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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Major changes for 2016 NCS XC Divisions approved

You can check out the divisions for the fall season at the link below which was approved a few days ago. As it stands now, there will be 8 potential teams in Division I, 19 teams in Division 2, 29 teams in Division III, 29 teams in Division IV and 66 teams in Division V. Keep in mind that not all schools field cross country teams and the number of teams in Division V has been fairly high for as far back as I can remember. 

The major change is that the break point for each division now resembles more closely with the Southern Section and San Diego Sections. The result of the change leaves Division I with only 8 teams and makes the other four divisions much more competitive at the section level. Whether NCS teams will field stronger teams in those divisions will be determined in the next few seasons. 

If you have any thoughts on the new divisions, feel free to comment in the section below.

You can also check out the minutes from the last NCS meeting which includes the details of the proposal as well as the vote counts:


Anonymous said...

Let me guess, a big push for this by the DFAL?

Albert Caruana said...

The proposal for the divisional changes was initiated by Dublin coach, Chris Williams.

Anonymous said...

Why was the change made? What are the positives?

Albert Caruana said...

The positives are that teams from NCS will race against schools more their size at the California state meet. As a result of the change, NCS teams could potentially place higher at the state meet which could mean more automatic team qualifiers in future years.

Jackson8or said...

Yeah boy! Looks like good ol' Division V is gonna be heating up this fall.

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." -Ernest Hemingway

Anonymous said...

This is going me mess up a lot of the divisions. Only 2 of the top 5 DI schools from last year still in DI. Only 3 of the top 5 return to DIII. DII and DIV will be much stronger than last year.

Anonymous said...

I wish this was consistent across the state. If you look at the D1 results at the state XC championships, there is as much as a 2,800 student difference in enrollment (Great Oak and McFarland) between the schools. Great Oak Coach Doug Soles said as much when asked how to build a cross country power, "Find the largest school you can that has an opening."

Anonymous said...

Looks like NCS has chosen to "game the system"
Were most NCS schools even part of this conversation?

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight, we change 4 other divisions to accomodate D-1. Wow that sounds fair. NOT!!! Change everything for them. Would the change take place if it was D-5? School population are always changing and divisions seem to self ajust. Plus if you n Dominates a division for a certain time then the school is bumped up a division. No need to change all the other divisions..

Anonymous said...

WTF are they thinking?
Can a school move up? 8 teams and 3 spots. I'll take my chances there.

Pierre Chan said...

They are not "gaming" the system, but merely complying with the system that already exists. Berths are distributed to sections based on state results. The southern section schools with larger cbeds have been dominating at state over teams from other sections with much lower cbeds. The NCS is merely leveling the playing field with this decision and I agree with what they are doing. If every section did this we would have a level field. You could argue that this would lead to a state meet that is "southern section only" in division I, but isn't it largely this way already? I would love it if CCS did this. In the short term it would make it more difficult to get out of section, but once at state I feel like our section would perform better and create more berths in the long run.

Anonymous said...

so it is ok to have ncs schools with larger cbeds dominate other ncs teams with much lower cbeds?

Anonymous said...

Hi Albert, do I count correctly that only four teams are being folder into D5?

Anonymous said...

San Ramon Valley (10) and Monte Vista (5) girls, and Monte Vista boys (10) all represented NCS well at State, finishing in the top 10 in D1. Very few seniors were involved in those efforts. Why is it a good idea to pull them from D1?

Anonymous said...

Because despite herculean efforts, most NCS D1 champions can never seem to finish much higher than 10th on the boy's side. The idea is that by moving them down to D2, they'll have more of a shot at bringing home hardware.

Andrew said...

@Anonymous 8:20 PM, NCS D1 gets 2 spots, not 3. Coach Chan and both Anonymous's @12:08 PM get it. It's all about performance at the State Meet and increasing the number of spots.

@Anonymous 7:20 PM Stop being so narrow-minded. This is not about accommodating the NCS D1 schools that remain (of which I am affiliated with one). NCS D1 gets wrecked at State no matter who goes. We are normally hoping for one in the top 10. This is about making the other divisions stronger at the State Meet and getting more qualifying spots. Now DLS and MV and SRV can go Top 5 and get spots for their EBAL brethren. That's why it's a good idea to pull them from D1. This is to benefit the whole section, not just certain teams. Also not done to spite certain teams.

As you say, the divisions will self-adjust. They've adjust to heavily favor the SS over the past 10+ years. Time for someone else to adjust. Also, NCS does not move teams with sustained success up divisions anymore.

Anonymous said...

