Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Pre-Season NorCal Cross Country team rankings

Nearly impossible this year with mostly no spring Track and Field season. Feel free to comment below on teams I may have missed or teams that you feel should be ranked higher. The SJS divisions have not been posted yet so I had to either make an educated guess or leave as a question mark.

Boys
1) Bellarmine (CCS) Division I
2) Jesuit (SJS) Division I
3) De La Salle (NCS) Division II
4) Campolindo (NCS) Division III
5) Davis (SJS) Division I
6) Dublin (NCS) Division I
7) Bella Vista (SJS) Division?
8) Monte Vista (NCS) Division II
9) Sir Francis Drake (NCS) Division III
10) Scotts Valley (CCS) Division IV

On the Bubble
Amador Valley (NCS) Division II

Girls
1) St. Francis, Mt. View (CCS) Division II
2) St. Francis, Sacramento (SJS) Division?
3) Oak Ridge (SJS) Division I
4) Campolindo (NCS) Division III
5) Del Oro (SJS) Division III
6) Dougherty Valley (NCS) Division I
7) Redwood (NCS) Division II
8) Granada (NCS) Division II
9) College Park (NCS) Division II
10) Menlo School (CCS) Division IV

On the Bubble
Vista del Lago (SJS) Division III
SF University (NCS) Division V
Lick-Wilmerding (NCS) Division V

Individuals will be posted next...

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regardless of enrollment numbers, St Francis (SJS) will move up to D1, based on competitive equity rules and winning last 4 D2 section titles.

Oak Ridge (SJS) girls will be hard-pressed to repeat as D1 section champs, but should make for good race.

Vista Del Lago (SJS) girls should fill the void left by St Francis moving up, and have Klos (sub 17 min) and 2 other low 18 min 5k teammates. Not sure about their 4&5 runners.

With the extra 6 months of training from the delayed start, freshman are going to catch up and bring more impact this year.

Albert Caruana said...

Good analysis. Appreciate the post and agree about the freshman impact with a longer buildup to the season.

Anonymous said...

Gotta find room for Del Oro. Chamberlain's younger sister is a freshman. And I believe they picked up a quality transfer.

Albert Caruana said...

Del Oro was definitely on my radar. Thank you for the additional information.

Anonymous said...

Amador Valley boys will be very top heavy with Lester & Houston (they have a 1:48 & 4:05 guy who might not be their #1) they also have 5 of 8 returning thou they are far back. 3 thru 7 are very young & with the extra time they could be very good. Only time will tell. Would not overlook them.

Anonymous said...

Just asked our principal how sports are going to look once we transition to hybrid. “Won’t be able to have sports until students are 100% back on campus.”

At this point I doubt we start Dec 12th.

Anonymous said...

That's quite a list Albert. Every team is from a private or public school of privilege that all serve higher income communities.

If there is a coach from a disadvantaged school who has a team that can crack Albert's top 10, I would appreciate knowing of you so that I can follow along and get some welcomed economic diversity.

Albert Caruana said...

I ranked teams based on the returners they have from last season as well as how strong they have been recently. If there are teams that you or anybody else feels I missed, feel free to post their name and returners.

Albert Caruana said...

Fair enough. I made the switch based on results from last year. I don't want to get accused of insider trading with my rankings. :D

Anonymous said...

@3:26
It is well known that sports teams are dominated by affluent communities. The challenges of facing lower socioeconomic schools & communities will rarely, if ever, be able to compete equitably. For example, it is well documented parents in affluent areas put their children in camps, music lessons & club sports from a young age. But in lower socioeconomic communities this is a foreign concept & flat out too expensive. I could go on and on. Those with money have an advantage. It’s just part of the class system we have & a product of systematic racism of this country.

Anonymous said...

And the discussion with those of privledge usually end up with them downplaying their advantage, justifying that advantage and will at one point digress into commentary about how many minorities are at the school. In the end the response almost all of the time, “run faster.”It’s a complicated issue. It’s not fair, but neither is placing title one schools in a different division than those of higher socioeconomic status.

Anonymous said...

I thought rankings were based on performance not race or social economics. the only thing that you said that makes sense is "run faster"

Anonymous said...

