Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CCS Pre-Season Rankings Division IV '08

My coaching history includes a coaching stint (basketball) in this division when I was an assistant coach at Half Moon Bay HS in the mid 90s. I am very familiar with this division as the majority of the teams are long time members such as HMB, Palma, Carmel, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Pacific Grove.

The best boys' team returning this year will be Palma HS. following their 2nd place finish last year in CCS behind a senior loaded King City team. Palma returns their top 6 including the defending CCS champion, Tyre Johnson (15:08), which means they should be starting out their team score with a possible 1. They will also get to race the section race at Toro Park which should be to their advantage.

Their closest pursuers should be Carmel HS, a consistent threat in this division. Carmel has not only done well in the section but at the state level as well including a state title in 2003 (3rd in 2001, 4th in 2002, 1st in 2003 and 2nd in 2004). Carmel returns 5 out of their top 7 including their 2-4 runners who all have the potential to run under 17 minutes on the Toro Park course.

The battle for the final state meet berth should come down to the following teams. Half Moon Bay has a very strong front runner in Bryce Williamson as well as a great middle school feeder program which could shortly be tapped out following the retirement of their long time coach, Howard Clemente. San Lorenzo Valley and King City have been strong performers consistently in this division and looking at their track results should be contenders here as well.

The battle for the individual title starts and ends with Palma's Tyre Johnson. He is the defending champion as he posted an impressive 15:08 in a solo effort at last year's CCS championship race. His closest pursuer and 2nd place finisher from last year is Brennan Lynch of Santa Cruz. Lynch posted some impressive times during track season but there is some ground to be made up to challenge Johnson.

The girls' favorite will be the defending champions, Carmel HS who like their male counterparts have done well at the CCS and state levels. Carmel's victory last year was not an easy one as 6 points separated the top four teams. They just edged 2nd place Valley Christian SJ (81-82) last year but VC will be testing the waters at the Division III level this coming season. Carmel will return two very strong runners (Melanie Hong and Jessica Fenton) who both were in the very low 19s on the Crystal Springs course last year.

Carmel's challengers should include Santa Cruz who return their own dynamic duo (Tanya Naranjo and Elle Sanders) but will need help from their supporting cast. San Lorenzo Valley has been a major contender for the past decade in Divisions III and IV and despite some key losses should contend here as well. Kings Academy and their talented 800 runner (Priya Pappu) and Half Moon Bay with the individual title favorite, Samantha Hamilton, should also be in the mix.

As just previously mentioned, the individual favorite will be Hamilton of Half Moon Bay. Her road to the title improved immensely as the defending champion, Jennifer Bergman of Valley Christian SJ, will now be competing in Division III. Last year's 3rd place finisher, Annie Lee of Robert Louis Stevenson, and Carmel's Melanie Hong appear to be her closest pursuers but as in all girl's races, a talented 9th grader could challenge for an individual title.

Division IV Boys (Top 3 teams advance to state)
1) Palma-Tyre Johnson leads way to possible championship.
2) Carmel-Consistent contender in this division.
3) San Lorenzo Valley-One of several contenders for final state meet berth.
4) King City-Defending champions looking to return to state meet.
5) Half Moon Bay-Will need help from incoming freshmen.
On the bubble: Harker, Greenfield, Harbor

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2007 CCS meet time:
Tyre Johnson
(1) Palma 15:08
Brennan Lynch (2) Santa Cruz 15:50
Alex Wutke (7) Palma 16:32
Allan Hetke (9) SLV 16:37
Aadithya Prakash (11) St. Harker 16:43

Division IV Girls (Top 4 teams advance to state)
1) Carmel-Defending champions looking to repeat.
2) Santa Cruz-Tanya Naranjo will lead the way.
3) San Lorenzo Valley-Can't count them out despite key losses.
4) Kings Academy-Looking for 1st state meet berth (I believe).
5) Half Moon Bay-Incredible string of success in this division.
On the bubble: Harker, Santa Catalina, Notre Dame Salinas

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2007 CCS meet time:
Samantha Hamilton (2) Half Moon Bay 18:02
Annie Lee (3) RLS 18:39
Melanie Hong (5) Carmel 19:02
Jessica Fenton (8) Carmel 19:17
Tanya Naranjo (10) Santa Cruz 19:29

NCS and CCS Division V predictions will be up next. Feel free to comment on the above rankings. Thank you to Walt VanZant for all his team comparison data that you can find at the following link.

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