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Thursday, August 04, 2016

2016 NCS Division IV pre-season Cross Country rankings (Boys)

Our final NCS rankings will be the Division IV boys. Last season, the Sir Francis Drake boys won their second section title in school history since their first in 2000. They easily outdistanced Humboldt del Norte rivals McKinleyville (2nd) and Arcata (3rd). by placing 5 runners in the top 20. The individual winner was Drake senior Jeremy Leary who pulled away from El Molino's Brian Schulz with a winning time of 15:17.1.

For the upcoming season, several teams that move down from Division III will definitely be a factor. The favorite at this point is Miramonte which finished in 4th place in Division III last year and qualified for the state meet. They return 6 out of their 7 from last year including their #1 runner, Jonathan Fierro (4:33.38/10:14.99). They will be after their first section title since 2012 in Division III. Word on the street also has the Matadors adding a transfer from the Sac-Joaquin Section who will definitely be in their top 5 if the rumor is true.
Chasing them will be last year's 2nd place Division IV team, McKinleyville. They return 5 out of their top 7 which includes their top 3 from last year's section meet, Austin Nolan (2:01.47/4:32.18/10:14.71), Joe Rieder (4:37.82/10:19.47) and rising sophomore Trent Padilla (4:33.14/10:08.20). Also in the mix will be Sir Francis Drake (above following their victorious NCS MOC effort with coach Robyn Berry) who will be led by impressive rising junior Wyatt Miceli (15:55.6 at Hayward). He runs Cross Country in the fall and is a competitive cyclist in the spring. The Piedmont boys missed the state meet last year by an agonizing one point and will be fired up to qualify to race at Woodward Park. Along with Drake and Piedmont, Bishop O'Dowd and San Rafael drop down from Division III and will both contend for that 3rd and last 3rd state meet spot. Piner and Albany each return two runners under 17 minutes but will need to regroup to be in contention. St. Mary's Berkeley has been one of the strongest team in this division for many years and can never be counted out.

The race for the individual title will be an interesting one. Last year's second place finisher, Brian Schulz of El Molino, would have been the fastest returner here will now be chasing Cooper Teare of St. Joseph Notre Dame in Division V. The fastest and top returner from last year's section final will be Kellen O'Neill of Arcata who finished in 3rd place with a time of 15:31.0. The other runners that also broke 16 minutes at the section final were Jonathan Fierro of Miramonte (15:44.3) and Wyatt Micelli (15:55.6) of Sir Francis Drake.

Division IV Boys (Top 3 Advance to State)
1) Miramonte-Slight favorite with the best returning team from last year's section meet.
2) McKinleyville-Rising program looking for their cross country section title in school history.
3) Sir Francis Drake-They are the defending champion but will need to somehow replace their #1.
4) Piedmont-Hoping for top 3 finish after just missing the state meet in '15.
5) Bishop O'Dowd-They are ranked 5th now but could easily place in top 3.
6) San Rafael-Won this division 3 times since 2010. Kabbara gives them strong #1.
On the bubble: AlbanyArcataPinerSt. Mary's Berkeley

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2015 NCS meet time:

Kellen O'Neill (3 in Division IV) Arcata 15:31.0
Jonathan Fierro (7 in Division III) Miramonte 15:44.3
Wyatt Miceli (7 in Division IV) Sir Francis Drake 15:55.6
Jonny Vargas (17 in Division III) Piner 16:03.4
Munir Kabbara (20 in Division III) San Rafael 16:11.3

Comments? Do you know of impact freshmen that will attend at any of the above schools? Feel free to chime in the comment section below. Did I miss anybody? How would you rank this division differently?

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