Overview: Like many previous years, the 2014 cross country season saw the vaunted Campolindo machine tear through the season, capturing the programs 12th NCS title on the girls side and landing a 2nd place finish at the state meet, its 11th podium finish. While losing the core of last year’s team, the Cougars still return enough talented runners to make a lot of noise and capture its 3rd straight section title. However, Bishop O’Dowd, last year’s runner up, returns a strong contingent of girls, many of whom had mind blowing personal bests at the end of the track season, putting them in a great position to capture the team title. The two other teams who advanced to the state meet from last year; Las Lomas and Tamalpais both return the majority of their squads to put them in contention for state meet births as well. As usual, freshmen/transfers will make a big impact on the outcome of the season but for now these are how things stand.
1. Bishop O’dowd
The Dragons are poised to fly even higher this season and look to improve on their runner up finish at last year’s meet as well as improve on their 4th place finish at the state meet. Grace Taylor spearheads the attack for O’Dowd with her times ofin the1600/3200 being the top marks posted by any individual in this division during track. Junior Jourdan Amen continued to be solid during track as well running in the 3200. What really gives O’Dowd the advantage in the team race is the remarkable late season improvement by Linnea Gullikson and Madison Burke who both unleashed big personal bests in the 3200 at the Bay Shore meet, with both of them running identical times of in that event. Right behind them is Emma Wawrzynek who clocked solid times of in the 1600/3200 giving the dragons some fearsome depth. Rounding out the returners are veterans Kaelyn Shirley ( 1600) and Natalia Brusco (5:42/12:11 1600/3200). With the staggering depth coming back, Bishop O’Dowd is poised to end Campolindo’s steak and capture their first NCS title since 2004. However it will take a commitment to bringing up the younger members of the team to the rigors of competing at the varsity level and working on running together as a cohesive unit.
While the Cougars only return 3 runners from last year’s NCS title team, an epic track season has once again planed “Chuck’s Army” in great position for the 2015 season. Leading the way is senior Hana Sun, who impressed this spring runningin the 1600 and in the 3200 and should provide a much needed low stick in the team score. A trio of underclassmen also impressed during the spring as Jenna Miles 5:23/11:29, Bella Chao 5:37/12:15 and Hannah Ruane 5:17/11:13 give the Cougars some great depth. Veteran Emma Ishida continued her steady improvement curve as well, running in the 1600/3200. The wild card yet again for Campo is senior Sarah Cella, who came alive during the closing stages of this past track season to run in the 800, finishing 4th in the event at MOC. Considering she has been a varsity scorer for the team the past 2 seasons, the potential is there. While Bishop O’Dowd has fashioned a small lead in this division going into the season, Campolindo has the necessary tools to reel them in if they can focus on honing down the margin between their 4th-5th scoring positions.
3. Las Lomas
The Knights look to continue their recent string of time success and make it to the state meet for the 6th year in a row. Leading the charge yet again is defending section/state champion Chloe Hansel, who will give the knights a low stick in every race, a valuable asset in team competition. Veteran Sydney Polich impressed during the track season, breaking thebarrier in the 3200 and running in the 1600 while Junior to be Elise Stankus also had a solid spring in running 5:29/12:20 for 1600/3200. In addition, twin sisters Emma (5:36/12:29) and Katie (5:38/11:59) Saenger both excelled during the track season in the 1600/3200 pointing to some great potential this upcoming fall. The biggest challenge for Las Lomas will be closing down the gap between Hansel and the rest of the scoring pack. If an effort can be made to work on bringing the 2-5 scoring back closer to the front of races it will pay huge dividends for the team score. However, at this point in time, Las Lomas has done enough to position themselves in the hunt for a berth to state and a medal position (top 3) at the NCS finals.
Tam came on strong at the end of last cross country season to grab a 3rd place finish at the NCS meet and advance to the state meet for the first time since they have been in D3. The red tailed hawks continued that momentum this spring as frontrunner Lizzy Labeeuw-Anderson made it all the way to the NCS MOC finals in the 1600, running a personal best ofto put her in contention for a top 10 finish at the section meet this upcoming season. Junior Kate Miekley will look to improve upon her 13th place finish at last year’s NCS meet, with her clocking in the 1600 this spring pointing to good things in the future. Behind those two are the tandem of Meghan Tanel and Olivia Phillips who put up respectable 1600 times of 5:35 and 5:30 to help bolster the ever important pack margin. The big wild card appears to be Megan Bartschat, who impressed this spring in running in the 3200, a performance which indicates that big things are in store for her after some more consistent training this summer. As it stands now Tam is just a few steps behind Las Lomas and with a great summer of training could move up considerably.
On the bubble: Miramonte, Acalanes, Albany