Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 NCS Division IV Pre-Season Rankings...

As always, last but definitely not least, my last pre-season predictions will cover Division IV.  The collection of teams in this division remains very similar to last year except for one notable exception on the boys side.  The San Francisco University boys will be taking their act to Division IV this year due to a new NCS by-law that frowns upon dynasties (i.e you win 3 section titles in a row and up you go to the next division).  University won 11 of the last 13 (last 3 in a row) NCS titles in Division V.  According to the former dyestatcal website, UHS would have been the pre-season #1 team in the state in Div. V.

When it comes to the king of the hill in this division, St. Mary's College has been the team to beat the past four years.  They won NCS in 2006, 2007, 2009 and in 2008, they lost to Tamalpais by a point (68 to 69).  This season, their road to another NCS title will be a little more difficult as they graduate their top 3 runners from last year which includes Dan Maxwell who finished 2nd in NCS and 3rd at the state meet.  They do return runners 4-7 (Nate Hill, Stevie Greene, Duncan Calvert and Matt Dull) so before people start to disregard St. Mary's completely, history proves otherwise.

At this point, it looks like a three horse race.  2nd place finisher last year San Rafael, 3rd place finisher Tamalpais and University all return strong teams and I believe one of those teams will win the Division IV crown this season.  If you just look at the team times from last year, does it get any closer than this?
San Rafael 1:23:44
Tamalpais 1:23:44
University 1:23:51
San Rafael returns their top 4 runners from last year's NCS MOC race (Trevor Ehlenbach 1:57.20, 4:30.62 and 10:13.95, Cameron Bronstein, Jack Killion-10:26.35 and Wes Curtis).  Their 7th man at the same meet, Dylan Harris ran 4:26.46 and 9:51.83 this past track season.

Tamalpais returns everybody from last year's team which includes the best runner at the Division IV level in the state of California, Daniel Milechman.  He won NCS last year running 15:07.  He then won the Div. IV state title the following week running 15:37.  He focused on the 1600 during track and ran 4:18.40 and qualified for the state meet for the 2nd year in a row in the event.  Runners 2-5 (David Fuchs, Ned Byrnes, James MacDonald and Alex Olson) will need to close the gap a bit with their front running teammate if they are to have any shot at the title.

Despite competing at the Division IV level for the first time since the inception of the Division V in 1996, University is well armed to do well here.  Following the graduation of most of their section championship team in 2008, UHS won last year's NCS title with junior Ned Tannenbaum and four freshmen.  Without the benefit of research, you would think that is the first time in NCS history that a boys team won a xc section title with 4 freshmen in their top 5.  Here is the list with the top freshmen at the NCS meet last year.  Tannenbaum had a great '09 cross country season, finishing 3rd at NCS and 12th at the state meet.  He just missed qualifying for the state meet in track with his 5th place finish in the 1600 running 4:23.10.

Most of the individual contenders on the boys side have already been mentioned.  The hands down favorite will be the defending champion, Milechman of Tamalpais.  His credentials speak for themselves.  The battle will be for 2nd place and contenders will be Ehlenbach of San Rafael, Tannenbaum of University, Bronstein of San Rafael, Tyler Coley of McKinleyville and Connor Clark of University.  Daniel Maxwell of St. Mary's gave Milechman a pretty good run over the past two seasons but we'll have to see what the margin of victory will be this year.  One runner to watch out for is sophomore John Lawson of Drake.  He finished in 15th place last year as a frosh and just recently finished 9th overall in 100th annual Dipsea race.

The girls' defending team champion, Dougherty Valley, moves up to Division III this year leaving the favorite's mantle to Sir Francis Drake.  The 2nd place finishers last year, Drake returns their top 5 their veteran coach Bill Taylor who has coached many talented runners.  Their front runner for the 3rd straight year should be junior, Ellie Ryan.  Drake's main competition should come from fellow MCAL team, Tamalpais.  They finished in 5th place last year but do return 6 out of their top 7 as well as some newcomers this season.

The rest of the teams will include some of the usual suspects in this division.  Moreau Catholic should rebound from their 7th place finish last year returning one of the best runners in this division, Anika Adeni.  Piedmont was 4th here last year but will have one of their main guns back to lead the way in junior Nicole Peterson.  It's hard to count St. Mary's out considering their recent success (2006-3rd, 2007-1st, 2008-1st and 2009-3rd) but they will have to replace their top 5 runners from last year.

One of the state best runners, Theresa Devine of Marin Catholic will now be taking her running talents to Princeton University next year.  She won the last two section titles in this division as well as a 5th place state meet finish in 2008 and a 2nd place finish last year.  The favorites for the individual title this year will be Adeni of Moreau who finished in 3rd place last year in 19:13, Nicole Lane of El Molino-19:24 in 4th place, Peterson of Piedmont-19:34 for 6th place and Ryan of Drake-19:35 in 7th place.

Division IV Boys (Top 4 Advance to state) GAINS ONE MORE TEAM from 2009
1) San Franciso University-Yes, they are this good.
2) San Rafael-'06-5th, '07-3rd, '08-3rd, '09-2nd, '10-?
3) Tamalpais-Everybody is back for this team.
4) St. Mary's Berkeley-Could break into top 3.
5) Sir Francis Drake-Bill Taylor's 28th year at the helm of the boys.
On the bubble: Moreau CatholicPiedmont

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2009 NCS meet time:
Dan Milechman (1) Tamalpais 15:07
Trevor Ehlenbach (5) San Rafael 15:55
Cameron Bronstein (7) San Rafael 16:11
Tyler Coley (9) McKinleyville 16:29
Alexi Taylor (10 Cardinal Newman 16:35
From Division V
Ned Tannenbaum (3) University 16:04
Connor Clark (7) University 16:24

Division IV Girls (Top 3 Advance to state)
1) Sir Francis Drake-Looking to improve it's 2nd place finish from last year.
2) Tamalpais-Will get many opportunities to race Drake.
3) Moreau Catholic-Might have best runner in this division (Adeni).
4) St. Mary's Berkeley-Will need some freshman help to make state meet.
5) Piedmont-6 out of 7 are back after 2nd place finish last year.
One the bubble: ArcataTerra Linda

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2009 NCS meet time:
Anika Adeni (3) Moreau Catholic 18:55
Nicole Lane (4) El Molino 19:24
Nicole Peterson (6) Piedmont 19:34
Ellie Ryan (7) Drake 19:35
Jenna Joske (9) 19:39

Let me know your thoughts. Did I miss anybody? Who is looking good this summer? Any freshmen that will have an impact in this division? Norcal rankings will be up next.

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