Sunday, August 05, 2012

CCS Coaches ranked by John Rankr

With all the rankings going on for divisions and individuals I thought it would be fun to dish it back to the coaches. Here is my list of the top program coaches in the CCS. (Nor Cal feel free to laugh all you want, you’re next). Disclaimer: I do not know these coaches other than what I read, see online and hear from parents, other coaches and friends. I am not here to side with anybody here so I have decided to include some criticism, rumors, and gossip as well. It is just my opinion, feel free to be offended and rant all you like.

1. Dan Gruber (Aptos). 
One of two coaches to win CCS as an individual and as a coach, Gruber is one of the best. I haven’t spent time digging through results but I don’t know of any coach who has had more League, CCS and State Champions on the track and cross country than Gruber. My only criticism is despite all their state champions and podium finishes they have yet to create a culture to get the numbers out for cross country and are a very small team (under 10 runners). But then they go and thump everyone anyways, so in the end does it really matter?

2. Jenn Randazzo (Carlmont).
Amazing how we are still talking about the 2009 dismissal of Jeff Gilkey and how it continues to create discord for Coach Randazzo. Anyone who has to deal with this kind of situation and still finds a way to build a winning program, let alone stick around is clearly in it for the kid’s best interests and one of the best coaches in CCS. The only question here is would Carlmont be as good if Gilkey cut his connections with Carlmont? Perhaps in another 3 years we will have our answer, but probably not. He was advised to cut the cords in 2009 and is still around. Only time will tell.

3. Patrick McCrystal (Bellarmine).
The Bells are expected to be the best of the best year after year. It can be hard on a coach where the expectation is to win or the season is a failure but McCrystal and crew have done a great job getting his boys to live up to expectations. But it’s hard to feel sorry for a coach with the situation that he is set up with there. While they are dominant team in the CCS, they should be! They are an elite institution and one of the largest schools in the section. Bottom line McCrystal needs to build Bellarmine into a team that is a player at the State level. But let’s be honest… first he needs to find a way to get past Carlmont.

4. Rob Collins (SLV). 
They had one of the best track and cross country teams ever to come through CCS then dropped off the map for a bit, but they have built themselves back into a powerhouse on the CCS and State level. The Cougars are an example of a solid all-around program. I don’t know how Coach Collins does it but he has a good thing going. He just needs to get past Aptos who seem to be a thorn in their sides.

5. Matt Tompkins / Ernest Lee (Gunn). 
Some of the best XC teams the past 10 years have come out of Gunn High School. And when you have a soccer player who is also one of the best runners in CCS History you are doing something right. The team depth has dropped off as of late but the top individuals are still the best in the nation. The debate of Sarah Robinson to run or not to run could be a turning point for this program and school culture.

6. Matt Snee (Los Gatos).
What else is there to say, the Wildcats win. Both boys and girls teams are at the top year after year. They have a good thing going over there with a great school culture for distance running. Things to improve: At times private coaching can cause division be it ever-so-slightly. They would be better if they worked as a team instead of individuals.

7. Nicholas Alvarado (Saint Ignatius).
SI has great history as both boys and girls are a perianal power in the CCS. This is another example of a great all-around program with focused and dedicated athletes who have been some of the top individuals in the section. There has been a bit of a revolving door for the head position the last few years which I think has hurt the boys team a bit as there seems to be a lack of continuity between cross country and track but things look to be improving.

8. Jess Morales (San Benito). 
Call it San Benito, call it Hollister…call it whatever you like, some incredible runners come out of this school. Of all the southern schools this one is one of the best. They have had some problems taking down Carlmont and Bellarmine when it counts, but both the girls and the boys are improving and will be players this season. Is this an upward trend or just a fad? Talk to me in a few years and I’ll let you know.

