Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 NCS Division III Pre-Season Rankings

Before I start with the NCS Division III pre-season rankings, I would like to thank all the coaches and athletes out there who are so forthright with pertinent information for this coming season.

Here is a link to all the NCS divisions for 2009:
http://cifncs.org/sports/cross_country/files/09CCdiv9-12.pdf

The 2008 season was a banner year for this division as the top two boys teams (Campolindo and Petaluma) waged an exciting battle throughout the season that ended with both teams on the podium stand at the state meet. Campolindo finished in 2nd place behind the Barstow juggernaut scoring 101 points trailed closely by Petaluma in 3rd place with 109 points. The week before, Campo narrowly edged Petaluma by 5 points (37 to 42) to win the '08 NCS Division III title in the fastest team time (1:17:55) in NCS history. There is no question that both teams drove each other to new heights as Petaluma ran the 2nd fastest team time ever on the Hayward course with a 1:18:02.

This year's prognostications will be a bit more difficult as most of the top teams lose a lot of their main players due to graduation and other reasons. With that in mind, the team that appears to be returning the most firepower has to be Las Lomas. While they do lose their #1 from last year (Michael Jamieson), LL returns their #2 (Carl Gracely), #3 (Michael Gemar), #4 (KC Green) and #6 (Neal Williams). LL has also improved or maintained their place in NCS the past 4 years with the following finishes: 2005 in Division II-6th place, 2006 in Division III, 4th place, 2007 in Division III-3rd place and 2008 in Division III-3rd place. Where will they finish in 2009?

Behind Las Lomas, the next team appears to be Petaluma which returns one of the fastest runners in the section. That would be Hugh Dowdy who finished 5th at the NCS meet and alternated as the 2nd/3rd man on the team throughout the year. They also will have an improved Forrest Shaffer who was their 5th runner last year in their epic duel with Campo at the NCS MOC. Another runner to watch for Petaluma this coming season is freshman Kevin Poteracke who's already made a name for himself as a member of the Santa Rosa Express Club.

The next group of teams all have some solid runners returning and questions marks. Acalanes
graduated two key runners but returns #1 runner Toshi Kellogg, Brett Cantrell and two 9th graders who gained valuable experience last year, Tyler Sorensen and Tyler Troxel. Trivia question time. W other track event does Tyler Sorensen compete in nationally?

Campolindo, the two-time defending champions, return one experienced runner from last year's NCS team, Paul Jackson (16:04). Douglas Chudler who ran 9:54.9 on the track seems to be the leader of this year's team based on what he did on the track. They have a solid group of young runners ready to step in but how quicly they gel as a state contending team will be determined during the summer and season.

The wildcard team, as in past seasons, will be Eureka. It's tough to find any information on this team except for the few times that they travel to some of the bigger invitationals like Stanford. Looking at the results from last year's NCS meet, Eureka will have their top 5 runners returning who all run under 17:10. Based on what they have done in the past (including a state championship in 1999), Eureka should not be overlooked.

Another team to watch during the season will be Miramonte, which will be led by Peter Buscheck who ran 16:02 at Hayward last year and ran 9:42 on the track. They will also have freshman find Jamie Fehrnstrom, 800m. state meet qualifier Nick Vedovi (1:55.77) and football player turned cross country runner, Christian Britto. While they proved themselves on the track last season, it remains to be seen if they can translate that to the xc course.

The road to the individual title will go through Novato as Erik Olson is the overwhelming favorite to win his first NCS title. Erik finished 33rd as a 9th grader, 5th as a 10th grader and 3rd as an 11th grader. Based on the fact that he is the fastest returner, Erik would have been the favorite this year but what really elevated his status was his track and field season when he made running sub 9 minute 3200m. a common occurance. His closest pursuer and the only other runner that finished in the top 10 last year will be Hugh Dowdy of Petulama (4:29.09 and 9:40.39).

