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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

2016 NCS Division III pre-season Cross Country rankings (Girls) courtesy of Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist

Much like the boys, this division will feature a battle between Redwood, Maria Carrillo, Campolindo and Las Lomas for the 4 spots to the state meet.

1. Redwood
The Giants return the best 1-2 in this division with footlocker finalist Glennis Murphy and middle distance standout Gillian Wagner. Both excelled this track season with Murphy running a superb 10:40 for 3200 and Wagner running 5:00 for 1600 to go with a 2:12 performance in the 800. After those two there is a bit of a drop off to Annie Fogarty who was a regular varsity member last season and had a productive spring running 5:27 in the 1600 and 11:27 in the 3200. Those 3 will give Redwood an impressive front end but after that there are some serious depth concerns. Sophia McWhorter did run a solid 19:48 for 5k at the Clovis Invitational last fall but struggled the remainder of the season, never breaking 20:00 for 5k again. She ran a solid 2:23 in the 800 during track but it still remains to be seen if she can translate that into a consistent season of racing. Lucie James ran a respectable 12:31 for 3200 during track season and looks to be the #5 coming into the season. In order for Redwood to capture the title it will take an improved back end to keep the team score from getting too high but for now the Giants have the inside track to take home the hardware at the end of the season.

2. Campolindo
The 3 time defending champions have some work to do if they want to extend their winning streak as they have been hit hard by graduation loses. Juniors Hannah Ruane and Isabella Chao both ran exceptionally well late into the track season and that will give the Cougars a great starting point but there are some major concerns after that. Varsity scorer Savannah Hilton had a solid spring, running 5:35 and 12:10 for 1600/3200 and should continue that trend this fall. Junior Jenna Miles was injured towards the end of last cross country season and did not compete this track season. She has flashed some considerable talent for Campo in the past and should she regain her previous form she could be a major boost to the team’s depth. For the Cougars to hold their ground against the rest of the teams in this division it will take a season long commitment to working on the 1-5 pack margin: up front they are very close to Redwood but after that there is a drop off that will need to be addressed. All the teams mentioned here are extremely close to each other and any demonstration of improvement from the 4-5 positions could end up being the difference in November. For now Campolindo stands at #2.

3. Las Lomas
The Knights only lose 1 member of their varsity squad from last year and appear to be right in the thick of the team competition. While they may lack a quality front runner at this point in time, they have what many of the other teams in this division currently lack: depth at the back end. Sydney Polich, Katie Saenger, Elise Stankus and Ally Heitmann all ran under 5:40 for 1600 this past track season, with Saenger posting the best 3200 with a 11:59 clocking. Throw in ultra-talented sophomore Veronica Towle (5:17/11:24 1600/3200) and you have the makings of a very solid group. Las Lomas has the added advantage of competing against quality teams from the Diablo Athletic League (Miramonte, Campolindo, College Park and others) the whole season, which should be a great proving ground for them. The only issue here is the lack of a proven frontrunner but with the amount of depth they have coming back that may not be that big of an issue. Look for the Knights to challenge the top teams in this division the entire season and don’t be surprised if they end up finishing higher than their current ranking at the end of the year.

4. Maria Carillo
The Pumas look primed for another trip to state but will have to do some work if they want to compete with the best teams in this division. Aimee Armstrong (5:20 1600) and Sydnie Rivas (11:28 3200) look to be the frontrunners this year for the north bay power. Talia Leano showed great promise over the spring with a stellar 2:18 clocking for 800. If she can successfully make the transition to the longer race distance that could be a huge boon to Maria Carrillo’s chances and landing in the top 3. Megan Field (12:05 3200) and Lily Raymond (5:45 1600) round out the returners at this point in time. For Maria Carrillo to be successful this season it will take a commitment to working on improving at every scoring position. At this moment they lack a strong frontrunner and a strong pack so both of those will need to be addressed if the Pumas want to make some noise this fall.

5. El Cerrito
The Gauchos surprised many last season as they peaked masterfully to capture the final state meet birth, and with their entire top 7 returning this fall they may be aiming even higher than simply making it. It was hard to find track results but both Cailyn Sakurai (11:42) and Naomi Furuya (11:54) posted solid 3200 times while Grace Rusin (5:32) had the best 1600 time out of the bunch. If El Cerrito wants to make a return trip to Fresno they will have to work on improving their pack margin and the ability to hang with teams that have better frontrunners. As it stands now they lack the super deep pack to really challenge the top 4 teams and they also lack a superstar frontrunner that can be in contention for an individual medal and those things will have to be worked on throughout the season. For now they are a talented team with a scary amount of upside that would shock some of the established powers come the postseason.

Individual rankings
1. Glennis Murphy (Redwood) – Has the best 1600 and 3200 times of anyone in this division and looks to be the heavy favorite at this point
2. Hannah Ruane (Campolindo) – Her 10:59 performance in the 3200 is behind only Murphy in this division
3. Gillian Wagner (Redwood) – Primed for a big fall breakthrough after a great track season
4. Isabella Chao (Campolindo) – Had an impressive spring in running 5:06 in the 1600 to make MOC, expect similar things this season
5. Rayna Stanziano (Concord) Mega talent who excelled in track despite minimal training, could easily move up in these rankings by seasons end
6. Lauren Lum (Alameda) – 5:06 for 1600 puts her right in the mix here
7. Veronica Towle (Las Lomas) – Lots of potential based on a solid track season
On the bubble: Amy Stanfield (Sonoma Valley), Lara Vetter (Alameda), Sydnie Rivas (Maria Carrillo)  

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