Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018 NCS Division V pre-season Cross Country rankings (Boys)

With the divisional changes that took place two seasons ago, Division V will still have the majority of the teams under the past cutoff of 500 (only seven teams are above that number). Although the top end of this division now goes up to 600, the top teams will remain the usual suspects who compete for the state qualifying spots year after year.

During the 2017 season, SF University proved to not only be the best boys' Division V team in BCL and NCS but in the entire state. At the California state XC meet, University won their first boys' state championship in school history. They had podiumed 7 times before under the tutelage of former coach Jim Tracy with two 2nd place finishes and five 3rd place finishes.

This season, University will be favored to win their 2nd straight section title. University has won 12 section Division V titles and 16 section titles overall. Should they win their 17th section title, that amount would tie them with De La Salle for the most NCS titles in cross country.

University will be led by two strong juniors in Charlie Kennedy (1:56.26/4:24.23) and Clay Mills (4:35.5/9:56.11). They graduated two seniors from last year's top five but have plenty of back up with Ezra Parkhill (4:39.96/9:59.78) and three runners who all ran faster than 4:50 in the 1600m (Nick Pantelick, Colin Cooper, and Chase Leffers).

The next three best teams seem to be very similar and could all be competing for 2nd place. St. Joseph Notre Dame missed making the state meet for the first time since 2008. They return their entire lineup from last year's team and will be led by super talented junior, Zavier Annis (6th at NCS). Annis was also a sprinter during the Track and Field season with 11.29, 22.49 and 20'3.75" personal bests. Quite a combination of endurance and speed.

College Prep has been another strong program in this division and will contend here once again. They will be led by the duo of Jacob Lehmann Duke (4:41.31/9:57.53) and Kabir Bhansali (4:40.43/9:57.66). Lick-Wilmerding finished in 3rd place at the state meet last year but will be in rebuild mode this coming season. They will have one of the top runners in this division with Nick Harris (1:59.89/4:24.34/9:56.60) and always have a lot of depth.

The battle for the 5th and final qualifying spot for the state meet should be a very competitive one considering there were 26 complete teams at last year's section final. One of the teams that will be in contention will be Rincon Valley Christian. They finished in 14th place last year but the entire team returns and they were very impressive during this past Track and Field season. They will also be led by coach Harry Skandera who used to coach Santa Rosa Christian before the school closed it's doors in 2011.

The rest of the contenders will include Marin Academy, Convent & Stuart Hall, and Head-Royce.  All three teams took a bit of a hit with graduating seniors so they will need their younger runners to step it up this coming season. Marin Academy has one of the top runners in Rob Hudson and returns two additional runners from their varsity team last year. Convent & Stuart Hall also returns three runners, finished in 4th place last year and have been in the top 10 the last three years. Head-Royce is another program on the rise which finished in 9th place last year. They return 5 runners from last year's team and could be a factor in November.

The race for the individual title may be not quite as wide open as last year. Andre Williams of Sonoma Academy is the top returner and will be slightly favored to win his first section title over Nick Harris of Lick-Wilmerding. Keeping them honest will be the University duo of Charlie Kennedy and Clay Mills as well as Marin Academy junior Rob Hudson. College Prep's Jacob Lehmann-Duke and Kabir Bhansali both broke 10 minutes for 3200m. on the track and could be in the mix as well. Zavier Annis of St. Joseph Notre Dame could be another dangerous runner considering the speed he displayed during this past track and field season.

Division V Boys (Top 5 Advance to State)
1) University-Defending state champions are the best team returning.
2) St. Joseph ND-They missed making the state meet last year but could finish as high as 2nd.
3) College Prep-Another solid top 3 level team 
4) Lick-Wilmerding-Last title before 2016 was Division III in 1989. Will be aiming for top 3 finish in '18.
5) Rincon Valley Christian-Finished in 14th place last year and will finish much higher this year.
On the bubble: Head RoyceMarin AcademyStuart Hall

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2016 NCS meet time:

Andre Williams (3) Kelseyville 15:51.00
Nick Harris (4) Lick-Wilmerding 15:52.20
Charlie Kennedy (5) SF University 15:53.8
Zavier Annis (6) St. Joseph Notre Dame 15:54.1
Clay Mills (8) SF University 15:56.0

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