Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CCS Girls' Division IV preview by Valley Christian SJ coach, Josh Small

Girls' D4
Let me begin by getting on my soap box and stating that it is my personal belief that if the CIF has set enrollment from 501-1250 for Division IV at the State level we as a section should support our smaller schools here in CCS by allowing those with CBED’s in this range to compete in this division so they can represent and compete to the best of their ability at the State Meet. I know there are those who disagree but I believe it would be better to have a larger division and then create equal teams across the three remaining divisions. There is a distinct disadvantage running against schools more than twice your size as the talent pool for runners 4, 5, 6 is much deeper. But there is no use crying over a process that puts smaller schools at a disadvantage, especially at the State level. And despite my complaining, smaller schools rub it in my face and (despite their smaller enrollment size) find ways to win. Take San Lorenzo Valley (SLV) for example, who with an enrollment of 876 could very well be the top team in

Politics aside, this division is strong! Division IV has been represented very well at the State level by schools like SLV, Scotts Valley, Half Moon Bay (HMB), Carmel, and schools who are now in D3: Santa Cruz and Valley Christian. Last year, CCS Schools placed 7th (SLV), 9th (Scotts Valley) and 10th (Half Moon Bay) at the CA state xc meet. The results of these performances have been rewarded with an additional State birth: 4 teams will now advance to the State Championship in 2011!

One of the most successful teams in the CCS over the past 15 years comes from the small mountain community of Felton, CA. Since 1997 SLV has won 8 CCS titles and 4 State Championships. SLV is the defending champion (D4) and the favorite to repeat once again as they return their top 7 runners from last season. SLV very well could be the #1 over-all school in the section but will have to run out of their minds if they want to dethrone Mountain View who has held the #1 ranking the past 3 years. It’s not going to be easy but having Anna Maxwell, who was the top CCS runner at the Section Championship in 2010 and was a footlocker finalist is a great start. She blazed the 1600 in 4:56 and ran 10:29 for the 3200 meters this spring and was the top individual last year at the CCS xc meet by an amazing 20 seconds! She will be supported by Claire MacMillan (5:15, 11:47) and Abby Sherman (2:17, 5:18, 11:48). Additional support will come from a slew of developing runners hanging around the 12 minute range for 2 miles this past track season.

I asked Coach Rob Collins about his team and he couldn’t help but be excited. 30 girls are coming back for this year’s team and only 2 are seniors. After a few rebuilding years it seems as if the machine is back to pumping out national class runners. “As a coach I'm very blessed to have a huge support from the school, parents and especially the community for all their support they have given us which has made this program a lot of fun and will be aiming for our 9th CCS Championship and the big goal our 5th State Championship but there is a lot of great teams we need to overcome first to get to the podium at League, CCS and State,” Coach Rob Collins said.

One might wonder what the Santa Cruz schools have going on over there as with a total population of about 75,000 throughout the Santa Cruz area to draw from four schools (SLV, Scotts Valley, Aptos & Santa Cruz) have realistic shots at going to the State meet. Good coaching, perfect weather, a supportive community, not to mention amazing running trails seem to be the recipe for success.

With all the pre-season hype surrounding SLV, a very big and realistic threat comes from two schools: Half Moon Bay and Scotts Valley. Half Moon Bay is a perennial power. They won the team title in 2009 and finished 3rd last season behind Scotts Valley. They return 6 of their top 8 runners from last season and will be led by Chandra Anderson, Kylie Freeburg and Natalie Strohm, all of whom were hovering in the 20 minute range at Crystal last season.

And their biggest challenge just might come from the school down the street. Scotts Valley is last year’s runner-up and they will be led by Vanessa Fraser who finished second over-all last season and coming off a superb 10:37 in the 3200 meters at the State Track Championships. Scotts Valley returns 4 of their top 5 from last year’s state meet is rumored that their #2 runner Abby Attic moved out of the area.  Still, Scotts Valley has to be considered a threat and a favorite to return to Woodward Park this fall, and maybe even pull off an upset.

The battle for a top 4 position and the final state qualifying spot will be fierce as Sacred Heart Prep (4th) and Notre Dame Salinas (5th) were separated by just one point (129-130) last season. Notre Dame is led by standout Nina Anderson but will need to add depth to the #4 and #5 positions. SHP returns 5 of their top 7 from last season.

In the individual race, two of the top individuals in the CCS will go at it again: Anna Maxwell of SLV and Vanessa Fraser of Scotts Valley. Expect Nina Anderson to also be in the mix as she came on strong at the end of both cross country and track and field seasons.

DIV. 4 GIRLS: Team Pre-Season Rankings
1.  San Lorenzo Valley
2.  Scotts Valley
3.  Half Moon Bay
4.  Sacred Heart Prep
5.  Notre Dame Salinas

DIV. 4 GIRLS: Top Returning Individuals
1.  Anna Maxwell, SLV
2.  Vanessa Fraser, Scotts Valley (picture courtesy of Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel)
3.  Nina Anderson, Notre Dame
4.  Maddie Price, Menlo (photo courtesy of SM Daily Journal)
5.  Katie Alioto, Soquel (photo courtesy of Larissa Mueller/Sentinel)
6.  Abby Sherman, SLV (photo courtesy of Margaret Gallagher/sportsimagewire.com)

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