Reckers (5) Athenian 15:41.3
Sean Laidlaw (7) Lick-Wilmerding 16:01.0
The girls pre-season rankings will be posted next. Comments? Do you know of impact freshmen that will attend at any of the above schools? Feel free to chime in the section below.