Ready or not, 2013 has arrived and we are still here (Hello Mayans!). Hopefully it will be a lucky year for everybody when it comes to running and hurdling fast and jumping and throwing far. First, we are going to take a peak at the top NorCal distance runners for the upcoming Track and Field season. Based on this past Cross Country season, there will be plenty of intrigue when it comes to our local athletes competing against the best runners in the state.
The Defending Champion: There are 6 opportunities to win a state title as a distance runner (boys and girls sides) and last year, junior Nikki Hiltz of Aptos HS took the 1600m. state crown for the lone NorCal victory. She qualified for the state meet as a freshman by finishing in 2nd place at the CCS meet but didn't run at the state meet. She doubled up (800 and 1600) at CCS as a sophomore and won both races. She finished in 3rd place at the state meet as a sophomore in the 1600m. Last year, Hiltz turned the CCS 1600/800 double once again in even more impressive fashion. She defeated defending champion Cami Chapus at the state final to win her first state championship in 4:42.45. With her impressive junior Cross Country and Track and Field seasons, Nikki was able to secure a scholarship to the University of Oregon in the fall.
The Freshmen Girls: Every new school year brings a new crop of freshmen and this year includes the best potential group of freshmen girls in Northern California history. Now that is a quite a statement and I might not be enough of an authority to make it but if this isn't the best class of girls, it's up there. The best of them all during Cross Country was Maggie Bell of Granite Bay HS (State Division 2 champion). Unfortunately she will not be racing on the track this spring so next in line is a group of girls that will hold their own just the same. If the times next to the athletes seem too good to be true, then they are more than likely 1500m. or 3000m. times. Chloe Pigg (2:24.70/5:00.38) led Arcata HS to a 2nd place finish at the CA state XC meet in Division IV. Her dad Mike was a world class Triathlete and has helped coach Chloe before and during her developing high school career. Fiona O'Keeffe (2:25.90/5:17.10) of Davis HS finished in 6th place at the CA state meet in the Division 1 race. Lauren Jacob (4:49.99/10:32.12) of Los Altos HS had the 3rd fastest time overall at the CCS meet in Toro Park trailing only Vanessa Fraser and Danielle Katz. The rest of the freshmen girls in no particular order include Annaka Green (2:18.01/4:44.27/10:46.93) of Amador Valley HS, Priscilla Lee (58.46/2:14.27/4:50.58) of Evergreen Valley HS, Megan McCandless (10:50.29) of Granada HS and Brooke Starn (4:45.28/10:23.75) of Monte Vista HS. Chloe Hansel of Las Lomas HS and Kendall Derry of Bella Vista HS led their respective schools during the Cross Country season to top 10 state rankings.
The Injured: As with any sport, injuries are an unfortunate part of the equation. The already mentioned Nikki Hiltz missed the entire Cross Country season due to a right foot stress fracture. There is a chance she could be back racing this coming Track and Field season but that has not been confirmed yet. Karlie Garcia of Oakmont HS missed the majority of her senior Cross Country season following a 5th place at the Foot Locker national meet as a junior. Anna Maxwell of San Lorenzo Valley HS dealt with illness at the end of the recently completed Cross Country season. She was spectacular during Track and the majority of her junior XC season. Teammate Cody Johnson, last year's CCS 800m. champion and 5th place finisher at state, was shut down during XC due to to a hamstring injury. Blair Hurlock of De La Salle HS led the way for the Spartans but also had his season ended early with a lower leg injury. Annaka Green's XC season never got off the ground due to a stress fracture.
The Impact Players: In no particular order. There are plenty of runners that could have an impact at their own section as well as the state meet. Yohaness Estifanos (4:13.81/9:08.06) of Milpitas HS had one of the best XC seasons in CCS history. John Lawson (4:18.55/9:12.23) of Sir Francis Drake HS finished 9th at the Footlocker national meet. Julia Maxwell (5:00.87/10:27.99) of Branson School won the state XC meet in Division V for the 2nd year in a row, qualified to the Footlocker national meet and last year finished in 4th place in the 3200m. at the CA state meet. Eugene Hamilton III (1:52.84) of Bishop O'Dowd finished a close second at last year's NCS MOC and got valuable state meet experience. Madison Ricks (2:09.52) of California HS was NCS champion last year and this past fall ran XC for the first time which bodes well for her this coming TF season. Nijae Jones (2:10.39) of San Leandro HS gave Ricks all she can handle at NCS and then finished one spot ahead of Ricks at the state meet with a 6th place finish. Cody Johnson (1:52.44) won CCS last year in dominating fashion and is the 2nd fastest senior returning in the 800m. in California. Anna Maxwell (2:10.87/4:48.11/10:21.04) is a triple threat in all the distance races. Nikki Hiltz is the defending state champion in the 1600 and will be a major threat to repeat if she returns from injury. Kylie Goo (2:10.52) of Westmoor HS gave Hiltz all she can handle at CCS in the 800m. and qualified to the state final with her PR. Faith Makau (4:59.08) of Enochs HS was SJS champion and one of the last qualifiers to the state 1600m. race with her sub 5 minute effort. Vanessa Fraser (4:54.32/10:28.63) of Scotts Valley HS is usually out shined by her league meets Maxwell (Anna) and Hiltz but she has more than held her own with multiple state championships in Cross Country and a 7th place finish in the 3200m. at last year's state meet. Madeleine Ankhelyi (4:55.96/10:34.72) of Vista del Lago HS finished in 3rd place at the CA state XC meet in Division III and was a top 10 finisher at last year's 3200m. at state. Jena Pianin (4:59.72/10:40.21) of Amador Valley HS finished just behind Ankhelyi at the CA state TF meet and was 3rd place this past XC season in the Division I race behind the 2 fastest runners in the entire meet. Richard Ho (9:13.41) of Leland HS chased Estifanos to one of the fastest times on the Crystal Springs course this past XC season and finished in 7th place at the CA state XC meet. Aidan Goltra (9:32.91) of Campolindo HS had to sit out the first month of XC season following his transfer but finished the season in grand fashion taking the Division III section and state titles. Trent Brendel (4:21.56/9:23.98) of Granite Bay HS was voted SJS XC runner of the year and will be favored to take the 3200m. this season. Danielle Katz (2:13.33/5:05.53/11:06.06) of Los Gatos HS had her best XC season to date and could be a threat in all three distance races in CCS.
The "At-Large" Standards: This year, the North Coast Section lost an automatic state meet berth so now those "At-Large" standards are more in play with only 3 automatic bids. The question is what is the toughest distance standard for the boys and girls. I won't get into comparing the boys marks to the girls but according to the rating charts I have for multiple distances, the marks should be ranked in this order:
Boys ("toughest" to "easiest")
Girls ("toughest" to "easiest")
Feel free to comment on the above article. If you feel I missed anybody noteworthy, add their accomplishments and personal records below.