Campolindo still appears to be the team to beat this season, with the 3 time defending champions returning a solid portion of last year’s title team along with a great deal of talented upstarts from the frosh-soph level. Redwood and Maria Carrillo will both be in contention for the title as well as the two schools return a great deal of talent as well.
The Cougars lose 4 varsity members to graduation but they return a very solid front end which will be tough to beat. Senior Jared Yabu had an electric fall last year, finishing in 2nd place at NCS and following that up with an 8th place finish at state. While illness and injury derailed the majority of his track season, he still is firmly one of the favorites for the individual section title. Fellow senior Ray Diaz had a remarkable spring in running 9:32 for 3200m and advancing to MOC in that event. If he continues his upward momentum he could also factor into the title discussion. Veteran Richard Gong also excelled in track running 9:49 for 3200m which gives “Campo” the best front end in the section. After those 3 there is some uncertainty as to who will fill out the rest of the lineup but the Cougars have plenty of talent to fill those gaps. Teddy Buckley and Cameron Iniguez-Reyes had fantastic freshman campaigns in track, with the duo clocking 10:16 and 10:25 in the 3200m respectively. Thibault Gourlin, Ethan Sauerberg, and Tim Sams also had productive track seasons at the F/S level and should help fill out the back end. 2015 DFAL JV champ Kyle Flett has experience at the varsity level and should contribute as well. The biggest X factor for Campolindo this season is the addition of NCS MOC 800m champion Niki Moore, who will be doing cross country for the first time this fall. While middle distance performances do not always translate to a 3 mile/5k, Moore ran a solid 4:31 over 1600m during the spring. While they may be a bit short on experience coming into this season, Campolindo has the ability to capture another section title and are the favorites at this point in time.
The Giants rolled to a 2nd place finish in DII last season and return an abundance of talent which will put them in contention for the section title this year in DIII. Liam Anderson had a remarkable freshman year, making the final in the 1600 at MOC and running 4:18. He was also stellar last fall and will no doubt be looking to make another massive jump this year. Andrew Thomas peaked masterfully down the stretch in track to qualify for the state meet in the 800, running 1:55. He was a scorer last XC season for Redwood and is primed to make another big jump this year. Junior Zach Martinez flashed great potential in running 4:31 for 1600m as did sophomore Austin Patel who ran 4:42 over the distance. Throw in James Conant (10:08 for 3200m) and Ollie Sagatsume (10:14 for 3200m) and you have the makings of an incredibly deep and solid team. The big challenge will be getting newcomers up to speed when it comes to running the longer cross country distance. If the Giants are able to do this they will be right in contention to pull out the victory come November.
3. Maria Carillo
The Pumas captured the DII title last season and will look to contend for the section title once again this season. They are led by the dual threat of Ben Lawson (4:23/9:57) and Scott Kruetzfeldt (4:32/9:38) who are both coming off of great track campaigns and will provide a low scoring 1-2 punch. Zach Lindemann (10:08) and Jacob Wright (10:15) look to be next up in the order and should they continue their improvement curve will give Maria Carrillo with a fantastic starting point. After that there is a bit of a drop off to Taylor Ingram, who clocked a respectable 10:43 for 3200 and Cooper Moore who ran 4:48 for 1600. In order for the Pumas to close the gap on the top 2 teams they will need to address this issue with their back end and cultivate some more depth. As it stands now they have the potential to be in the mix for the title with their great front end, but depth is king in cross country and in order to truly close the gap they will need to be able to go 7 deep. For now things look good!
4. Las Lomas
The Knights lose a ton from last season’s NCS runner ups but they return two mega talents in Preston Norris (4:25/9:50) and Parker Wilkerson (2:01/4:46) who are both coming off of impressive freshman track seasons. Both of them were regular varsity members last cross country season and should have no problem stepping up into big time roles on the team this year. Underclassmen Preston Rodriguez (4:49) and Jacob Renaghan (4:53) had productive spring seasons and will look to step up and become contributors in 2016. There is a big drop off after that but Las Lomas regularly has one of the largest teams in the section year in year out (with over 120 athletes on average) so finding the talent to plug in should not be much of a problem for them. With an even keeled approach to the season the Knights will be in prime position to return to the state meet.
The Broncos find themselves in new territory this year, not only moving down from DII but also moving into the new Diablo Athletic League where they will get to compete against talented squads from Campolindo, Miramonte, Las Lomas, College Park, and Clayton Valley. This should prove a good measuring stick for Northgate as they try to put themselves in contention for a state berth. Omar Kabani, Wyatt Abranches, Connor Kugler, and Michael Wheeler all ran under 4:50 for 1600 this track season which gives the Broncos the needed depth to compete with Las Lomas for the final state meet berth in this division. Add in sophomore Joseph Momich who posted a solid 10:45 in the 3200 as a freshman and Northgate looks like they will be a solid contender this fall. If they can focus on racing and training as a pack, feeding off of each other and working together, the Broncos will be much improved this season.
1. Liam Anderson (Redwood) – 4:18 as a frosh is the real deal, looks fantastic coming into this season
2. Jared Yabu (Campolindo) – Has the fastest returning times from Hayward/Woodward and despite a stagnant spring, he has all the tools necessary to take the win
3. Ray Diaz (Campolindo) – One of the biggest improvers over the course of the track season, should continue that trend this fall
4. Omar Maklaf (Livermore) – Continued to impress during track, running 4:20 for 1600 and 9:39 for 3200
5. Scott Kruetzfeldt (Maria Carrillo) – His 9:38 performance for 3200 points to great potential
6. Ben Lawson (Maria Carrillo) – Training with talented teammates in one of the section’s most consistent programs will pay huge dividends this season
7. Preston Norris (Las Lomas) – The talent is there, another year of training should put him in contention for an individual medal
On the Bubble: Andrew Thomas (Redwood), Richard Gong (Campolindo), Parker Wilkerson (Las Lomas)