They are. This the affluent schools are all ranked top 10. It was an observation that the fastest teams are also the most advantaged. Do you not see that?

Btw, simply saying “run faster” shows your privledge.

Anonymous said...

It's called coaching & building a program. Do you not see that?

Anonymous said...

It's called coaching & building a program. Do you not see that?

Anonymous said...

Having the kind of support that comes with parents who can afford over 50K a year in tuition helps a little too.

Anonymous said...

@10:00 pm. You really think that or are you trolling? If the coaches listed there in the top 10 went to the poorest school in the section, you think they would be fighting for a state podium spot within a few years? Come on now...

Albert Caruana said...

I have always thought that the key to good/great teams is their coach. You take any of the elite coaches in the state and have them start coaching at a school that hasn't been particularly strong in XC and I strongly believe that coach will get that program very competitive, very quickly.

Anonymous said...

With a few exceptions of course, distance running is a sport of white privilege in the United States. It would be interesting to see a demographic breakdown of the top teams, but I am very sure they are not representative of the general population in terms of median family income or race. In fact the xc teams may not even be representative of the entire school population from which they are drawn. I am not sure how/why this happened as this is certainly not the case worldwide. Distance running should be a sport more easily open to all, certainly more so than many others. Of course coaching makes a difference all other factors being equal, but I do not think good coaching is enough in most instances to overcome other more profound structural barriers, not only access, but also community interest and other factors.

Anonymous said...

Yes, coaching is huge. Yes I do believe they will be competitive. But will they be fighting for that state podium spot? I don’t think so. For instance, go to wealthy communities. People are out walking, jogging and being active. Look at diet demographics. Wealthy communities eat more vegetables. It goes on and on. Yes coaching is huge but not the difference maker you think it is. And how about we ask the question of why these coaches are at these wealthy schools and not at schools with high minorities or lower socioeconomic status? Is it that they are racist or perhaps the reality is there’s good coaches there too but you don’t know it because of their demographics?

Albert Caruana said...

I will also add to my above comment that getting on the podium at the state meet is not the end-all to successful programs. There are a lot of great coaches doing incredible work with teams that some may not be seen as powerful but what those coaches do for their athletes year in and year out is way more important.

I do appreciate this conversation and will do my best to highlight other coaches out there doing great work with schools that may not be as well known.

Anonymous said...

You are spot on Albert. It’s not all about the podium and so much more that goes into a successful program. Look at NOP. They had success in the terms of medals & records but not one I would say is a successful program. Winning hides a lot of flaws.

I don’t know if you’ve interviewed them but how about the Andrew Hill coach? He had two champions in the last decade that are arguably some of the best the past decade but in my opinion were overlooked for being a minority in East San Jose. Another coach you could interview is the King City Coach. They beat Scotts Valley at section but not much publicity. Yes SV rebounded at state but that was an amazing team and they’ve been good for awhile.

Albert Caruana said...

I will take nominations. I reach out to many coaches and athletes but not everybody replies to my emails. I have the coaches you mentioned on my list and if anybody else has other coaches and/or athletes that you would like for me to interview, please feel free to list them here or reach out to me at albertjcaruana@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone name a coach who moved from a school/community of privilege to one of lower socioeconomic status and high minority that built that program up to be a top ranked team?

Anonymous said...

Tim Hunter at Janes Logan is well on his way.

Brian Gunn said...

According to publicschoolreview.com, a majority of students receive free or reduced lunch. Yet, the team has a tradition of excellence. In 2018, the team took first place in D3, and last year, it took 12th despite moving up to D2.

Watching the Ridgeview boys on the podium in 2018, I was impressed with the way they conducted themselves and how they treated the runner's-up, Campolindo.

I do not know anything about coach Daniel Seddiqui but I suspect that he deserves a lot of credit and would love to see an interview of him.


Anonymous said...

Now that the Central Section is considered NorCal, which Central Section schools might be included in this list?

Albert Caruana said...