9. Victor Santamaria (Willow Glen). 
The other half of the CCS Athlete / Coach Champion combo comes from Coach Santamaria of Willow Glen. The Rams have had some amazing runners the past decade, especially on the boy side. They were dominant in D3 but have had a tough time since moving up to D2. They push hard which is good but can lead to injury problems. The funny thing is as soon as you think the talent had graduated and the team will need to rebuild runners go and drop low 9 minutes for 3200. We will see what Victor pulls out of the hat this year.

10. Josh Small (Valley Christian). 
This school gets a bump for producing some of the best cross country and track individuals the past 10 years. The Girls are regularly amongst the Top 10 teams in CCS and are continuously in the hunt for a State berth. Coach Small has done well with getting runners ready to compete at the college level but while he has had good results with individuals his team has yet to take the title or be able to compete well at the league level. Davis was a highlight this past year but the boys are awful and they need to get it going.

Why are these teams not on the list?
Sacred Heart Cathedral- Ranked #3 in the girls pre-season poll and having two alumni in the Olympics the coach with the funny hat (Andy Chan) probably should be #1 on the list… I mean does any of the above coaches have an athlete make the Olympics? I think not. I know… I suck.

Mountain View- One of the best teams in CCS the last 10 years has a revolving door at the coaching position. What in the world is going on there and who do we choose as the coach to highlight?

Mitty- Good solid teams and improving on the girls side but boys need to be better. They haven’t had a consistent history of top individuals on the CCS / State

Carmel, Half Moon Bay , Leland (am I leaving anyone out?)- You are right, they deserve to be on the list. Section Championships, State Berths what the heck am I thinking? Someone please do write-ups for these coaches and programs because I am going to go have a drink.


CCS FAN said...

Just scanning thru Lynbook site, I would probably Move Collins to Either 1 or 2, Most likely 2 Next to Gruber, he's actually had a few State Champions In Barrientos and Dunn, a few State Runner up's! Three Footlocker Finalist In Barrientos, Dunn and Maxwell 2X, A 11 CCS Championship Teams between Boys and Girls and On State Podium for 4 State Team Championships and 3 State Team Runner-ups on The Girls Side and Two 4th Place Finishes for The Boys Team, On the Track Barrientos two State Championships a National Record at one Time In DMR! Barrientos a 3x1600 CCS Champion and a 3200m, Alex Dunn 1600m CCS Champion, Taylor Jonhson also 3x1600m CCS Champion!Cody Johnson 1x800m CCS Champion, Anna Maxwell 2x3200m CCS Champion!I would probably say SLV is more of a thorn than Aptos since SLV Student Body is close to half there size! One other I would also Move Ernie Lee of Gunn Up Also! My Votes would Go Gruber, Collins, McCrystal, Lee-Thompkins, Randazzo! I just feel Randazzo is a fine Coach, but not alot of History Yet Like the other Coaches! Time Will Show though!

Anonymous said...

I hope NCS is next!

Marty Beene said...

I think you should have an honorable mention category for at least a couple of CCS coaches who have been around since the dawn of time, Bill Daskarolis of Aragon and Coach Dimaggio (sorry, I don't know his first name - duh!) of Westmoor. Dasko was my coach in the 70s, and he was old THEN. I recently reconnected with a college friend who reminded me that he ran at Westmoor and asked me if Dimaggio was still around - he couldn't believe the guy was still coaching, much less with the enthusiasm I see at the Ram Invite every year. Most importantly, go and watch these teams and you'll see a lot of kids who love to run. I don't really care if they're making it to State or getting athletes into the Olympics - these guys (and maybe some others?) deserve some mention in this list.

CCS FAN said...

Marty I Completely agree with you on your choices! We also need to add Guss Ibarra to the Group also!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Does Anonymous have a zipcode of 94501? Just asking! :)

PioneerInvite said...

1. Collins
2. Gruber

These 2 coaches are so far ahead of the rest of the group it's not even a debate. McCrystal, and the Gunn coaches are next on the list. Randazzo still needs to prove she can coach the top Carlmont runners instead of Gilkey. What about Albert Caruana, his teams are at the top of their division every year?

