Wednesday, July 06, 2011

2011 NCS Division II pre-season rankings

Summer cross country pre-season rankings could be disputed and second guessed but what cannot be questioned is that Division II will be highly competitive this coming season with the addition of several schools from other divisions.  College Park and Maria Carrillo have been quality programs that have amassed 18 section titles in the past decade (12 for College Park and 6 for Maria Carrillo).  Dougherty Valley is an up and coming program that just two years ago won a section title in girls' Division IV and now lands in Division II after competing in Division III last season.  You add those three schools along with Newark Memorial (drops down from Division I) to the usual suspects in Division II and this year will be quite a challenge for all the competing teams to at the very last qualify for the state meet (top 3 for both boys and girls).

The pursuit for the boys' NCS team title will definitely have a different look with the new teams added to this division. What could be quite similar is the section champions.  San Ramon Valley steamrolled the rest of the competition by scoring 28 points to win their second consecutive title.   Last year's championship may have been a bit of a surprise as they had to replace 5 of the top 7 from their 2009 Division I championship team.  This year they return 6 of their top 7 from last year's team which includes the defending individual section champion, Parker Deuel.  He finished the track and field season on the disabled list but not before running 4:20.52 and 9:48.18.  Junior Matt Devries finished 4th last year in the section xc meet and ran 4:26.66 in the 1600m.  Fellow juniors Zach Hanze (4:37.23/9:56.29) and Carl Wilke (4:40.40/10:05.50) and seniors Nicco Baumann (2:03.98/4:51.30/10:17.21) and Brian Hardy (1:59.04/4:20.90/10/07.90) give the Wolves quite a lineup and will be the overwhelming favorites going into next season.

The competition for second place should be between Maria Carrillo and Alameda.  MC finished 6th last year in the uber competitive Division III race.  They return 5 of their top 7 and at this point are slight favorites over Alameda.  Senior Austin Rivas was their 2nd man last year running 16:30 on the Hayward course and recorded a pr of 4:43.79 on the track.  The rest of their lineup includes sophomore Dante Hay who was impressive in his freshman season on the track running 1:57.26 and 4:33.33 and junior Harrison Luft who recorded a sub 10:00 3200m. effort on the track with a 9:56.71.

Alameda finished 3rd last year with 4 sophomores and a freshman making up their top 5.  Now junior Steven Carlson finished 17th last year on the Hayward course and had an even more impressive track and field season (4:26.26/9:53.94).  Fellow juniors Duc Nguyen (4:47.08/10:00.78), Reece Kamphuis (2:09.57/4:44.60) and Michael Moler and sophomore Cameron Tu (4:45.38) make the Hornets one of the state meet hopefuls and if the stars align correctly for them, they could challenge the teams I mentioned above.

The rest of the top 5 contenders includes Dougherty Valley which returns most of their 2010 lineup including Michael Sisario (4:53.14) and Anoop Gala (4:49.85) that finished in 12th place in the Division III field.  Arroyo will have 4 of their top 6 back including their top 2, 3rd place finisher Adam White (9:46.71) and 16th place finisher Lorenzo Galindo (4:42.24/10:13.16).  To add to this competitive division, you have several wild card teams who could potentially finish in the top 5 but at this point are on the bubble.  College Park finished 2nd last year in Division I but will need to completely overhaul their lineup save for their 5th man Parker Marson (4:45.80).  Mt. Eden finished 2nd here last year and return runners #3 (Emanuel Morales) and #5 (Giovani Perez).  Casa Grande finished 4th here last year and return runners 4-7 (Harrison Wistock, Stanley Goto, Adam Lundquist, Aaron DalPoggetto).  American HS finished 8th last year with a less than healthy lineup so if their core group of seniors return healthy they could be a factor.

The race for the boys' individual title will go through defending champion SRV's Deuel.  His challengers will be similar to last year including 2nd place finisher Ukiah's Paul Holden (4:53.43/9:53.79), 3rd place finisher Arroyo's Adam White and 4th place finisher SRV's Matt DeVries.  Nolan Petersen of Washington HS finished in 7th place last year and ran 10:11.41 on the track.  Other runners in the mix include the already mentioned Zach Henze and Carl Wilke of SRV and Jose Mendoza of Montgomery HS.  Alameda HS teammates Steven Carlson and Duc Nguyen improved during this past track and field season and should finish in the top 10.  Austin Rivas of Maria Carrillo should also be a contender based on his time last year in the Division III race.

