Tuesday, July 03, 2012

2012 NCS Division IV Pre-Season Rankings

So what's in store for 2012?  A couple of high powered additions will have an impact on who wins the team championships (boys and girls).  Piner HS moves down to Division IV after a remarkable season in Division III.  The Piner boys chased Campolindo to a 2nd place finish at the NCS MOC meet and then returned the favor at state by outpointing them by 1 point, earning their first plaque with a 3rd place finish.  The Piner girls finished a very competitive 6th place and had two individual state meet qualifiers (Kyra and Dezirae Johnson).  Chloe Pigg is an incoming freshman at Arcata HS and her credentials are quite impressive (see below).  She joins an already potent Arcata HS team that won the NCS championship last year.

The road to either NCS title (team and individual) on the boys side will  go through Sir Francis Drake HS this coming season.  Drake will be the favorites to win the team title with the best 1/2 punch in this division, John Lawson (4:18.55/9:12.23) and Clayton Hutchins (4:19.88/9:34.84).  They lose a very talented 3rd runner, Will Baker-Robinson (9:29.29), and will need their young runners (Matt Saunders 4:41.06 and Cole Schwartz 4:50.54 and  to step up to win this division.  Drake will once again be led by veteran coach Bill Taylor and Rod Berry, one of the all-time greats in California HS running.  Interestingly, Berry will also be coaching his son this coming season, freshman Kent.

The school challenging for the team title once again will be St. Mary's Berkeley.  They have won the NCS Division IV title 4 times in the past 6 years and finished 2nd both years they didn't win.  They lose their top two runners from last year (Duncan Calvert and Stevie Greene) but chances are they will be reloading to challenge once again.  Leading the way for the Panthers will be senior Patrick Mariolle (2:04.21/4:31.35) who finished in 9th place last year at the NCS MOC XC meet.  Interesting note, St. Mary's coach Jeff Rogers is the school record holder at UC Berkeley with a jump of 7'5 3/4".

When the NCS divisions first came out, one of the biggest changes was Piner HS dropping down to Division IV from Division III.  While Division III teams celebrated about not having to deal with Piner for at least a year, Division IV teams groaned at the prospects of facing another great program in this division.  During the past three seasons, Piner HS finished in 9th place in 2009, 4th place in 2010 and a 2nd in 2011 (3rd at state).  They lose the talented Luis Luna but return their #2 and #3 runners (Jaime Silva-4th in Division III last year and Efren Reyes-9:56.82).  Matt Mulligan (9:58.87) gives Piner 3 strong runners up front and if some of their young runners can step up, Piner could be vying for a team championship here.

Another dangerous team in this division will be Cardinal Newman.  They also lose their #1 runner, Alexi Taylor but return #2-#5 runners as well as their 7th runner.  Veteran coach Pat Lafortune returns to lead the team along with assistant coach Kevin King (Georgetown University Hall of Famer).  Jack Bowlby ran 16:12 on the Hayward course last year and will lead the team this year.  Fellow senior Charlie King (Kevin's son) has a 10:03.26 3200m. PR and will be vying for a top 10 finish at the NCS meet next year.

Just 2 years removed from an improbable state championship, San Rafael will once again be in the hunt for a top spot.  SR coach Jason Jacobson has quietly led one of the most consistent programs in this division.  In a rebuilding year last season, SR finished in 4th place to once again qualify for the state meet.  They have a little more returning this year and will at the very least by fighting for another top 4 finish.  They will be led by senior Joey Morris who finished 6th at last year's NCS MOC XC meet and continue to improve during track by posting 1:58.47/4:28.11/9:56.48 times.  He has top 5 potential as an individual.

The dark horse in this division will be El Molino.  They finished in 8th place last year but return everybody this year and 6 of the 7 runners will be seniors.  They had a very productive track season by posting lots of new personal records.  Seniors Ben Schulz (9:58.39) and Rodrigo Vargas (9:59.54) both dipped under 10 minutes in the 3200m.  Sophomore to be Brady Lane (Nicole's brother) ran an impressive 4:42.92 1600m. during his frosh track season.  Definitely a team to watch.