Unknown said...

choosing top coaches is tough. Many people rank coaches based off how far they have sent athletes. We can all make a case for a cross country coach. I would like to say that the majority of coaches that I have met over the years in CCS are amazing and well respected by their athletes. Marty Beene brought Coach Dimaggio's name up. I ran and competed for half moon bay high school ,but I knew Mr. Dimaggio very well and one thing I always saw that I had a lot of respect for was how his athletes listened to him. At the end of a meet at CSM (college of San Mateo) all of his athletes would sit silently and hear what he had to say about the day.

Anonymous said...

That 2009 mt. View team had Rancho San Antonio to run at everyday. That's always a plus.

Anonymous said...

its tough to rate coaches, since coaching it just as part of a team's success-some schools get more talented or experienced freshman runners then others, and some coaching styles work differently for different athletes.

Course rankings of any kind are fun to make and talk about-i hope they have one for NCS soon

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just for kicks, heres how I would put NCS. I agree that ranking coaches is pretty impossible-this is just my opinion.

chuck woolridge-Campolindo HS
jim tracy- University HS
bill cirroco- Urban HS
peter brewer Castro Valley HS
andrew cheng-Bishop O'dowd HS
tony fong- St Joeseph ND
noel mattern-granada HS
john pelster-De La Salle HS

Anonymous said...

What makes a good coach / program is not always having top individuals or teams.

For instance, is Bellarmine's coach good? He gets out large numbers but despite all the top talent doesn't win. Why is that a top coach? Or Aptos... Far and above the rest? A few top individuals and does a good job but you only get 10 out for xc? Is that a great HS coach who builds up teams and culture? Or just great talent?

I'm not saying they aren't good coaches just that there's so much more to it than wins or coaching future all-Americans. So what is it? What makes a great coach?

Anonymous said...

I was at the Lowell Invitational last year and Bellarmine had something like 55 freshman boys running in the Frosh race. Almost half the total field was from Bellarmine. That's a lot of talent to work with. My whole school has 8 runners in all grades. Heh heh.

Al Berrin said...

Rankings are fun, especially at the beginning of a season when we are all getting our teams ready to run. But I found myself a little uncomfortable when I saw the coaches ranking for both NCS and CCS.
I have been coaching in CCS for almost as long as Ron Dimaggio and have coached in enough places so I know that what you see on the results pages do not necessarily correlate to how competent or incompetent, how good or bad, or how knowledgeable a coach is about distance running in general or knowledgeable about cross country specifically.
I have attended clinics with many of the coaches in the NCS and respect their knowledge, philosophies and the records they have accumulated at the state level.
To be able to judge a coach or program, you need to actually observe what these programs and coaches do on a daily basis and you also need to have spent time discussing their programs with these coaches. Otherwise, the rankings are meaningless.
I have been working at St. Ignatius for the last 10 years and I can tell you that most of the comments did not capture much of the essence of the program that I am familiar with.
I would love sit down with Dan Gruder from Aptos or Patrick McCrystle from Bellarmine, talk training, find out how they manage their athletes and see if there are things I can steal to help my program. But, without any of this knowledge, I feel a little uncomfortable and almost unprofessional judging my fellow coaches.

Pamela Johnson/Cardwell said...

I've been a fan of this Cross Country Site for awhile Now and Just pop'n in once in awhile! I would Like to also Mentioned, Rob Was My Coach while He was at Sandy High School in the Mid late 90'2 and without Him I would Have Never won 3 Individual State Titles in the 3000m In 96 and the 1500m and 3000m in 97!He also guided My Teammates Brian to a State Championship in the 400m in 97 and also Two State runner-ups in the 800m in 95 and 96, Brian would Have ran the 800m in 97 where he was Ranked #1 but was disqualified! He Also guided another Teammate Robert Rivers to a 2nd place finish in the 1500 and a 3rd place finish in the 3000m both in 96! I Love My Coach and He was Just Great for Us when he was at Sandy and we are all proud of Him!

Albert Caruana said...

Thank you Pamela. If you haven't seen it already, here is my interview with Rob in 2010.

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