Sunday, June 16, 2019

2019 NCS Division IV pre-season rankings thanks to Piedmont assistant coach, Len Goldman

I would like to preface my comments with condolences to the Marin Catholic team and coaching staff on the tragic death of Mark Richtman.  I knew Mark through my membership in the Tamalpa Running Club and he will be sorely missed by the running community.

Len (to the right)

D4 - Girls
In 2018, two NCS D4 schools finished in the top 10 at the state meet with Bishop O'Dowd a solid 5th and Marin Catholic right behind them in 6th.

The expectation is that these two schools along with Miramonte will be the qualifiers for the state meet in 2019 and it should be a very close competition among all three schools.  However with Samantha Wallenstrom, the state champion in the 800 meters, leading her squad, Marin Catholic receives the nod as the pre-season #1 NCS girls team in D4.

Note, two new schools have been added to this division for 2019, Acalanes and JFK-Fremont.  This could impact things this year and going forward.

Marin Catholic returns five of their seven varsity runners and several of these runners had solid track seasons which should bode well for cross country.

The team had a banner year in 2018, winning the MCAL league championship and were primed to contend for the NCS title, only to be pulled from the starting line at the last minute because of unhealthy air quality due to the disastrous Camp Fire.  Let's hope we don't have a repeat of that situation this year and that the qualifiers for the state meet can be decided on the field of play.  Supporting Marin Catholic's #1 runner Samantha Wallenstrom is her twin sister Turner. Gigi Clifford who ran a 5:26 and 11:48 for 1600m and 3200m respectively during the recent track season is a solid #3 runner for the team, and Maddie Dowd ran 12:32 in the 3200m during the recent track season.

Year in and year out, Bishop O'Dowd always fields teams that will be a contender and 2019 is no exception.  Although two of their top runners, Jeneva Toolajia and Isabella Brusco, have graduated, everyone else returns and they should give Marin Catholic some stiff competition at the NCS meet come November.  Lilian Yu, who ran extremely well as a freshman, posted solid times during the recent track season, with a 5:17 in the 1600m.  Backing her up will be Katie Senn a sophomore, plus Kalea Fong the only senior returning who ran 5:42 in the 1600m this season. Isabella Whitten, another sophomore, ran 5:48 for the 1600m and will be a key contributor to the team effort.

Miramonte could very well be the surprise team in D4 for 2019 and it certainly has the talent to win the sectional title.  They also return 5 of their varsity 7 runners from 2018.  The team will be led by Audrey Allen, a junior, one of the top returning runners and 20th in the State meet last year.
In track this season, she had a best of 5:07 for 1600m and 10:54 for the 3200m. A trio of talented sophomores will provide solid backing for this team. Kate Riley, Jaime Say, and Claire Nolet all posted good times during the recent track season and appear poised to make Miramonte a strong contender.

There are several other teams that could contend for a berth in the state meet. The Piedmont girls are looking to extend their streak and make it 7 consecutive years for qualifying for the state meet, although it won't be easy with only three teams qualifying.  Piedmont returns four of their varsity seven runners and leading the way is senior Sophia Zalewski, the WACC 2018 cross country champion. She ran a 5:09 1600m and 11:19 for 3200m this past track season.  She will need her teammates to step up their running if they are to contend this season. Another team that has been under the radar for a while and used to be a perennial contender is St. Mary's Berkeley.  There are no seniors on this team, but they have a whole cadre of young runners led by Jordan Cornet.  The future looks bright for this team if not 2019 than possibly 2020 to make some noise at the section meet.

Projected Top Teams:  Marin Catholic, Miramonte  Bishop O'Dowd
On the bubble: Piedmont, St. Mary's Berkeley

In terms of the individual title, Samantha Wallenstrom of Marin Catholic based on her 800m state title and 13th in the state cross country meet last season is the pre-season favorite.  The runner-up appears to be Audrey Allen from Miramonte who should provide strong competition for the top position.  After these two runners, the picture is less clear, possibly Sophia Zalewski of Piedmont or Sophia Nordenholz of Albany who had a solid track season.

Top Individuals:  Samantha Wallenstrom-Marin Catholic, Audrey Allen-Miramonte, Sophia Zalewski-Piedmont.
On the bubble:  Sophia Nordenholz-Albany, Lilian Yu-O'Dowd

D4 - Boys
In 2018, Sir Francis Drake finished 2nd in the state cross country meet and was it not for the cancellation of the NCS D4 boys race they probably would have repeated as section champions.  In 2019, they again appear to be the favorites for the title despite losing several of their top runners to graduation.  Their squad is very deep and has quality runners across the board.  Chasing them will be several schools including Bishop O'Dowd, Marin Catholic, Piner, and possibly Acalanes.  It may take a good part of the season to sort out who the top challengers to Sir Francis Drake will be.

Sir Francis Drake appears loaded again this year and could possibly be one of the top D4 boys team in the state.  They will be led by Amir Barken, 11th in the state meet in 2018 and whose times this past track season were stellar. He ran 4:17 for 1600m and 1:58 for 800m. His supporting cast includes Owen and Nate Wolford, Calvin MCarthy, Oliver Arnesson, Diego Fino, and Nick ParrOwen Wolford had a track best this season of 1:57-800m and 4:35 for 1600m.  Nate and Calvin both had 1600m best of 4:37, while Diego had a 3200m time of 10:11 and Oliver's best was 10:12. Not many teams in the division have quality depth like this.

Bishop O'Dowd returns 6 of their varsity 7 cross country team members and they will once again contend for a spot in the state meet.  Lucas Chaney and Julian Jensen are their top two runners, both are capable of running sub-17 minute times for the 5K.  Julian had track season best of 4:39 for 1600m and 10:23 for 3200m.  While Lucas ran 4:43 for 1600m and 10:19 for 3200m.  After these two runners, there is a bit of a drop-off in times but it appears that their team is talented enough to finish second behind Sir Francis Drake.

After these two teams, it's just too early to pick a #3 team in the division.

It probably will come from one of these teams, however.  Marin Catholic probably has the top runner in the division, Lyle Rumon, 3rd in the state meet and recent track bests of 4:18 for 1600m and 9:14 for 3200m.  Who his supporting cast will remain to be seen, with just 3 returning members from the 2018 cross country team.  Also worthy of consideration are Piner and Albany with 4 returning varsity members.  A real dark horse could be Piedmont with 5 returning varsity members.  Finally, new to the division after moving down from the tough D3 category is Acalanes.  It appears they have 6 returning varsity runners led by Sam Roth with a 10:13 3200m time.  Several other of his teammates posted times under 11 minutes in the 3200m this recent track season, so this team will bear watching as the season progresses.

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

In all likelihood, the top Division 4 individual will be a runner from one of the MCAL teams.  Lyle Rumon of Marin Catholic is the pre-season favorite, but Amir Barken of Sir Francis Drake will be there right with him.

Top Individuals:  Lyle Rumon-Marin Catholic, Amir Barken, and Owen Wolford-Sir Francis Drake
On the bubble:  Henry Burditt-Albany, Henry Denberg-San Rafael, Oliver Arnesson-Sir Francis Drake

The next division posted will be the division that is requested the most in the comment section below.


Anonymous said...

Looks like Piner is D III this year.

Len said...

Thanks, I missed that change.

Anonymous said...

Can you post D3?

Anonymous said...

Post D3 next

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Anonymous said...

Division 2?

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