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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

2012 NCS Division II pre-season rankings (Girls added)

The revolving door that is Division II continues this year as schools exit (San Ramon Valley and Pinole Valley) and schools enter (Dublin and Livermore).  That follows the addition of College Park, Dougherty Valley and Maria Carrillo last season.  This will lead to new individual champions for both boys and girls as well as a new boys' team champion.  We might have a repeat team champion in the girls with Maria Carrillo back to defend their crown (more on that later).

The race for the boys' team championship should be between last year's 2nd and 3rd place finishers, Maria Carrillo and Alameda.  MC won NCS titles in 2005 (Division II) and in 2006 (Division III).  10 points separated MC and Alameda last year at the NCS meet and both teams return most of their rosters from last year.  At this point, MC appears to be favorite based on the depth of their team.  From last year's section team, they return their lead runner, senior Harrison Luft (4:40.20/9:56.71), Colin Metcalfe (4:53.30/10:19.54), Colin Bartlett (4:45.76) and Dante Hay (1:56.05) and Steve Purugganan (2:05.55/4:43.56).  They also have Nick Jensen (4:40.10/10:15.68), Ryan Anderson (4:40.83) and Zack West (4:43.56) which will make them extremely deep and competitive past their 7th runner.

Alameda will be a formidable opponent for MC as they return their top six runners from last year's NCS section meet.  Senior Duc Nguyen (4:37.06/9:42.55) was one of 11 runners that ran sub 16:00 on the Hayward HS course last year with his 6th place finish in 15:47.  Stephen Carlson (2:00.01/4:23.65/9:47.26) was Alameda's 3rd runner at NCS but based on his track results should give Alameda another strong runner who can run in the lead pack at the section meet.  Cameron Tu (4:35.31) was Alameda's 2nd runner last year as he ran an impressive 16:01 as a sophomore.  The rest of their section team included Deepak Sharma (10:35.31), Michael Moler (16:56) and Andrew Liu (4:57.10).

The next tier of teams vying for a section championship or at the very least a state meet berth (top 3) will include College Park (a consistent section contender with 6 NCS titles since 2001), Dougherty Valley and Ukiah.  College Park is an intriguing team considering they finished a respectable 5th last year with 2 sophomores and a freshman making up their top 3.  Now junior, Parker Marson (2:05.55/4:30.63), finished 12th last year at the section meet running 16:00.  DV finished 4th last year and have 6 of their top 7 runners returning this year.  They will be led by senior Michael Sisario (4:36.35) who ran 16:09 last year at the section meet.  Ukiah has the fastest returning runner in this division in senior Paul Holden (9:48.39) and return their entire lineup from last year's section meet.

The favorite for the individual title will be the just mentioned Paul Holden.  He finished 33rd as a freshman, 2nd as a sophomore and 2nd once again as a junior.  With the now graduated 2 time champion Parker Deuel off to the University of Alabama, Holden inherits the favorite role.  He ran 15:20 last year which is the 8th fastest time on the Hayward course in NCS history.  His closest challenger should be Lorenzo Galindo of Arroyo HS who finished 3rd last year with a time of 15:41.  The next group of challengers could all have an impact on who wins the team title.  That includes Alameda's Duc Nguyen, Cameron Tu and Stephen Carlson and Maria Carrillo's Harrison Luft and Colin Metcalfe.  Parker Marson and Christian Friday of Montgomery both ran in the low 16s on the Hayward course as sophomores so they should be contenders as well.

The girls team race has a clear favorite in 2011 champion, Maria Carrillo.  They have won 5 section titles since 2004 and seem to be headed for another one with the return of their top 3 runners from last year's team.  Lauren Kraus (5:12.08/11:05.45) should lead the way for MC after dealing with an injury during her junior XC season that still had her finish 4th at the NCS meet right behind teammate Andrea Natoli (5:18.24/11:16.63).  Brynna Thigpen (2:24.45/5:17.64) has been a consistent scorer for MC since her freshman season and gives the Pumas 3 of the fastest 5 runners returning this season in Division II.  A strong freshman class should bolster the MC lineup to help them bring back home another section plaque.