So Andrew, since you have a huge school population, why is your program failing in Division 1? If enrollment is truly the answer to all of the NCS woes in Divisions 1 and 2, can we now expect this new alignment to fix that? Now that the numbers are allegedly more fair?

Andrew said...

@Anonymous 10:26 AM, I will address your first question of Berkeley's lack of success: culture. Just because we are a big school doesn't mean success. I think school population is more likely to lead to success because of higher chances. But it certainly does not guarantee success. If you want to get the long version of why Berkeley isn't a top team and hasn't been for years, please email me at and you can come out from your anonymous shell and we can have a real discussion.

Transitioning to your next questions, I think the same concept can be applied. Higher enrollment is not a guarantee. But it levels the playing field for Division 2 at least. As I thought I insinuated plenty, D1 will not be fixed because it's not like the schools are getting bigger and better (except Dublin and Dougherty Valley). For instance, Berkeley has lost about 300 students (and counting) over the past few years due to new schools in the area. We hardly notice the new schools in XC because they don't have full teams or good teams yet, but they affect us.

D2 on the other hand gets these larger schools who are also powerhouse programs. Yes, I do believe it will help. The proposal outlined a scenario provided the data: The NCS would have the following improved performances since 2004 if the proposed alignment had been in place:
○ 3 extra podium finishes and 3 extra top-10 placings in Division 2
○ 2 extra podium finishes and 5 extra top-10 placings in Division 3
○ 18 extra podium finishes, 10 extra top-10 placings, and 13 additional state championships in Division 4.

Andrew said...

In case Albert isn't publishing my comment because I included my email asking you to email me if you wanted a long version of why Berkeley isn't a successful program...

@Anonymous 10:26 AM - You are asking why Berkeley is not one of the top programs? Culture, dedication, talent, other sports, academics, so many other factors besides school population. School population increases odds. Guarantees nothing. Let me know when you figure out to motivate kids with a guaranteed, legal method and I'll introduce you to the kids I coach.

On top of that, besides Dougherty Valley and Dublin, NCS schools are not getting bigger. Yes, Berkeley is big. But we have lost about 300 students in 3 years because of new schools in the area. Not enough to move us down a division, but enough to siphon talent away. I believe at least California, Castro Valley, and James Logan are dealing with the same thing with new schools cropping up. That is why we see 66 D5 schools.

As I said before, this change will not benefit NCS D1 schools at the State Meet. I feel NCS D1 schools are being left for dead as sacrificial lambs to the south. Thus, I believe the section is trying to level the playing field for the other divisions. Here is the data provided on that proposal, which I think says a lot about how it can help the section. You should read about it:

The NCS would have the following improved performances since 2004 if the proposed alignment had been in place:
○ 3 extra podium finishes and 3 extra top-10 placings in Division 2
○ 2 extra podium finishes and 5 extra top-10 placings in Division 3
○ 18 extra podium finishes, 10 extra top-10 placings, and 13 additional state championships in Division 4.

Albert Caruana said...

Sorry for the delay Andrew. I thought I had published that already.

Anonymous said...

If you are a big school that can't attract talent either illegally or through past success (Judging from what I've discerned, Berkeley High School has yet to make a team appearance at the state championship so a school like that has no real pull) your "hope" is that your sheer size combined with an athletically-oriented culture at your school will yield ~9 quality athletes a year (a much smaller team size than any other sport). That may or may not happen. Read some of the coach's interviews and see how hard it is to get teenagers to believe in delayed gratification.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 10:26 AM,
Unless you are affiliated with a program from another section which will now see new high-powered NCS programs in your state race, I'm pretty sure you understand that this change was done to benefit the section as a whole. The bipartisan nature of this proposal is evidenced by the fact that the person who suggested it now sees their team's (Dublin High School) chances at a team state meet berth significantly lower next year. Thus, I can only assume you are affiliated with an NCS team which was always good enough to make it out of sections but never quite good enough to do much damage at the state meet. Now, with the advent of new teams (who are expected to do damage at the state level) your program must rise to a greater challenge to qualify past NCS and probably won't make it to state as soon as next year. That's gotta be a bummer (seriously). But, I would encourage you to step off your high horse, because your program is not really much different from Andrew's Berkeley team. Your team used to consistently have a shot at a mediocre state performance because the big dogs were beating up on teams in other NCS divisions, and now teams like his will have a better shot at a mediocre state performance because the big dogs will be beating up on your team.

Anonymous said...

Some of us old folk remember the day's of Berkeley Highs power house track and field teams from the 70's and 80"s under coach white that included a few big time distance runners. Same problems you state existed then as they do now. Question, How many of Berkeley's State Championship game basketball players live in Berkeley? Same can be said of Castro Valley, Logan, ect... BART can do wonder's for Sports. It only takes five to score in Basketball and XC.