The girls' team race should be another interesting one this year with many teams in contention but with needs to shore up holes left by graduated athletes.   Last year, in all my brilliance, I left Washington HS off the final rankings that were included in the section meet program.  So how did Washington do at the NCS MOC meet at the Hayward course?  They won of course!  Congratulations goes to the Huskies runners and coaches and apologies for my sub-par work.  I will try to do a little better this year with my predictions so here we go.

The favorite at this point appears to be the College Park girls.  They finished in 2nd place last year in the always rugged Division I race.  They will be led once again by junior Kendall Stuscavage (2:23.64/5:19.36) who finished in 9th place with a sub 19:00 effort.  They lose their #2 runner Marissa Buckley but will have their #3 runner (Kazune Shidara 2:30.30/5:37.25), #4 runner (Parisa Broomand 5:46.20/11:58.16) and #5 runner (Amelia Lowry) back.  They appear to need another runner to step up as their 5th runner but if you look at their history, this will be a tough team once again in November.

Last year, San Ramon Valley finished a very competitive 2nd to Washington (55 to 66).  They return their #1 runner Elizabeth Hebel who finished in 2nd place running 18:48.  They will also add Christine Bayliss who will be an incoming freshman next year at SRV.  That gives SRV a tough 1/2 punch and considering this is one of the larger schools in Division II on top of being a very good program, there is a very good chance they will reload and compete quite well this coming season.

Maria Carrillo has been a consistent threat in both Divisions II and III.  Since 2004, they won NCS in Division III in 2004, 2008 and 2009 and Division II in 2005.  Their # 1 runner will be junior to be Lauren Kraus who finished in 3rd place in Division III running 18:28 and only losing to the two fastest runners overall in NCS (Carrie Verdon and Grace Orders of Campolindo).  She recorded a personal record 11:05.45 at the always fast Arcadia Invitational.  #2 runner Brynna Thigpen ran 19:39 last year on the Hayward course and recorded a season best 5:21.50 at the NCS Redwood Empire meet.  MC also returns runners #3 through #6 (Kelly Birkland, Gretel Petrie, Sophia Ramos and Trixi Scolari at SRHS now).

Last year's section race had quite a gap between the 3rd place team Carondelet (76) and the 4th place team Clayton Valley (135).  I believe that this year's pursuit of the last state meet spot (3rd) will be much more competitive.  The teams in position to compete for that last state meet berth are a combination of new teams to this division and teams that have experienced success in this division in previous seasons.  Dougherty Valley returns all 7 from last year's team including an individual state meet qualifier, Isabelle De Metz (2:20.24).  Alameda also returns their top 7 and will be looking to improve their 7th place finish of last year.  Clayton Valley and Casa Grande both finished in the top 5 last year and each have a very strong #1 runners.  Ashley Moffett of Casa Grande won the Division II title last year while Alexandra Tate of Clayton Valley finished in 4th place.  Carondelet will be led by Shelby Vaculan who was the #3 runner for Carondelet and then impressed on the track with a 2:20.73 800m.  Washington returns 3 from their section championship team including 8th place finisher Jessica Yee (2:26.03/5:27.70).

The chase for the individual title should be an interesting one.  When you look at the contenders you always start with the defending champion and that is Moffett of Casa Grande.  The fastest runner from last year's races is Kraus of Maria Carrillo.  The next contenders will be Hebel of SRV who was just 5 seconds behind Moffett in last year's race.  Tate of Clayton Valley has been a consistent top 10 runner in this division as has Amber Peirsol (2:25.54/5:10.95) of Windsor HS.  Yee of Washington and Andrea Morales (2:32.89/5:27.80/12:05.65) of American HS also finished in the top 10 last year.  Stuscavage of College Park and De Metz of Dougherty Valley were both competitive in their respective divisions and should also be considered here.

Division II Boys (Top 3 teams advance to state)
1)  San Ramon Valley-This could be their 3rd NCS title in a row.
2)  Maria Carrillo-Proven cross country program returns to Division II.
3)  Alameda-Young talented team could be dangerous come November.
4)  Dougherty Valley-This team competes in tough DFAL and will be battle tested.
5)  Arroyo-Strong 1/2 punch will need to add depth to their lineup.
On the bubble:  AmericanCasa Grande, College ParkMt. Eden

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2010 NCS meet time:
Parker Deuel (1) San Ramon Valley 15:58
Paul Holden (2) Ukiah 16:17
Adam White (3) Arroyo 16:20
Matt DeVries (4) San Ramon Valley 16:23
Nolan Petersen (7) Washington 16:32
From Division III-Austin Rivas (30) Maria Carrillo 16:30

Division II Girls (Top 3 teams advance to state)
1)  College Park-2nd place last year in tougher Division I race.
2)  San Ramon Valley-Lose 4 of top 7 but don't let that fool you.
3)  Maria Carrillo-Competitive team no matter the division.  
4)  Dougherty Valley-Individual state meet qualifier Isabelle De Metz leads the way.
5)  Alameda-Top 7 return and thinking more than just top 5.