The race for the individual title has a clear cut favorite.  John Lawson of Drake was the MCAL, NCS and state champion and had a very productive track and field season with new personal records in the 1600 and 3200m.  The road to another championship won't be easy though as Piner's Jaime Silva ran only 4 seconds slower than Lawson in the Division III race last year.  He needs to regain that form in order to contend.  The other contenders will be Drake teammate Clayton Hutchins, Joey Morris of San Rafael, Jack Bowlby of Cardinal Newman, Julian Frost of Piedmont and Patrick Mariolle of St. Mary's Berkeley.

As with the boys, the run to the girls' team title has a prohibitive favorite.  The defending champion, Arcata HS, has the majority of their team back and now add a potential individual titlist in Chloe Pigg.  Her dad Mike was at one point a world class triathlete who finished 2nd at the 1988 Ironman Triathlon.  Arcata returns 6 out of their top 7 from last year and with the addition of Pigg could do some damage at the state meet in Division IV.  Their lead runner last year was freshman Elizabeth Ford who finished 4th and will be the 2nd fastest returning runner in this division.

St. Mary's Berkeley has been a consistent contender in this division with top 4 finishes in the last 7 seasons including NCS championships in 2007 and 2008 (2nd at state both seasons as well).  Their front runner will be last year's 2nd place finisher, junior Spencer Moore (5:07.70/11:25.26).  They return 5 of their top 7 but in order to compete with Arcata, they will need to all collectively improve from last season.  Natalia Riccardi gave St. Mary's a 2nd runner under 20 minutes on the Hayward course with her 19:53 last year.

The team vying for a top 3 finish will be Sir Francis Drake.  They finished 4th last year and will return 6 of their top 7 runners.  They do lose their #1 runner from last year, Bianca Doerschlog who was more than a minute ahead of her teammates at 20:11.  This year's team will be more of a pack attack unless they can add some younger runners to lead the way.

With only 3 teams making their way to state in this division, the previous three teams mentioned might be hard to surpass.  Piner HS finished a very competitive 6th place in the much tougher Division III race last year.  They do lose the Johnson twins but do return their 3-5th runners including Paloma Romero (11:50.81).  With a couple of solid additions, they could break into the top 3 and punch their ticket to the state meet.  Fortuna returns everybody from last year but will need to tighten up their 1-5 gap.  The rest of the teams who should be in the top 10 includes Piedmont, Marin Catholic and San Marin.

The favorite at this moment to win the individual title is St. Mary's Berkeley runner, Spencer Moore.  She won as a freshman (18:32) and finished 2nd last year in a faster time (17:45) behind El Molino's Nicole Lane.  Her closest finishers from last year's race were freshmen Elizabeth Ford of Arcata (19:10), Jordan Allen of Marin Catholic (19:27) and Zoe Ziegler of Arcata (19:31).  The wildcard will be Chloe Pigg of Arcata.  Based on her resume before high school, Chloe might be the best runner in this division next year.

Division IV Boys (Top 4 Advance to state)
1) Sir Francis Drake-Might have the runners to upend St. Mary's.
2) Piner-New kid on the block.
3) St. Mary's Berkeley-Top 2 last 6 years.
4) Cardinal Newman-Triumvirate up front could be enough to make state.
5) San Rafael-This will be a rebuilding year for the defending champions.
On the bubble:  Arcata, El MolinoMoreau Catholic, Piedmont

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2011 NCS meet time:
John Lawson (1) Drake 15:17
Clayton Hutchins (4) Drake 16:00
Joey Morris (6) San Rafael 16:09
Jack Bowbly (7) Cardinal Newman 16:12
Julian Frost (8) Piedmont 16:19
From Division III:
Jaime Silva (4) Piner 15:21
Efren Reyes (19) Piner 15:51
Matt Mulligan (31) Piner 16:14

Division IV Girls (Top 3 Advance to state)
1)  Arcata-As much of a lock as any team in any division.
2)  St. Mary's Berkeley-Spencer Moore leads the way here.
3)  Sir Francis Drake-Bill Taylor always seems to find a way.
4) Piner-Program on a roll.  Could be dangerous in this division.
5) Fortuna-Return all 7 runners after 6th place finish last year.
On the bubble:  Marin CatholicPiedmontSan Marin

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2011 NCS meet time:
Spencer Moore (2) St. Mary's 18:32
Elizabeth Ford (4) Arcata 19:10
Jordan Allen (6) Marin Catholic 19:27
Zoe Ziegler (7) Arcata 19:31
Vera Heidmann (8) Arcata 19:38

Northern California individuals and teams have done quite well at the state meet in this division.  Here is a list of recent accomplishments in the past five years (different sections other than NCS noted):