The sections that I have always included in my NorCal rankings are NS, SJS, NCS, CCS, OAK, and SF. I believe these are the sections that have been used in the past for any NorCal races and/or rankings. To add the Central Section would make that 7 sections and then I might as well just rank the whole state.

R Gowen said...

McFarland is the classic example of a team that meets the criteria being discussed.

With that said this is also a a public/private conversation as the public schools can only find runners/athletes within their school/district boundaries.

And the way this particular list is constructed it ignores school enrollment (best teams in NorCal, not by division - an interesting and legitimate post by the way) - the larger schools often have so many kids coming out for XC that they can't handle them all. That's a luxury smaller schools can only dream of - I competed (last century of course) on a team (Jefferson in Daly City) where we all fit in a parent's van and the coach's VW wagon and we rarely fielded complete teams. By the time we got out of the NPL and faced off against the WCAL teams, it was always the end of the season except for the individual qualifiers... This was before school size factored in post season events.

Albert Caruana said...

Aside from McFarland, there have been other similar schools that have had success at the state meet like Barstow, Don Lugo, Ridgeview, etc. Additionally, if you look at many of the top programs in the state, they are usually public schools. The exception to this rule is in Division V which is where most of the small private schools reside.

Anonymous said...

When is the last time those teams made the podium or even state for that matter? The state meet was a bit different in the 80’s & 90’s compared to today. All it shows is the economic divide is getting worse. These schools have no shot against the wealthy Clovis schools.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that those of you who have enjoyed success year after year after year cannot understand ALL factors that contribute to that success. Yes it takes good coaching - great coaching to create and maintain a top rated state program. And it takes athletes who are dedicated to the sport and work hard and run fast. Is that it? It doesn't matter what the socioeconomic makeup of these schools and their communities are? Really? Everyone does know that the school population is where your cross country team comes from, right? And the community and parent involvement is where much of the athlete's support system comes from too. Am I wrong to think this also is a crucial factor to a team's success? That cross country greatness is just having a 'great coach' and nothing else? A comment above said that many of the top programs in the state are public schools. I took that to imply that private schools don't have an advantage over public schools - look at all the top programs - all from your everyday run of the mill California public schools. Like Great Oak, Dana Hills, La Costa Canyon, Buchanan, Newbury Park, Dublin, Campolindo, and so forth. All just public schools with great coaches that are state ranked year after year after year. Nothing else noteworthy about them . . . except that none of them are schools with disadvantaged student populations and communities. The state AVERAGE hovers around 60%, but that doesn't matter, right? A school with a socioeconomic disadvantaged population of 10% or 20% is no different than a school that is 80%. And every school - public and private, boys and girls - on the top 10 NorCal list posted here is a school without a disadvantaged student population to pull a cross country team from year after year after year. I am not saying that these schools don't deserve to be ranked - they do - but let's be honest as to why they are successful year after year after year.


Albert Caruana said...

You make valid points and I am not sure to dispute those points.

I will however stick to my original statement that the most important piece to a successful team is the coach. How did Dublin do before Chris Williams? How did Newbury Park do before Sean Brosnan? Campolindo had Chris Walsh before Chuck Woolridge who was a very good coach with a lot of success. What about La Costa Canyon before Bill Vice? How has Nordhoff done since Ken Reeves left?

Anonymous said...

You are spot on. Sadly I think it is human nature to live in a bubble. It’s why systematic racism is what it is. If you are white and never experienced racism it must not be a problem right? You’ve never struggled financially so those who are homeless and hungry are just lazy right? COVID hasn’t hit me personally so everyone is over reacting right?

I don’t think most coaches are dismissive on purpose, I think they are just dealing with their reality and it’s hard to imagine what you don’t know. If you coach at Bellarmine, Jesuit, Campolindo, Buchanan you don’t *really* know what it’s like.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it takes a great coach to make a state ranked team. An 'advantaged' school is not going to automatically achieve that level of success without one, and there are many examples of this - Nordhoff is a good one to site. But every school you mentioned IS ADVANTAGED. Where are your examples of great coaches at impoverished schools that have created state ranked teams year after year after year? Are you suggesting ALL disadvantaged schools have no great coaches - not a single one? Or could it be that they would be great on a state ranked basis IF they were at an advantaged school?