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2010 NCS meet time:
Ashley Moffet (1) Casa Grande 18:43
Elizabeth Hebel (2) San Ramon Valley 18:48
Alexandra Tate (4) Clayton Valley 18:58
Amber Piersol (7) Windsor 19:39
Jessica Yee (8) Washington 19:39
From Division I-Kendall Stuscavage (9) College Park 18:55
From Division III-Lauren Kraus (3) Maria Carrillo 18:28
Isabelle De Metz (14) Dougherty Valley 19:12

Feel free to comment on the above rankings.  Lots of new teams now compete in this division. Did I miss anybody? Any surprises? Freshmen studs and/or studettes?

If your team website has been updated or you have a new link, send it my way ( as well and I will update the link.


Andrew said...

You really hit these nails on the head, Albert. Alameda is a team to watch on both sides, since they were so young last year and ran some impressive marks in track.

Wow, I totally forgot that SRV was that dominant last year, while having to reload after losing 5 guys, and then return that many this year...

When you look at this division and all the teams that are moving up or dropping down in divisions, you really have to consider the conditions of last year's races. D3 had the best conditions and D2 had the worst. So when comparing times, its really difficult to say, for example, Kraus's time is really that much faster than Moffett's.

And thank goodness SRV is not in D1...I would not want our girls to have to deal with Bayliss and Hebel in addition to the Granada girls...

Albert Caruana said...

You are absolutely right about the conditions of the course last year. The athletes that raced first definitely had an advantage so you can't really compare across the board.

We'll just have to see once the racing begins how everybody stacks against each other.

Anonymous said...

Maria Carrillo's Trixi Scolari is now running for Santa Rosa High School, Div 1. (SRHS Athlete)

Anonymous said...

Arroyo in the top 5? They only have a solid 1-2 punch. Besides them, there is nobody else.

American has a better chance of breaking into the top 5 than Arroyo but they will need stronger runners.

Mt. Eden has only 2 people coming back, but they're Fresh/Soph and JV were champs in their league, so I wouldn't count them out.

Not sure about College Park but I believe they can pull through.

Casa Grande can show improvement considering their top 2 returners for next year were only Freshmans.

Maria Carrillo and San Ramon are pretty much the solid top 2. And 3rd place will be hard for Alameda considering Dougherty Valley returns 5 runners.

Goodluck to everybody when season starts!

Anonymous said...

hmm... i'm not so sure about Mt. Eden. their track season was... not too great. they had 1 returner under 5 minutes.

Anonymous said...

On the boys side, SRV looks good on paper but needs to rebound from a disappointing track season - fast early times did not convert to end of season results for them Duel was walking around in a cast at EBAL finals...anyone know if he's running yet? As always, the team the does work in the hot months of summer will shine at Hayward in November.

Individually, look for Nolan Peterson to get health and move up. He's had a hard time on the track but even after mid season appendectomy, he ran really tough at Hayward in the mud and rain (for those of you who don't remember, the course was a mud hole by the time D2 ran) He seems to excel at X-C.

Bayliss is a wild card on the girls side. Some in the east bay have said she is even better than last years EBAL frosh star - Sophie Hartley (D1 / Granada). If so, she could be on the podium individually on the girl side.

The earlier point about comparison of last years time is spot on - I'd say the D3 race ran about 20 - 40 seconds fast than D2 due to conditions. The hills for the D2 race were slick as grease and by the second time around, the track had standing water over mud.

Anonymous said...

Casa Grande's top 2 were SENIORS...their top 3 at NCS last year were seniors and have graduated. And Dougherty Valley's team time from NCS D3 last year is only 4 seconds faster than Alameda's despite the obvious difference in course conditions between the two races that probably helped Dougherty Valley's team time by over 30 seconds as already mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I think he meant Casa Grande's top 2 for next year were only Freshmens last year.

Anonymous said...

Deuel is running. And I'll bet he's coming back with a vengence from a disappointing track season.

Albert Caruana said...

If you post on this blog, please remember that these are high school students that we are talking about here. Comments pertaining to non-running issues that are inappropriate will be deleted.

Thank you very much for your cooperation.

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