Sunday, July 07, 2019

2019 North Coast Section Pre-Season Division III Rankings by Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist

NCS DIII Boys Rankings 
Overview: Last cross country season saw another spirited battle between Maria Carrillo and Campolindo, with “Campo” putting all the pieces together at the end of the year to narrowly capture the section title before poor air quality caused the cancelation of the NCS championships. The following week at the state championships, Campo came very close to winning the state title finishing in 2nd place. With Maria Carrillo returning the bulk of its team, the Pumas are the favorites to capture the section title and dethrone the defending champs. Individually, there will be a new champion crowned this year as 3-time defending section champion Liam Anderson has graduated.

1. Maria Carrillo: The Pumas have the firepower and depth to not only roll to the section title but also capture the state championship, which would be the first in program history. As the deepest team in the state, the Pumas are led by the stunning front trio of Rory Smail, Colton Swinth, and Pierce Kapustka. The senior trio entered high school as one of the most talented classes in recent history, and they have proved it this past spring as the three of them all put up some impressive times in the 1600 and 3200. However, the thing that makes Maria Carrillo such heavy favorites is their incredible depth, as they bring back 7 runners who have broken 10:00 in the 3200. The key for Maria Carrillo will be how their youth develops and matures. While sophomores Jacob Donohue and Noe Vieyra did not make the varsity top 7 last fall, during track the two of them dipped under the 10:00 barrier in the 3200 and under the 4:400 barrier in the 1600, both impressive marks for freshmen. If Maria Carrillo can develop a strong back end that can close the gap on their front-running trio the pumas will capture another section title and win their first-ever state title. A DIII NCS boy’s team has never won a state championship, so look for Maria Carrillo to be the first.

2. Campolindo: The Cougars impressed last fall to roar to a section title and a 2nd place finish at state. With only 2 members of that team graduating, Campo is looking for another podium appearance at state as well as contending for a section title. Despite being plagued with injuries last fall, Dylan Gunn impressed at the end of the cross country season to finish 11th at state. Injury problems caused him to miss a lot of time during track season, but if he can return to form, that will give the Cougars a frontrunner that can match up with anyone else on podium-contending teams. Senior Cayden Hein continued to improve during track season, making the finals at the NCS MOC in the 1600. With his continued improvement, Campo will match up with Maria Carrillo at the front end. Another key returner, Dylan Cronin also had a productive spring and he should also help keep the Cougars in contention in every race. The biggest question mark for Campo is their back-end depth. While Owen Lekki and Marco Chao both flashed potential last year, they were also very inconsistent. If the two of them are able to improve and stay consistent, the Cougars will be within striking distance of the section title. As it stands now, Campolindo is just a few steps behind, but don’t count them out just yet.

3. Casa Grande: The Gauchos are the team with the most upside in this division as they had some eye-popping improvement during the track season and they return their entire top 7 from a year ago. The Hite twins, Owen and William, came on strong towards the closing stages of the spring, running 4:22 and 4:26 in the 1600 respectively. Throw in middle distance specialist Logan Moon, who owns a personal best of 1:54 in the 800, and you have the makings of an impressive front trio. With three other returners who dipped under 4:50 in the 1600 and Casa Grande should have no trouble in advancing the state. It will take another big jump from their back-end runners for them to close the gap on the top two teams, but it’s not out of reach.

4. Las Lomas: With the likes of Acalanes and Redwood being moved out of this division, Las Lomas has an opening to capture the final state qualifying spot. The Knights have 5 returners who broke 5:00 in the 1600 and if they can continue to work on their pack margin, things look promising. Also keep in mind that Las Lomas routinely fields one of the largest cross country teams in the section, so finding the talent to fill out the team should not be that difficult.
On the bubble: Piner, Northgate, Alameda, Tamalpais, Livermore

Individual Rankings: 
1. Rory Smail – Maria Carrillo
2. Colton Swinth – Maria Carrillo
3. Cayden Hein – Campolindo
4. Pierce Kapustka – Maria Carrillo
5. Dylan Gunn – Campolindo
6. Owen Hite – Casa Grande
7. Owen Pugh – Maria Carrillo

NCS DIII Girls Rankings 
Overview: Last year, poor air quality forced the cancellation of the DIII girls race at the NCS championships, forcing a committee to advance 5 teams (along with individuals) to the state meet. Despite looking vulnerable for most of the season, Campolindo blew through the projections to land another podium spot at state in finishing in third place, also capturing the de facto NCS title. With “Campo” returning 6 out of their top 7 from last year, they are in a prime position to capture their 7th consecutive team title. Maria Carrillo also returns another strong team so they will be in contention as well. With section champion Rayna Stanziano now graduated, the field is wide open in the race for the individual NCS crown.