My point is this - the most important piece to a successful team (state level, not just locally) is to coach at a school that has economic advantages to begin with. THEN it takes a great coach to use those advantages correctly (not all coaches do). Do you really think any coach you mentioned would have the same level of success at my school, with an economically disadvantaged population over 80%, a dirt track full of weeds half the time, very few places to train on other than roads, and very little support from administration or the community? They would be fools to come here to coach.

Anonymous said...

@4:59. They wouldn’t be a fool and neither are you. Everyone deserves opportunity to run, even more so those who are disadvantaged. I can’t think of a community in Northern California that has had post HS success as much as Salinas, a low income-high minority community. Numerous marathon qualifiers, a sub 4 miler and all-Americans. Yet no high school state titles, CCS champion teams. As you said nothing is equitable but just because you don’t win a section title or get on the state podium doesn’t mean your impact is not there. Sadly most times people only focus on winning as success when reality is that winning hides a lot of faults.

Anonymous said...

In response to the question: "When is the last time those teams made the podium or even state for that matter? The state meet was a bit different in the 80’s & 90’s compared to today. All it shows is the economic divide is getting worse. These schools have no shot against the wealthy Clovis schools." Ridegview was 6th in 2017, first in 2018, and 12th in 2019 (after moving up to DII). Look at the results from State, every year several schools from poor school districts are in the top ten.


In response to the comments "let's be honest as to why [the schools on the top 10 list] they are successful year after year after year...

Year after year, the top 10 teams have outperformed similar schools in their league, section, and State. For that, they should be proud and do not deserve an asterisk next to their accomplishments.



Anonymous said...

For the person(s) pushing the advantaged vs disadvantaged argument, what's your point really? We get it. Not like this is the first time this discussion has come up on this site, let alone elsewhere. But what exactly are you advocating? Should there be an "advantaged school" state championship and a "disadvantaged school" one? I don't minimize the advantages that wealthier communities have in certain, maybe all, sports, but I really would like to know what your goal is by continually hammering on this point on a cross country website? My own view is that the league competitions are pretty good approximations for grouping by demographics. And winning a league championship is a big deal. After that, it gets less and less "balanced." But we either do away with sectional and state championship races entirely, we hold them in different demographic divisions, or we accept that there are rankings and champions among schools that have different demographics. Or do you have another idea?

Coach Ozzie said...

Albert and I talked quite a bit about this thread when the comments started. Where it's hardly debatable that socio-economically advantaged schools are also athletically advantaged and the points that people have brought up all play roles in those advantages, I feel like there are a few points that have thus far gone unmentioned. First, living in the Bay Area, there are a lot more socio-economically advantaged schools than disadvantaged schools. That's not to say that all of the schools are that way, not by a long shot, but there are more schools in good shape than bad shape. There are 11 schools in the EBAL (9 public and then De La Salle and Carondelet) and all of them are comprised of students who are mostly well off. The DAL, just north of the EBAL has 13 member schools and maybe 2 of them are from a lower socio-economic category than the rest. I agree that there are still a disproportionate number of socio-economically advantaged schools in the rankings (100% as of this ranking), but there really aren't that many disadvantaged schools to pick from in this area.

Of the schools in Northern California that are socio-economically disadvantaged, many are suffering from other disadvantages as well. First, many of them are located in the middle of cities where it is harder to find adequate training grounds. I understand that the school facilities at these schools are inferior to those of rich schools, but I am also referring to the surrounding areas where people might get most of their mileage. Schools in the middle of San Jose, Oakland, or San Francisco would not have all have good training options even if they had greater financial means. There are days when I complain about the lack of variety that we have at Amador Valley, but the reality is that we have everything we need and if it's not runnable from school, we can meet at certain locations on a Saturday or this year...any day since they are all coming to workouts from their homes.