John Lawson Sir Francis Drake 1st
Vanessa Fraser (CCS) Scotts Valley 1st
Kaila Gibson (CCS) Santa Cruz 6th
Nicole Lane El Molino 7th
Anna Maxwell (CCS) San Lorenzo Valley 8th
Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley 9th
Yreka (NS) 1st (Boys)
San Lorenzo Valley (CCS) 2nd (Girls)

Daniel Milechman Tamalpais 1st
John Lawson Sir Francis Drake 5th
Trevor Ehlenbach San Rafael 7th
Ned Tannenbaum University 8th
Anna Maxwell (CCS) San Lorenzo Valley 3rd
Vanessa Fraser (CCS) Scotts Valley 4th
Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley 7th
Becky Hobby (SJS) Hughson 8th
Nina Anderson (CCS) Notre Dame Salinas 10th
San Rafael 1st (Boys)
Stevenson (CCS) 3rd (Boys)

Daniel Milechman Tamalpais 1st
Dan Maxwell St. Mary's Berkeley 3rd
Brian King Cardinal Newman 6th
Matt Airola (SJS) Bret Harte 9th
Theresa Devine Marin Catholic 2nd
Rebecca Hobby (SJS) Hughson 5th
Nina Anderson (CCS) Notre Dame Salinas 7th
Corissa Storms (NS) West Valley 8th

Tyre Johnson (CCS) Palma 1st
Brennan Lynch (CCS) Santa Cruz 2nd
Daniel Milechman Tamalpais 3rd
Dan Maxwell St. Mary's Berkeley 5th
Tiffany Heflin (NS) Lassen 3rd
Theresa Devine Marin Catholic 5th
Michelle Johnson (NS) West Valley 7th
St. Mary's Berkeley 2nd (Girls)

German Fernandez (SJS) Riverbank 1st (Woodward Park course record 14:24)
Tyre Johnson (CCS) Palma 2nd
Matt Duffy St. Mary's Berkeley 4th
Matt Airola (SJS) Bret Harte 6th
Brennan Lynch (CCS) Santa Cruz 7th
Sarah Sumpter Healdsburg 1st
Jennifer Bergman (CCS) Valley Christian SJ 2nd
Annie Lee (CCS) Stevenson 3rd
Michelle Johnson (NS) West Valley 8th
Kelsey Ripp San Rafael 10th
St. Mary's Berkeley 2nd (Boys)
St. Mary's Berkeley 2nd (Girls)

That's 7 individual state champions, 2 team champions and 5 additional podium teams.

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


NCSfanboy said...

Love the work you put into these. I appreciate it. Looking forward to Coach Oswalt's take on D1 this year.

Anonymous said...

Piner could potentially have 3 in the top 5... I don't think Drake is the obvious favorite or even the favorite at all. Piner should win handily.

Anonymous said...

piner is not going to have 3 in the top 5.
reyes and mulligan are good, but they are not as good as hutchins, frost, and morris.

Albert Caruana said...

Piner is a threat no question. I had to pick a #1 so went with Drake at this point. If Piner wins, it won't be a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Great preview, can't wait until season starts! Piner and Drake are both great teams.

Anonymous said...

Watch out for Terra Linda from MCAL... they could be a big surprise ;)

Anonymous said...

^terra linda didn't have a single guy under 17:30 last year...

Anonymous said...

does anyone think that lawson or anyone else has a chance at breaking 15 at hayward this year?

Anonymous said...

saint marys is a goner they have lost 4 of their top 5

Luis Rosales said...

I have noticed lots has been written here in regards to how the Piner boys will do at NCS. At Piner we make no predictions how we will do. We just preach do your best and the places will take care of itself. This is, for the most part on how our summer running goes. We don't get too wrapped up on who will do what at NCS, because in the end if you are wrong you just look silly. So to every NCS team I wish you well this season. Good luck and let the cards fall where they will this fall. Most importantly let us create a positive experience for our kids.

Kieran said...

At the anonymous comment dissing my school... We'll prove wrong about how strong our school Terra Linda is. Just sit back, watch, and enjoy being proven wrong.

Anonymous said...


ncs miler said...

this article deserves a bump. would anyone change the current rankings? any thoughts on drake vs piner? individual performances? discuss!

Albert Caruana said...

Things will be much clearer after the Stanford Invite this weekend.

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