Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me begin by saying thank you to Hank Lawson for all the hard work he puts in to give us all the stats we could ever need over there at www.lynbrooksports.com. Walt VanZant’s team comparisons are pure gold to a stat geek like me trying to pass the summer before the start of the season. In all the discussions of great coaches and programs you cannot leave out those who have contributed in providing us with the history we seek to surpass!
Now onto the “‘inconsistent’ ranking/preview/unfair listing of things/puff piece that people can randomly crap on even though it means nothing in the end" thing. Or whatever you want to call it…
Leading the way in DI and the entire CCS is once again Bellarmine High School in San Jose. The Bells are one of those annoying teams that seem to have it figured out year after year… 15 CCS titles (8 consecutive from 1993-2000) and they are still hungry for more! The defending champions have not finished lower than 2nd in the last 5 years and time and again field a squad that will compete for a CCS title; 2nd place feels like a down year. How can it not feel that way when you go to meets with 2-3 buses packed with 75 boys (and still leave people at home)? To top it off their JV team very well could be in the top 10 over-all list of teams in CCS!
To gain an appreciation of the dominance of this team read the Bellarmine history from Hank's site before going any further! (Go ahead… CLICK HERE). After you scroll down a ways you will see that as of April, 2010 it took 15:45 just to break into their top 100 list for Crystal Springs. Probably even harder now!
In 2010, Bellarmine was 10th across all divisions at the state championship meet. I asked Coach McCrystle how his team is looking for this year and despite being the historical machine, his humility is obviously one of the things that keeps his team grounded and hungry for more. “I think we have a chance to be pretty good this year,” he said. He was also quick to point out that some good DI schools are coming up in the south part of the section like Hollister, Alisal and Salinas. He was also more than eager to point out that Menlo Atherton is going to be a huge threat this year and looks really good.
Bellarmine returns three boys who ran sub 16:00 last year at the Crystal Springs course, more than any other team in the section. Jack Bordoni returns as the top runner for the Bells and had a solid spring running 4:25 for the 1600 meters. He will be joined by Adrian Hinojosa (9:39 for 3200 meters this spring) and Esteban Valencia (4:32, 9:36) to make up the powerful 1-2-3 combo. Jose Sandoval ran 16:15 last year at Crystal (as well as 4:39 & 10:28 this spring) and will be joined by Charles Deanda (4:48, 9:44) to round out the top 5. Simply put, Bellarmine is going to be tough to beat with the depth they have and a JV team (that is better than most Varsity teams) made of runners battling to get in the top 7. The Bellarmine machine rolls on.
The great thing about cross country is there is never a guaranteed win, never an easy race for a title. There is always a team trying to upset the favorite; chasing the ones with the target on their back. If Bellarmine has the target, Menlo-Atherton are the hunters. Led by Jack Beckwith (9:44 for 3200 meters last spring) and Mike Hester (4:22 for 1600), who are both hovering at the 16-minute mark for the Crystal Springs course, M-A shows potential to be a title threat. They have a strong top 5 who were all near 17 minutes or under last season including George Baier (10:19) and John Lovegren (10:04). They will also add depth with Jordan Scandlyn who ran 4:33 for 1600 last spring.
Hollister is a big school with solid community support. With a solid core of varsity runners returning, they have a real shot at a state meet spot. Omar Vasquez leads the team with a 16:16 season best but the strength of this team is their depth. Said Hernandez ran 16:40 at Toro last year and followed that up with a 9:52 for 3200 in the spring. Ricardo Esqueda also had a solid showing at Toro last year posting 16:43 and ran 10:03 for 3200. Another top runner for the Haybalers is Steven Valarde (16:41 at CS last season) and David Kret, who had a breakthrough spring running 4:36 for 1600 meters in the spring.
I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Salinas as my #4 pick. Not to slight Monta Vista or Carlmont, those two are right in the mix for a top 5 spot, but the southern part of the section has quietly been having a resurgence as of late. The top five Salinas runners hit between 9:43 and 10:17 for 3200 meters last spring and Coach Chagnon knows how to get his boys ready for the big show. They tend to get over looked because they don’t come to Crystal Springs when CCS is not held there but following last year’s 5th place finish and a very solid spring, I’m penciling them in as my dark horse pick of 2011.
To round out the top 5 you have Monta Vista, Carlmont and Alisal all fighting for a top 5 spot. The depth of DI is getting better every year and this year you have 7-8 quality teams all with hopes for a top 2 finish and trip to state. Alisal is led by Francisco Salvador and Robert Valencia who both were very solid this spring. They have a solid core of 6-7 runners and could bring the heat. Kevin Bishop had a spectacular spring that included a CCS title and a time of 8:59 for 3200 meters. Takuto Doshiro and Michael Lu also had good runs in the 1600 meters this spring both running in the 4:30’s. Carlmont was last year’s runner-up and lost their top 2 runners to graduation but return 3-5. Ryan Dimick had a breakthrough spring running 9:51 for 3200 meters and could bridge the gap of the top 5 runners. So with three teams so close it really is a “you pick ‘em.” At this point it is anyone’s game to win or lose.
The race for the individual DI title will likely be the best of the day as defending champion Miguel Vasquez of Andrew Hill will defend his title against Yohaness Estifanos (Milpitas) and Kevin Bishop (Monta Vista). Throw in Jack Bordoni and Adrian Hinojosa of Bellarmine and you have one heck of a race!
DIV. 2 BOYS: Team Pre-Season Rankings
Others Teams of Note: Monta Vista, Carlmont
DIV. I BOYS: Top Returning Individuals
(From the 2010 CCS Championship)
1. Miguel Vasquez, Andrew Hill
2. Yohaness Estifanos, Milpitas
3. Jack Bordoni, Bellarmine
4. Kevin Bishop, Monta Vista
5. Adrian Hinojosa, Bellarmine
One Final Note:
Now that this is wrapped up and has taken us through most of the dog days of summer I encourage you all to prove the “rankings” wrong…or right, wherever you may lie in the pointless puff piece. Run every day, sometimes twice if you have to. Run faster, run further, and discover how far you can really push yourself! Most of all remember: the rankings are always wrong and flawed…and that is why we run the race!