The early favorite to win the girls' team race will be Campolindo HS. While they lose a key contributor in Lisa Rosenthal, Campo returns everybody else. Carrie Verdon finished an impressive 3rd last year as a 9th grader and followed that up with sub 5:10 and 11:10 (5:09.4/ 11:01.7) clockings on the track. Not far behind her will be junior Grace Orders who was right with her on the track with 5:10.5 and 11:03.4. They will be backed by solid Sara Mostatabi (5:23.2/11:27.4) who finished in 13th place at last year's NCS meet.

Ranking girls teams in the summer is a shaky proposition as freshmen girls can contribute to teams right away. I am aware of a couple of freshman girls that will help some teams, but for the most part, I will learn about the impact runners along with everybody else, after the first few races.

The next team appears to be Bishop O'Dowd who will lose stud Damajeria Dubose but return runners 2 through 6. They have a long history of success whether they have been in Division III or IV so for now I will post them in the 2nd slot. The next two teams, Las Lomas and Redwood, return the whole arsenal of weapons as runners 1 through 7 are all back. Interestingly enough, Redwood had all seven runners return for the 2007 season and 6 for the 2008 season. Las Lomas qualified for the state meet last year so they have to be considered as well.

Now comes the wild card teams who could finish anywhere from 2nd to 8th place. That list includes the defending champions, Maria Carrillo, who lose the majority of their NCS championship and 3rd place state meet podium team but return their top two runners, the Curtin twins (Lauren and Cara). Petaluma also returns their top two runners, Isabel Andrade and Francesca Honey who both finished in the top 5 with Andrade winning and Honey in 5th. The last of the wild card teams might be a surprise to most as Acalanes didn't even field one competitor at last year's NCS meet. However, they return Emily Shearer and Katie Berge and appear to be adding a couple of talented freshmen.

As is usually the case, the favorite to win the individual title will be the returning champion, Andrade of Petaluma. She has proven to be an incredibly tough racer who has had success in cross country and track and field. This past season in track, Andrade qualified for the California state meet by finishing 5th in the 1600 but with a time (4:56.29) that made the at large mark. Her competition will be an array of returners from last year's race that includes Carrie Verdon and Grace Orders of Campolindo, Lauren and Cara Curtin of Maria Carrillo and Francesca Honey of Petaluma.

Division III Boys (Top 4 Advance to state)
1) Las Lomas-Lose leader but return everybody else.
2) Petaluma-How quickly can they reload post Lockert era?
3) Campolindo-Douglas Chudler will lead the way.
4) Acalanes-Have the ability to break into top 3.
5) Eureka-Mystery team from up north.
On the bubble: Miramonte, Albany, Northgate

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2008 NCS meet time:
Erik Olson (3) Novato 15:12
Hugh Dowdy (5) Petaluma 15:34
Toshi Kellogg (12) Acalanes 15:49
Carl Gracely (13) Las Lomas 15:52
Michael Gemar (15) Las Lomas 15:53

Division III Girls (Top 4 Advance to state)
1) Campolindo-Great group up front but need to add depth.
2) Bishop O’Dowd-History of success when it counts.
3) Acalanes-Freshman help is on the way.
4) Las Lomas-Veteran group looking to improve from last year's finish.
5) Redwood-Looking to qualify to 4th straight state meet.
One the bubble: Maria Carrillo, Petaluma, Miramonte

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2008 NCS meet time:
Isabel Andrade (1) Petaluma 17:47
Carrie Verdon (3) Campolindo 18:03
Lauren Curtin (4) Maria Carrillo 18:14
Francesca Honey (5) Petaluma 18:22
Cara Curtin (6) Maria Carrillo 18:39

Please feel free to comment on above rankings. Any additions or corrections are welcome.

3 comments:

Erik said...

Doesn't Tyler Sorensen also race walk? I think I got the trivia question right, sweet!!

Albert Caruana said...

Correct you are Erik.

Sterling Lockert said...

I HAVE NO WISDOM TEETH. :) thought it might be relevant. and i'm bored sitting on my couch in pain. :) yay.