Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NCS Division IV Pre-Season Rankings

As one Division IV coach stated, "Year in and year out, forecasting this division proves to be quite difficult because of the parity that exists between the perennial top dogs." I agree with that statement wholeheartedly yet here I am trying to make sense of this upcoming season. I am not sure if I can pick a favorite with conviction (especially on the boys side) but I can point out the top teams and individuals.

Over the past 8 years, the most successful team has been St. Mary's Berkeley coached by former Cal All-American and school record holder high jumper, Jeff Rogers. They won NCS titles in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The next best team has been San Rafael coached by Jason Jacobson who has led his teams to two NCS titles in 2010 and 2012 and his 2010 team also won the California state meet. I think both teams will find a way to be competitive this year but at this point other teams appear to be just a step above both teams.

This is a tough one to pick (I said that already right?) but at this point I will go with McKinleyville. This may be a surprise but they return all 6 of their competitors from last year's NCS meet. Their coach, Jason Lewis, has done a nice job rebuilding that program and coaching Division IV defending champion, Morgin Coonfield. They will be led by senior John Milender (4:35.05/10:19.45) who finished in 16th place at last year's NCS meet. San Rafael, after last year's 2nd place finish, will be led by individual favorite, Nassim Kabbara (4:20.56/9:50.80). This deep division offers many other contenders for those elusive four state meet berths. Arcata returns 5 out of 7 and improved nicely during the track and field season. They will be led by Brandon Kelsey (4:35.09/9:39.12) and Kellen O'Neill (4:35.33/9:51.66). Sir Francis Drake could be another dangerous team with 5 out of 7 returning from last year and that doesn't include Brody Barkan (1:59.09 although did run 1:57.88 in previous season) and Nick Harris (2:03.12). Should they decide to run cross country this coming season, coach Bill Taylor will have quite a group to help secure their first section title since 2000. Piner will also return 5 out of their top 7 and will be paced by junior, Eduardo Calderon (16:16 at 2013 NCS MOC). St. Mary's Berkeley only returns 2 out of their 7 from last year's championship team but history has proven that they reload and will be competitive once again.

The race for the individual title will be between the top returner Nassim Kabbara of San Rafael and impressive rising sophomore, El Molino's Brian Schulz who were separated by only 5 seconds at last year's NCS MOC meet. They will also be challenged by Brian Kelsey of Arcata, Eduardo Calderon of Piner, Zach Bibeault (4:37.07) of Terra Linda and Brady Lane (4:32.86/10:12.36) of El Molino.

Top 5 individual runners returning from last year's NCS MOC XC meet:
Nassim Kabbara (2) San Rafael 15:53
Brian Schulz (5) El Molino 15:58
Brandon Kelsey (6) Arcata 16:06
Eduardo Calderon (9) Piner 16:16
Zach Bibeault (10) Terra Linda 16:18

The girls team battle should be an interesting one as the top teams (Arcata, St. Mary's Berkeley and Piedmont) all return the majority of their runners from last season. Arcata, the 3-time defending champion, have also had success at the state meet although last year came away with a disappointing finish for them (8th place) after a 2nd place finish the year before. St. Mary's Berkeley, like their boys counterpart, have been the most consistent team in this division. They finished in 2nd place at NCS and followed that up with another top 10 finish at state (10th place). Piedmont seemed to have an off day at the NCS meet last year but they rebounded nicely at state with an NCS best 4th place team finish.

Arcata will once again be led by junior Chloe Pigg (2:26.56, 5:15.42, 11:15.34). The team will be bolstered by a trio of seniors (Zoe Ziegler, Elise Ford and Sara Davis) who have never finished lower than 1st place at Hayward HS in November. An addition of a strong freshman could make Arcata quite formidable once again. St. Mary's of Berkeley will have a new front runner with the graduation of top talent Spencer Moore. They return 5 of their top 7 from last year and will more than likely be led by senior Chloe Jenkins who ran 2:11.31 PR at the state championship after her section championship. Piedmont doesn't quite have the up front talent of Arcata and St. Mary's Berkeley but through 7, they may be the best team. Sophia Mills (5:10.94) should be their front runner once again and all the girls that competed at the state meet all return. The race for the team title should be quite close while the race for the state meet which will include the top 4 teams. The rest of the contenders will include Sir Francis Drake, Piner, San Rafael and San Marin.

The individual chase could be rather one sided with defending champion Morgin Coonfield (2:20.81, 4:58.33, 10:37.06) of McKinleyville steamrolling the field. She will be chased by Chloe Pigg from local Arcata HS. Pigg won the section title convincingly as a freshman and seems to be rebounding to form as she heads to her junior season. The rest of the contenders will include Chloe Jenkins of St. Mary's Berkeley, Michaela Barros of Fortuna, Sophia Noto of Sir Francis Drake, the Arcata duo of Zoe Ziegler and Elise Ford as well as Sophia Mills of Piedmont.

Top 5 individual runners returning from last year's NCS MOC XC meet:
 Morgin Coonfield (1) McKinleyville 17:33
Chloe Pigg (3) Arcata 18:32
Michaela Barros (4) Fortuna 18:36
Sophia Noto (5) Sir Francis Drake 18:53
Zoe Ziegler (6) Arcata 18:54

Comments are welcome. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on this division.


Anonymous said...

Julia Maxwell not listed on Stanford's CC team? Any idea if she is reshirting or perhaps she is going elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Julia now listed on stanford's roster.

Anonymous said...

Check the facts … Bill Taylor has not coached/trained the Drake varsity boys' x-c team for the last 6 years. It was Rod Berry for 4 years, and now, Robyn Berry these past 2 years.

Albert Caruana said...

I have failed you. A thousand pardons.

Anonymous said...

There is a number of freshmen to be listed on the prepcaltrack site. That they are trying to identify to the school. If not NCS other Norcal site. Emily Perez who runs for CV track club, Cassidy Haskell and Simone Abdur-Rah. Eveyone know what H.S. these future stars will be attending this fall?

BTW still Girls remaining D-4 for NCS.

Anonymous said...

When will girls d4 be posted?

Andrew said...

@ The poster asking about the incoming frosh - Perez I would guess is going to Castro Valley. It is possible she goes to another Hayward/Oakland/Alameda school of course such as Bishop O'Dowd.

Abdur-Rahim I can only assume is former NBA All-Star and UC Berkeley star Shareef's daughter. So while it is possible she goes to Berkeley High, I have not heard anything from/of her and I think I would given her pedigree as a runner and athlete. I think it is more likely she goes to a Sacramento-area school as I think Shareef lives up there.

Haskell runs for Diablo Valley TC, so Miramonte, Acalanes, Carondelet, Dublin, Campo are the likely schools.

Track Rat said...

Simone Abdur-Rahim is the daughter of Long Beach Poly star Karim Abdur-Rahim, and Valley High standout Cha'Ron Abdur-Rahim. She attends Cosumnes Oaks High school in Elk Grove, CA.

Anonymous said...

Saint Mary's berkeley also has a formidable team this year with a solid returning top 5.

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