Andrew said...

@Anonymous 9:03 AM, I have no idea if those problems existed then as they do now. I'm honestly not old enough. I'm sure they did, as youngsters haven't changed much. But the world and society has. Technology is good and bad, single sport specialization is certainly a thing now more than ever (was crew a thing back then, especially at BHS?), more focus on academics (which is a good thing in our minds), and a myriad of other things. I think it goes to show just how great Coach White is. The man is a genius and our doors are not closed to him.

Like I said before, email me if you want the long version.

I don't know the kids from the boys state finalist basketball team, so I don't know the answer to your question. None of them run track or XC, I can tell you that (although one did during his freshman year).

Anonymous said...

○ 18 extra podium finishes, 10 extra top-10 placings, and 13 additional state championships in Division 4.

Could someone please elaborate as to the teams/individuals that would have won the state Championship? What years, individuals and teams?


Anonymous said...

It's good to see strife in another section for a change. I thought CCS had a monopoly on drama. :)

Albert Caruana said...

I can tell you that there is no drama free section. Can you imagine the southern section and all those schools and athletes?

Anonymous said...

The CCS XC divisions seem pretty stable. It is on the track that leagues like the WCAL get shafted.

Jason Lewis said...

I get what the NCS is trying to do in giving our section as a whole a better shot of competing at the state meet.

That being said it kills me as the coach of McKinleyville hs. We have been working and working to build up a program that can compete in d4 where we were already the small guys with zero history. I think it's safe to say we have gotten there, but now this is happening and it's like we have to compete with schools that are literally double our size.

Not going to lie, when I first heard that the realignment had passed I was hoping that my AD had reported us as 600 to move down to d5 since we were 604 this past year (if I figured it right we would have been 5th at state boys, and 3rd girls). Much to my displeasure I noticed we were reported at 621 and so now we have to beat schools that have almost the same enrollment as Arcata and McKinleyville combined (imagine the team we would have if we combined forces just for a second...).

Anyways, that's the game I guess and we just have to do what we've been doing; working hard, playing Jedi mind tricks on kids to convince them to run xc and not play soccer/volleyball/tennis/etc, and working hard some more...

I wish the state would fix this since it is a state tournament/meet and it would be nice if all sections had the same division population limits. It would be cool if the divisions made some sense like:
0-600: d5
601-1000: d4
1001-1500: d3
1501-2100: d2
2100 +: d1

Maybe my pop windows aren't quite right but you get the general ideal that it's kinda a linear thing. Anyways, back to work...

Sebastian Andersson (Berkeley High) said...

@Anonymous 9:03AM:
Berkeley's historic basketball season was as authentic as they come. No booster clubs, transfers or forged report cards were involved in their tournament run. Kindly leave them out of this discussion.

Jason Lewis said...

Actually if you did it on a percentage (let's try 158.33%) so that the rate of growth for each division remains the same you'd see something like:

D5: 0-600
D4: 601-950 (350 gap, 158% diff)
D3: 951-1500 (550 gap, 158% diff)
D2: 1501-2400 (900 gap, 158% diff)
D1: 2400+

Currently what you see is:
D5: 0-600
D4: 601-1273 (672 gap, 212% diff)
D3: 1274-1849 (575, 145%)
D2: 1850-2638 (788, 142%)
D1: 2639+

Again, the numbers I'm presenting aren't the "the answer", it's more the idea that since we have a state meet it would seem appropriate and logical that the cif should look at creating statewide division population standards that make sense and are as fair as possible. Not to the satisfaction of any one section, but to the state as a whole. I understand that what that would mean is the southern section would very likely end up very top heavy with a ton of D1/2s, and a section like ours might end of with a bunch of d4/5s, but at least when you make it to the state meet you'd know that everyone is on equal ground and one school isn't twice the size of another.

I understand that was essentially the argument for the current ncs divisions, but I say take it a step further and have the cif look at it. I think what we did was simply give in to another section and it probably makes the cif less intrigued to step in and try to make it right for all.

Andrew said...

I too would like this. Coach Lewis, you're an awesome coach and have done amazing things up there in a quick manner. I know you and your team will work hard to keep it going. D4 is one of the divisions that gets stronger certainly and will eventually gain the extra spots to make it less stressful to try to qualify.

Albert Caruana said...

The following was sent to me by Jesuit-SJS coach, Walt Lange.

