Tuesday, June 26, 2018

2018 North Coast Section Division IV pre-season rankings

The following is the first in our series of pre-season NCS cross country rankings thanks to Piedmont HS assistant coach Len Goldman. Please feel free to comment below if you feel there are teams and/or individuals that should be mentioned as well. If you know of any impact freshmen attending any of the schools mentioned below, please feel free to add them as well.

D4 - Girls
Team qualifying for the state meet has become more difficult this year with the elimination of one qualifying berth. Just three teams will move on to the state meet instead of four.  For the 2018 pre-season forecast, it appears that the qualifiers in recent years continue to be the favorites to return.  The Piedmont girls are looking to extend their streak and make it 6 consecutive years for qualifying for the state meet.  They are also the early season favorites to repeat and capture the team title, as they return 6 of the 7 girls who ran in the 2017 NCS meet.  Leading the way for the Piedmont team will be junior Sophia Zalewski, who had a fine track season setting personal bests in the 1600 and 3200.  She has an able group supporting her, all of whom are capable of running sub-20 minutes on the Hayward course.  
Once again WACC league rival Bishop O'Dowd is expected to challenge the Piedmont team, as they return five of their top seven runners who competed in the NCS meet last year.  Top returnees for O'Dowd are Jeneva Toolajia and Isabella Brusco who finished 6 & 7th in the 2017 NCS meet.  Year in and year out, O'Dowd always fields a competitive team and they should definitely be considered a contender.

Back in the spotlight is Miramonte.  Returning to her form from her sophomore year is Cassidy Haskell who placed 6th in the 2016 state cross country meet and also won the D4 NCS individual title that year.  She had a fine track and field season for 2018, qualifying for the state meet in the 1600 race with a time of 4:56.  In addition, Audrey Allen who will be a sophomore did not run cross country as a freshman but had an outstanding track and field season.  That duo could lead the team to an NCS title if they get some support from other team members like juniors Beatrice Whitaker and Colette Kimura.  It also appears that Miramonte will have several strong incoming 9th grade runners, so this is a team that bears watching as the season progresses.

There are several other teams that could contend for a berth in the state meet and these include last years runner-up in the NCS, Sir Francis Drake.  They do return their top two finishers from 2017, Kyla Seeley and Finleigh Levinson, but after those two runners, it's uncertain who might contribute to make their team a top three NCS finisher. 
Marin Catholic is another team that could make a strong push for the state meet as they return 6 of their 7 runners who ran in the NCS meet and qualified for the state meet.  They have three runners who ran sub-20 on the Hayward course, twin sisters Samantha and Turner Wallenst, and Sara Kennedy.  Several other team members will need to develop and lower their times for this team to return to the state meet.

Projected Top Teams:  Piedmont, Bishop O'Dowd, and Miramonte.
On the bubble: Drake and Marin Catholic.

The favorite to win the individual title will be Miramonte's Cassidy Haskell, who if she continues her comeback after an injury-riddled 2017 season, could be a definite possibility to win the title.  Shelby Nelson of Encinal is also coming off a fine track season that saw her break 5 minutes in the 1600 and could mount a challenge for the D4 title.  She was 4th in 2017 at the NCS and has continued to improve every year.  After those two runners, it's a bit uncertain who could be in the top five individually.  All the other top ten NCS returning runners appear to be well back of the two previously mentioned runners, so who will have a breakthrough season and post a competitive time? 

Top Individuals: Cassidy Haskell-Miramonte, then Shelby Nelson-Encinal and Riley Martel-Phillips-Arcata for the top three.
On the bubble:  Sophia Zalewski-Piedmont, plus Jeneva Toolajia and Isabella Brusco from O'Dowd.

D4 - Boys
The overwhelming favorite for the boy's team title at NCS is Sir Francis Drake, the 2017 titleist.  They return their top 5 varsity runners led by seniors Cooper Mccarthy, Gabriel Reuter, and Nicco Pompili, plus juniors Owen Wolford and Amir Barkan.  All five of these runners ran sub-16 minutes on the Hayward course in the 2017 NCS meet, the only team to do so and they also all finished among the top 11 runners, pack running at its best.  They could be even better in 2018 and it is doubtful that any other NCS team will be able to give them a serious challenge.  With two other state qualifying berths on the line, there are several possibilities, although each of them has questions about how they will do.
Last season's #2 and #3 teams in the NCS, Piner, and Piedmont, both will be missing two of their top five runners due to graduation, making it problematic if they can replace that type of talent and qualify for state again. Bishop O'Dowd, which is always a threat for a top three finish, also experienced losing some top runners who graduated but has some talented young runners coming up. 
Perhaps the most promising team for a runner-up position in the 2018 NCS meet is Albany.  They return their top four runners led by Calder Abbott, who also had a good outdoor track season.
As previously mentioned, Piner still looks to be a contender for moving on to the state meet.  They will be lead by senior Nathan Hayes, 10th in last years meet and who had a solid track season too. If their younger core of runners develop, they could definitely be in the hunt for the #2 or #3 place at the NCS meet.

Projected Top Teams:  Sir Francis Drake, Albany, Piner
On the bubble: O'Dowd, Piedmont, 

In all likelihood, the top D4 individual will be a Sir Francis Drake runner.  Who might emerge as #1 could be any one of these Drake runners, Cooper Mccarthy, Gabriel Reuter, Nicco Pompili, or Owen Wolford.  After the Drake runners, possible contenders for a top finish are Lyle Rumon of Marin Catholic, Calder Abbot of Albany, and Tommy Murphy from O'Dowd.

Top Individuals:  Cooper Mccarthy, Gabriel Reuter and Nicco Pompili all from Sir Francis Drake
On the bubble:  Owen Wolford-Drake, Lyle Rumon-Marin Catholic, Thomas Murphy-Bishop O'Dowd and Calder Abbott-Albany

Please share this article as well as other similar articles with your athletes, parents and fellow coaches. 

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Good, thorough job, Len. Enjoyed the read

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