Wednesday, July 07, 2010

2010 NCS Division V Pre-Season Rankings

The most competitive division at the state level for NCS takes a couple of hits on the boys' side and gains a state meet berth on the girls' side.  With the controversial passing of the following policy, the University boys (11 time champions) will now compete in Division IV this coming season (possibly beyond 2010 as well if they keep winning).

Any school who participates in the NCS Championship contest, finishing first in the respective classification or division, for three years in succession will automatically be moved to the next higher classification or division the following school year of competition.  The school may return to the actual classification or division of enrollment after at least one year of competition at the higher classification or division once the school does not participate in the NCS Championship contest, finishing first.

Now, the section that had 4 teams in the top 10 at the state meet in 2007/2008 and 2 in the top 10 in 2009 will be hard pressed to place one team into the top 10 this coming season.  As stated above, UHS will now reside in Division IV and Redwood Christian (the other top 10 team) is decimated by graduation.  In the history of Division V, which dates back to 1996, only four teams have won a team championship (University-11, College Prep-1, St. Joseph-1 and St. Mary's-1).  It now appears a fifth team will join that list.

The question now is who will it be?  At this point of the year, it appears that the Urban School of SF has the best chance to claim their first section title.  They return the best runner in this division, Cole Williams, who emerged during the Track and Field season by qualifying for the state meet in the 800m. running 1:54.01.  His teammates, fellow senior Sean Judkins-Boeri, finished in 9th place with a solid 16:28 time at Hayward HS and 3rd man Alex Wu (17:18 also at Hayward) gives them a solid top 3.

Chasing Urban will be another San Francisco school, last year's 3rd place finishers, Stuart Hall.  They return 5 out of their top 7 from last year's team that qualified to the state meet (first time in the 10th year existence of their school).  St. Joseph's of Alameda has bounced back and forth between IV and V in the past few years but when they have been in this division, they have been competitive and usually qualified for the state meet.  The rest of the challengers will be the usual array of BCL teams which includes College Prep, Lick Wilmerding and Marin Academy.

The battle for the individual title starts and ends with Williams of Urban.  Along with his track and field accolades, Cole finished in 2nd place last year at the NCS MOC cross country meet.  His chief rival, Ned Tannenbuam of UHS, who finished 3rd and 7 seconds behind Cole will be racing in Division IV.  That leaves his teammate Judkins-Boeri and Ben Liu of Stuart Hall as his closest pursuers and it's not close at this point.

Unlike the boys, the girls' race at NCS will field some of the heavy hitters at the state level.  Last year's NCS final was an epic battle between the University and College Prep girls that resulted in a 43 to 44 UHS victory.  UHS went on to record their 7th state title with CPS also claiming a podium spot by finishing in 3rd place.  This year's race should yield another great race between the two teams and it's really difficult to pick a winner.  University has the best 1-2 punch in state with Jennie Callan and Holland Reynolds.  College Prep has their own dynamic duo with Kai Wilson and Adrienne Strait.  Both teams will need to find a replacement for their consistent 3rd runners (Margaret Wehner for UHS and Emily Erickson for CPS).

The next two teams in line will be BCL West competitors Marin Academy and Lick Wilmerding.  Marin outdistanced Lick at NCS but Lick reversed that order at the state meet with a 5th place finish to Marin's 7th place.  Marin has the defending section and state champion in Lucy McCullough with Lick returning a strong trio of juniors (Rachel Prensky-Pomeranz, Lucia Calthorpe and Sara Peletz).  Missing the state meet by one spot was Sonoma Academy last year but with NCS getting 5 teams to state this year, the young Sonoma team could make their first trip to the state meet under the tutelage of former Maria Carrillo coach Dan Aldridge.

The individual race should be just as competitive as the team race.  Although McCullough is the 3 time defending section champion, Callan seems to have closed the gap with a spectacular freshman season around the oval running 5:02.50 at the NCS MOC 1600 final.  Her teammate Holland Reynolds finished 2nd at NCS last year and recorded one of the fastest times on the Crystal Springs course last year with an 18:11.5 clocking.  CPS teammates Strait and Wilson are also in the mix as is last year's 5th place finisher, Kate Courtney of Branson.

Division V Boys (Top 5 Advance to state)
1) Urban-Could this be their first section title?
2) Stuart Hall-Ben Liu leads the way here.
3) St. Joseph Notre Dame-Secured last state meet berth last year.  Higher up this year.
4) College Prep-A consistent contender in this division.
5) Lick Wilmerding-Will need to show improvement to hold this spot.
On the bubble:  Marin AcademyRedwood Christian

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2009 NCS meet time:
Cole Williams (2) Urban 15:57
Sean Judkins-Boeri (9) Urban 16:28
Ben Liu (11) Stuart Hall 16:33
Benjamin Rainero-de Haan (18) International HS 16:58
Jacob Huemoeller (19) Redwood Christian 17:04

Division V Girls (Top 5 Advance to state)
1) University-In position to reclaim the NCS crown.
2) College Prep-Can they put five together to challenge top two
3) Lick Wilmerding-Good group returns from last year.
4) Marin Academy-Defending NCS champions.
5) Sonoma Academy-First state meet team appearance on the horizon?
On the bubble: UrbanSanta Rosa Christian

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2009 NCS meet time:
Lucy McCullough (1) Marin Academy 17:47
Holland Reynolds (2) University 18:06
Jennie Callan (3) University 18:07
Adrienne Strait (4) College Prep 18:36
Kate Courtney (5) Branson 18:43

Please feel free to chime in on the rankings above. I won't be offended if you strongly disagree as the above rankings are meant to be a launching pad for conversation. Fortunately section titles and state meet berths are decided by the runners themselves. Did I miss any teams or individuals? Any other impact freshmen that we should know about?

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