Saturday, July 04, 2009

Pre-Season CCS Division I rankings by Kevin Liao...


Carlmont shocked all the pundits and form charts with its victory over pre-race favorites Bellarmine and Salinas at the 2008 CCS meet. The Scots, led by a number of sophomores and juniors a year ago, head into the 2009 cross country season as the favorite to claim their fifth consecutive Division I team title. Surprise individual champion Ethan Scardina missed track season with a stress fracture but will return with vengeance along with standout seniors Nathan Lee (1:57 800, 4:25 1600 this past track season) and Benjamin Heck. The dismissal of Jeff Gilkey opens up the coaching position at Carlmont, leaving many questions about the future of the program.

Bellarmine loses three of their top five runners, but will likely remain contenders with the presence of junior Kyle Rae (4:23 1600, 7th at CCS finals) and senior Dalton Guthrie. Coach Patrick McCrystle's ability to field large-sized teams gives the Bells a tremendous talent pool to scout for new talent.

Salinas, with four returning runners under 17 minutes at Toro Park, Serra, and San Benito should also be in the mix for one of the two spots to go to state.

Top 5 Teams (Top 2 advance to state)

  1. Carlmont – Will new coach be able to take advantage of four returning scorers?
  2. Bellarmine – How will the Bells recover from loss of top runners?
  3. Salinas – Returns a number of juniors in the 16s at Toro
  4. Serra – Top three runners are back, but need underclassmen to step up spots 4-7
  5. San Benito – Lose top two, but Balers have traditionally strong teams

Watch out for: Monta Vista, Gilroy, Evergreen Valley

David Perez of Salinas will be the main challenger to defending champ Scardina for the individual crown. Perez was 11th at CCS last season, ran an exceptional early season 15:46 at Woodward Park, and was a 1:57 half miler during track. His known speed at the end of a race will make him a factor over the ladder stages of a race. The other returning individual state meet qualifier is Monta Vista's Kranti Peddada. As a junior, Peddada ran 16:01 at Crystal Springs and 9:45 over 3200 meters during the track season.

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2008 CCS meet time:

  1. Ethan Scardina (1) Carlmont 16:08
  2. Kranti Peddada (4) Monta Vista 16:25
  3. Nathan Lee (7) Carlmont 16:34
  4. Benjamin Heck (8) Carlmont 16:36
  5. Dalton Guthrie (9) Bellarmine 16:45

Just losing Stanford-bound Justine Fedronic, the Carlmont girls team is a solid favorite for to take its fifth straight CCS Division I championship. Jessie Petersen was 2nd at CCS and should be a contender at the state meet with her 9th place finish there last year. Petersen capped off a great sophomore year with a 10:51 3200 meters to win her second CCS track title. Seniors Abby Barker (11:22 for 3200m) and Georgia Cottong (19:33 at Crystal Springs) should also be important contributors to Carlmont's success.

Gilroy also returns four of their five scorers from its second place team in 2008, when the Mustangs only trailed Carlmont by only six points at the CCS meet. Like Carlmont, Gilroy loses their number one runner, Kathleen Miller, but return seniors Brandie Rodriguez and Patricia Hernandez and sophomores Savannah Silacci and Athena Alarcon.

Two other major contenders for the top two spots advancing to the state meet are Evergreen Valley and San Benito. Sophomore Samantha Garcia leads the Cougars, who finished fourth in Division I a year ago and return their top four runners. Garcia emerged as one of the best in the CCS with a 11:14 3200 meters for an upset win at the BVAL track finals. San Benito loses CCS 1600m champ Courtney Allen, but will be led in 2009 by Rachel Shimabukuro, a 11:33 runner on the track over 3200 meters.

Top 5 Teams (Top 2 advance to state)

  1. Carlmont – Does a coaching change impact the Scots' dominance?
  2. Gilroy – Can the Mustangs upset Carlmont without a definite #1 runner?
  3. Evergreen Valley – Need improve from #3-5 runners to move up
  4. San Benito – Will contend for state spot if back-end runners improve
  5. Salinas – Returns four of five scorers, but needs big improvement

Watch out for: Monta Vista, Piedmont Hills, Homestead

Petersen is the consensus favorite for the individual championship, but a number of runners will be contending for the five individual spots to state. Dari Salvador of Alisal is the top returning individual state qualifier. Another runner to watch out for is Salinas's Kelsey Palassou. The senior ran a very impressive 19:50 at Toro Park last year, but struggled in the heat at CCS finals and did not advance to the state meet.

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2008 CCS meet time:

  1. Jessie Petersen (2) Carlmont 18:43
  2. Dari Salvador (5) Alisal 19:37
  3. Abby Barker (7) Carlmont 19:51
  4. Rachel Shimabukuro (8) San Benito 19:59
  5. Samantha Garcia (9) Evergreen Valley 20:00
One side note in this division is that Gunn HS might be moving into Division I due to CCS Divisional realignment. That is not confirmed yet but if this indeed takes place, an update of the above rankings will be posted.

Please feel free to comment on the above rankings. A big thank you to Kevin's work on the pre-season rankings.


Anonymous said...

Gunn is going to move up?? Carlmont/Gunn showdown would be intense... Gunn had a super track season!

We will see how losing Gilkey will impact Carlmont...

On a side note, shouldn't Georgia Cottong be a lot faster? She ran one of the top times in the CCS/state last track season but never really approached that time again (sub 5!).

Anonymous said...

is there a pre season ccs divison 2,3 rankings?

Albert Caruana said...

Will get those out in the next week or so as well as Division IV and V.

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