I have long advocated “reshuffling the deck” the week of the state meet. State divisions would be determined on Sunday, six days before the meet. Take all the teams the Sections have chosen to send to the State meet, rank them in order of enrollment, divide by 5. Last November the breakdowns would have been:

D1 2297+
D2 1757+
D3 1305+
D4 604+
D5 0+

Those disgruntled with the present system can play “fantasy cross country” as I did in 2013 and 2015. It’s fun, anyone can play:


Standouts in this game both years have been Palos Verdes and Campolindo. Congrats to them on their fantasy state championships!

Re-shuffling the deck simply adheres to the idea that student body size determines the divisions; until recent years all Sections, or nearly all, used this method, as did the State meet until 2008. As we know, the Central section moved to the “competitive equity” model a couple of years ago (what happens when the same team wins D1 three years in a row? Are they disbanded?)

In January, the Southern Section moved to the competitive equity model in what its commissioner described as “the biggest change in our section’s history”. But it kept the divisions-based-on-enrollment model for track and field and cross country.

Now, the NCS has gone a different direction as well and capitulated to the Southern section.

In the Sac-Joaquin Section our commissioners have made it quite clear they are not interested at all in the State meet and how the Sac-Joaquin teams fare there. Their sole interest is in their constituents, their member schools, and fairness at the Section meet. Since most Section members don’t go to the State meet, most Section members aren’t interested in the problem either.

It’s my understanding that any change to the State meet must come from the CIF Federated Council (, a group of 49 principals, athletic directors, superintendents, etc. The Federated Council receives a report each year after the State meet, usually from one of the Section commissioners. The reports ( have been consistently rosy, the meet is going very well with large numbers of participants and spectators.

Anonymous said...

For those curious, here's what CCS would look like under the same numbers:

D1: 6 schools (smallest: Salinas)
D2: 24 Schools (smallest: Mountain View)
D3: 34 schools (smallest: Sacred Heart Cathedral)
D4: 32 schools (smallest: Pacific Grove)
D5: 35 schools

Not sure how the "associate" member schools fit in, but they're all under the 600 student line.

Anonymous said...

Can I apply to be the new Sac Joaquin Section Commissioner or is it one of those old political things, where it's more about who you know than the best interest of the athletes and programs?

Anonymous said...

I am a former athlete and parent of an athlete competing in the SJS. For the life of me, I don't understand why CIF can't mandate that schools will play by the same rules when it comes to CIF State Championships. I find it extremely short sighted of section commissioners to focus solely on equity within the section with no thought of state level competition. If a SJS team can (within the section) compete against larger schools, that is great. But wouldn't it be better for the section and its member schools if, at the state championship, that same team achieves greater success by competing against similar sized schools? Would that not result in more slots at state for the section? More opportunities for the section's best athletes to compete at the state level? And increased interest in the section? This shouldn't be more complicated than our electoral process. The teams competing at the state meet, should be competing against schools of a similar size, period. It's not rocket science. How would this be unfair to anyone, unlike the current, convoluted system.

Albert Caruana said...

Well put. I have always said that any changes need to come from the state level so everybody is playing under the same rules.

Anonymous said...

Would these divisional changes apply to all NCS sports..including Basketball?

Albert Caruana said...

They would not. This is just for XC.

Harold Kuphaldt said...

I am enjoying the debate/discussion here. A couple of years ago (2013) in the SJS we had a significant change in division alignments for XC which created a huge uproar in our section and the discussion sounded very similar to the string of comments here. We heard arguments about how unfair it was for teams in our Section to run in the state meet against teams much larger. Then, there were those who argued that moving more teams out of D1 down to the lower divisions created too large of an enrollment disparity within the D2 - D4 making the schools at the lower end of each of those divisions struggle to compete at the Section level. Walt Lange is correct, the SJS commissioner made it clear that he didn't care that much about how SJS teams faired at the state meet. The main concern for the commissioner was 'equity at the Section level'. After much discussion and heated debate, the SJS made adjustments to those division alignment changes the very next year (2014) to move us a little closer to where we were before the adjustments were made in 2013. Those adjustments were made primarily to make the Section more equally competitive with little regard for state meet results. The commissioner essentially agreed that by putting the same number of schools in each division made the Section meet less competitive in D4 than in D1 because fewer schools field teams in the lower divisions. Despite these adjustments, the SJS continues to have significant enrollment disadvantages compared to the Southern Section at the state meet.

The bottom line is that it is very difficult with the diversity and geographic variety and differences in each section in our state to have equity at the section level and also at the state level. Setting state-wide standards for divisions will create challenges for equity at the Section level as it will with these division changes in the NCS.

I think Walt Lange's idea of re-aligning divisions after the Section meet makes sense and allows the Sections the autonomy to create there own divisions at the Section level and still have more equity at the state meet. Further, there is precedence for doing this in other sports at the state level.

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