With last year's 2nd place team, San Ramon Valley, moving up to Division I, the race for the remaining state meet berths should include another section power, College Park HS.  Since 1999, CP has amassed 7 section titles (1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009).  They finished a very competitive 3rd last year (1 point behind SRV) and return 6 of those runners including their #1 runner Kendall Stuscavage (59.92/2:20.21/5:08.75).  Their chase pack (Parissa Broomand, Victoria Miguel, Emma Arlen, Caitlin Schillings and Mariana Perez) will need to close the gap a bit behind Stuscavage but 2nd place seems fairly secure at this point.

The favorite for the last state meet qualifying spot goes to Casa Grande HS with a slight edge.  They have a former section champion in senior Ashley Moffett (5:09.72/11:38.51) and everybody is back from last year's section team which finished in 6th place.  Clayton Valley will have big shoes to fill without recently graduated Alexandra Tate and just missed going to the state meet last year but could field a lineup that could contend once again.    Alameda should be in the mix as well after a 5th place finish here last year as well as a successful track season.  Livermore might be a player here as well with a 5th place finish last year in Division I and the return of 5 of those runners including 2 low 19:00 performers on the Hayward course (Alexandra Hernandez and Dana Anex).

Ashley Moffett won the section Division II title in her first cross country season as a sophomore in 2010.  She finished 2nd here last year behind freshman phenom Christine Bayliss and will be the fastest returning runner this year.  Her main competition will come from Maria Carrillo teammates Lauren Kraus and Andrea Natoli as well as College Park senior Kendall Stuscavage.  What is not known yet is what team will field the next freshman to make an impact on both this race and potentially in the team battle.

Division II Boys (Top 3 teams advance to state)

1)  Maria Carrillo-Depth makes them the favorite at this point.
2)  Alameda-Winning a section championship is next step for talented group.
3) College Park-State meet contenders.  Can they challenge top 2 teams?
4)  Dougherty Valley-This team competes in tough DFAL and will be battle tested.
5) Ukiah-Everybody is back with Paul Holden leading the charge.
On the bubble:  AmericanArroyoCasa Grande, Clayton Valley
Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2011 NCS meet time:
Paul Holden (2) Ukiah 15:20
Duc Nguyen (6) Alameda 15:47
Harrison Luft (8) Maria Carrillo 15:49
Parker Marson (10) College Park 16:00
Cameron Tu (11) Alameda 16:01

Division II Girls (Top 3 teams advance to state)

1)  Maria Carrillo-One of the top teams regardless of division.
2)  College Park-Always a threat to challenge for a team title.
3) Casa Grande-Ashley Moffett and company will have their hands full to hold this spot.
4) Clayton Valley-4th last year.  Freshman help on the way?5) Alameda-Aiming at joining the boys at the state meet.
On the bubble: Dougherty Valley, Livermore

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2011 NCS meet time:
Ashley Moffet (2) Casa Grande 18:20
Andrea Natoli (3) Maria Carrillo 18:37
Lauren Kraus (4) Maria Carrillo 18:37
Kendall Stuscavage (5) College Park 18:39
Brynna Thigpen (8) Maria Carrillo 18:57

Feel free to comment on the above rankings.  Lots of new teams now compete in this division. Did I miss anybody? Any surprises? Freshmen studs and/or studettes?

If your team website has been updated or you have a new link, send it my way ( as well and I will update the link.


Anonymous said...

Lorenzo Galindo was a senior.

Albert Caruana said...

Thanks for the correction. He was listed as a junior in last year's NCS results. I will make the necessary changes.

Greg Fogg said...

For Maria Carrillo, Steve Purugganan was a Senior last year

Anonymous said...

Don't count out Nolan Peterson as an individual contender. He a great competitor!

Albert Caruana said...

Thanks Greg. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

Nolan Petersen got 7th two years ago as a sophomore. I don't know what happened last year, but I'd keep an eye out for him this year.

Andrew said...

Alameda girls: didn't have their usual #2 (now-senior Kelly Hosokawa) finish the race at NCS for some reason. She's a 2:25/5:31/11:58 runner and ran as their #2 all last season. Alameda's gonna be right there with CP and Casa.

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