1. Campolindo: The “team of the decade” in this division, Campo has had quite the remarkable run of success. With 8 section titles and 3 state titles this decade to go along with 2 other podium finishes, Campolindo has continued to put together quality teams no matter what the situation. The task is equally challenging this year as the Cougars are facing their share of adversity going into the fall. Varsity scorers Sophie Webster and Sarah Berten were both injured during the spring and did not finish out the track season. It will remain to be seen if they can get back to their previous fitness level. Paloma Hancock and Alicia Hober came on strong during the track season to land individual podium finishes at the NCS MOC in the 1600, but they will need to step it up this upcoming fall if they want to continue that improvement curve. For Campo to capture another section title and compete for the state crown they will need a big step up from their back-end runners as the depth is a concern at this point in time. With the likes of Ellie Guthrie (5:32 1600) and Emma Smith (5:31 1600), the Cougars have been working on cultivating that depth and as such, they are in prime position to capture their 17th NCS title.

2. Maria Carrillo: The pumas were impressive during last cross country season as they rolled to a 5th place finish at state, their highest since 2008. However, Maria Carrillo was expected to compete for the section title and finish in the top 3 at state so it was a bittersweet ending to the season. With another strong track campaign, the pumas have put themselves right back into contention for the section title and a state podium finish. Nicole Morris and Jasmin Hirth are both coming off of great track seasons and they will give the Pumas a great 1-2 punch at the front of every race. The real question will be if their 3-7 runners can build off of their track seasons and keep that momentum going. Hannah Cohen-Sandler (5:29 1600), Ashley Jepkoech (5:33 1600), and Anahita Jensen (5:40 1600) will all need to make the transition to the longer distance as they are still mostly unproven at 3 miles/5k. If they are able to do that, look for Maria Carrillo to be very close to Campolindo at the end of the season.

3. Alameda: They had a surprising finish to the season last year, going from an unknown to landing a 7th place finish at state. The task gets a bit tougher this season due to graduation losses, but the Hornets do return 5 girls who broke 6:00 in the 1600, including a strong front running pair in Olivia Liuson (5:15 16000) and Katy Hosokawa (5:31 1600). However, there is a big drop off after those two and even more of a drop off after their 5th best returner. As it stands now, Alameda is certainly looking like a lock to make state, but it will take a big jump in performance if they want to close the gap on the top 2 teams in this division.

4. Northgate: The Broncos return a strong core group from last year’s team and with the recent changes in this division, they are in contention to claim the final qualifying spot to state. Anoushka Samuel, Grace Zodikoff, and Lark Chang-Yeh give Northgate a solid front end, but to make state they will need to work on closing down their pack margin at the 4-5 scoring positions. Getting to face off against the likes of Campolindo, Acalanes, College Park, and Miramonte in the DAL will give Northgate plenty of good opportunities to see how they stack up against the best teams in the section, but they are in a great spot to move up these rankings if they can continue their improvement curve.
On the bubble: Carondelet, Las Lomas, Piner, Livermore

Individual rankings
1. Nicole Morris – Maria Carrillo
2. Alicia Hober – Campolindo
3. Jasmin Hirth – Maria Carrillo
4. Paloma Hancock – Campolindo
5. Olivia Liuson – Alameda
6. Emilia Oblites – Novato
7. Viviana Valenton – Livermore


Anonymous said...

Viviana Valenton is Livermore not Casa Grande

Albert Caruana said...


Anonymous said...

Division 2 please!!

Albert Caruana said...

Division 2 will be next.

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