Many of the socio-economically disadvantaged schools that are farther north don't have the disadvantage of city life, but they are small schools. In a ranking like this that does not take school size into account, being a small school is a huge disadvantage. At Amador Valley, we have over 2700 students who could come out for the cross country team. I don't think any teams in the Northern Section have that many students. The schools listed in these rankings are almost all large, private, or both. Public vs. private matters in this discussion because if a school has a reputation for having a good cross country program, it can pull good runners from a wide area (this is not an accusation of impropriety as this happens all the time within the rules). The only schools on this listing that aren't at least in Division 2 are Campo (boys and girls), the school formerly known as Drake, Del Oro, and Menlo. Menlo is private. Del Oro is very good and has had some very good teams, but is not a perennial power (yet).

Finally, schools gain extra advantage from being located near and competing against other large and successful schools. I love that the EBAL has so many good teams in it because although it has become much harder to win, the definition of what is good has constantly changed since I started coaching in 2006. Marks that used to drop jaws have become normalized and when that happens, things that were once thought to be extraordinary, become attainable. Athletes in all of our programs see really good athletes every time we compete, but when we see each other, we aren't talking about watching how good they are, we are talking about how to beat them. These programs make each other better.

With all of that said, I do think it is easier to create a successful program in a socio-economically advantaged environment. I just don't think that finances are the only factors that separate those highly ranked programs from others.

Anonymous said...

@10:56 Ridgeview is a low income 'poor' school (you used the word 'poor' in your comments; the school has a 69% socioeconomic disadvantaged student population) down in Bakersfield in the Central Section, and I congratulate them on their success at state and would never put an asterisk on them - not sure why you feel anyone would - I certainly wouldn't. I watched them run a couple of times in 2018 at Woodward Park and was impressed. In fact, I used them as an example to my boys team on how a team should run in a race. However, context is important. Ridgeview has a student enrollment of over 2500. And they competed in D3 in 2017 and 2018. No school up here in the NorCal area over 2500 competes in D3. Likely schools are put in D1 with enrollment numbers over 2500. How would the Ridgeview boys have done if they had run in D1 instead of D3 those years? Their 2018 team would have made the top 10 in D1 - and again I would have congratulated them on doing so. But how they would have finished in 2017 and in 2019 running in D1 competition is less clear. The point is that it is very difficult to maintain a team at the top over many years. Yet some schools manage to do this very thing. The question then is WHY? Why do some schools do this and some don't? Why do the top 10 teams year after year outperform similar schools as you stated? Because not all schools are SIMILAR in the section and in state competitions. Their enrollments may be similar (even that is not really true at the state level), but that's the only thing that puts them in a particular division (except in the Central Section).

Albert believes that the coach is the most important piece as to why a team has state ranking 'success'. I believe the student population and community that a team draws from is the most important piece. He and I will have to agree to disagree. Still, my belief is based on evidence - no 'poor' team is ranked in Albert's NorCal Top 10 and I do not see many if any 'poor' teams that are in the top state rankings year after year after year. It still takes a great coach to achieve that level of success, but without a consistently advantaged student population and supportive community to draw from, maintaining a state ranked team can't happen for 'poor' schools - there just is not enough there to 'reload' with over many years. I will use Ridgeview as the example. How many years were they state ranked? You had some studs in 2018 - did you reload with other studs after they graduated?
Are you state ranked this year?

Anonymous said...

@3:51 PM. It is called competitive equity.

Anonymous said...

@3:51. The conversation began as a conversation during BLM. It was nothing more than a discussion on equity as all ranked teams are socioeconomicly advsntaged. It is nothing more than a conversation. One that is uncomfortable but needed to be a better society. Simply ignoring inequality is part of why we are where we are.

Anonymous said...

@6:09PM and @7:53PM. The conversation began as a discussion of NorCal rankings, and you crashed the party with your sniping about advantaged schools. I'm not ignoring it and I don't find it uncomfortable at all, and it has been the subject of MUCH discussion on this site and elsewhere so your smug preaching isn't bringing light to the unwashed masses like you seem to think it is. Believe it or not, most if not all of us on here agree with you that wealthier schools have inherent advantages that matter in cross country. But every time someone says something positive about a strong program or a successful coach, you guys/gals get on your soapboxes and dismiss the success with a flippant "so what, they are at a wealthier school." That's unfair to the kids who work their butts off to achieve the success that they have, even if they come from a middle class or upper class family. It also implicitly tells the kids from disadvantaged schools that the deck is so stacked against them (in cross country and track!) that they shouldn't even try. Guess what, I bet the runners at King City, with its 80% "disadvantaged" school population but last year's CCS D4 boys champions over schools like Scotts Valley and Menlo School, would be surprised to hear that they shouldn't bother. And if you think it's only about competitive equity, I'd be willing to bet that those boys and their coaches would take the opportunity to compete against the "rich" schools every time over giving them the option to be CCS champions (all divisions) of the "disadvantaged" schools.

Anonymous said...

Now that I have had 3 of my 4 kids go through XC across 2 different HS teams, I would have to say Coaching is the big difference in the success of one program over another. Its not just a history of success, but a Coach who is willing to listen to feedback and not have every decision go through them. Delegate responsibilities to assistant coaches, and not single out the star runners over others. My kids who have graduated, continue to join this team on their annual alumni runs. Good discussion.

Anonymous said...

If most of us can acknowledge that an inequity exists, then let's find a reasonable solution.
1. Leagues remain the same.
2. Sections determine divisional placements, usually by CBEDS from the previous year with some exceptions that are already in section bylaws.
3. Schools that are designated as Title I schools for the current year have the option of dropping one division for playoffs. They also can stay where they were placed, or even move up if they choose to. This should be done before the season begins.
4. If a Title I school opts to drop down, and ends up winning a section title or podiums at state, then they must remain where their section places them for the next three years. If they do not win a section title or podium at state, then they can continue to opt to go down as long as they remain a Title I school.
5. After the three years are up, and if the school did not win a section title or made the podium at state in their normal divisional placement, the process can begin again if they remain a Title I school.
It's not a perfect fix and would need some tweaking, but it is a start to address the imbalance.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t that the purpose of the open division? If they had that in XC all the top tiered schools face each other. As they should. But a school like SI that dominates D3 in CCS would never make it out of section. Which to me they are more of a D1 school than say independence. Which is why we have this problem.

Anonymous said...

Getting away from the disadvantaged/advantaged debate, I'd like to know how many coaches are able to actually go to their feeder schools and meet with the incoming frosh? How many skirt that with club teams they coach? How many have an assistant or former coach who really encourages XC? Or how many say what the heck, and talk to the younger kids any chance they get regardless of the rules in place regarding recruitment? Nearly everyone puts anonymous here anyway, so we won't know who you are.

Albert Caruana said...

Well, I am never anonymous and will answer your question. I follow the rules and I am in a tricky situation since my school also has a middle school. The rule of contacting 8th graders has changed a bit over the past few years so I always check with the CCS office to make sure I am not doing anything that could be deemed as illegal.

Anonymous said...

Never recruited and never will, though many of my athletes have been recruited and even encouraged to transfer by both private & public schools. Personally recruiting at my school is hard enough.

Coach Ozzie said...

I need a break from re-writing my course syllabus to make sense for distance learning, so I'll answer this question. I never go to my feeder schools to meet with incoming freshmen, but the high schools in Pleasanton have an opportunity to go to those schools toward the end of a normal school year and explain the different opportunities available to rising freshmen. I always have a couple of track and cross country athletes attend that and pump up our program. In addition, all 3 middle schools (which feed into two high schools, Amador Valley and Foothill) have cross country and track teams. Sometimes it seems like those programs have revolving door coaches and sometimes they are around a while. The programs are very recreational (3 practices per week, not too serious), but a lot of kids do it. The high school coaches have nothing to do with the administration of those teams, but the coaches usually promote the high school programs. They don't promote one over the other or try to guide students to a particular school (our district is pretty good about not allowing that kind of thing anyway), but just try to keep them in the sport. We are a big enough school that lots of freshmen come out for track anyway. Our classes in cross country have been inconsistent, but we've had plenty of talented kids find their way onto our roster without our staff having to influence them there. It is usually the current athletes on the team that tell me about who the good up and coming freshmen are and I meet them when they arrive. I'm not saying it never happens and I may be naive, but I think impermissible recruiting is less common than it is made out to be.

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