Friday, July 16, 2021

Pre-Season NCS Division III XC Rankings (Girls)

NCS Division III Girls Preseason Rankings by Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist

Overview: In the before time of 2019, Campolindo rounded into superb form at the end of the season, blowing out the rest of the section to capture the team title and then rolling to a resounding win at the state championships the following week. With the majority of that team lost to graduation, Campolindo will face stiff competition from a vastly improved Maria Carrillo squad hungry for their first section title since 2013.

While most teams in the area were able to get in a relatively full track season this spring, it still remains to be seen how athletes and teams adapt to running big-time cross country in the fall. Track times are not always indicative of cross country success, however, the performances from this past track season are the best data points available, so they factored heavily into these rankings. 4 teams make it to state in this division so these rankings will be 4 teams deep.

1. Maria Carrillo: The Pumas are coming off an impressive track season in the middle distances in which they had 5 athletes all well under 5:30 for 1600. This type of depth means that Maria Carrillo is ready for another big jump this fall. Gracie Trenam was the breakout star for the Pumas this past spring, rolling to a 5:14 clocking in the 1600 with Ashley Busienei (5:16) and Rebekah Taylor (5:19) not too far behind. Vivian Mattice and Avery Hedden also made big jumps in the 1600 as well, giving Maria Carrillo one of the deepest squads in the state. While the Pumas did not focus on the 3200 all that much during the spring, projected #6 runner Brooke Cregan rolled to an impressive 11:55 performance in the event.

Division III is shaping up to be one of the deepest and most competitive fields state-wide, and Maria Carrillo is in a position to compete for not only a podium spot but the state title as well. The only glaring weakness is the lack of an outstanding frontrunner, but look for that to change this fall as this team continues to develop.

2. Campolindo: Since taking over as head coach in 2006, Chuck Woolridge has had a run of unpreceded success in winning 11 NCS team championships (including an active streak of 7 in a row) and 4 state championships. Prior to Covid-19 putting a halt to high school sports in the state, the Cougars were on a roll, coming off an 80-point blowout win at the 2019 state meet. Junior Ellie Buckley is the lone returner from that squad and is coming off a very strong spring track season, clocking personal bests of 5:08 and 10:55 in the 1600 and 3200. Backing her up are the sophomore duo of Makena Weberski (11:34 3200) and Shea Volkmer (11:24 3200), giving the Cougars an impressive 1-2-3. These 3 will be critical to Campo’s quest for an 18th section title and a 6th state title. The biggest issue facing the Cougars this summer is the big gap from their #3 to #4/5 runners. Daisy Penny and Caroline McCool had very productive track seasons, running 12:13 and 12:17 respectively in the 3200 but such a large gap will be costly in a big cross country race.

It seems like every season Campolindo manages to notch massive improvements, so while they start the summer as underdogs, don’t be surprised if they close down the gap come November.

3. Livermore: In his 35+ years of coaching at Livermore high, Eddie Salazar has become known for putting together many good teams seemingly out of nowhere, and you should expect the same this cross country season. While the Cowgirls don’t have a large contingent of returners, they had a very solid track season with Angelina Guzman (5:23 1600) leading the charge along with 4 other returners under 6:00 in the 1600. While it would take a lot of work to close the gap on the top 2 teams, Livermore is primed for a medal position at NCS and a trip to Woodward Park on Thanksgiving weekend.

4. Las Lomas: With only an abbreviated spring track season to look it, it can be hard to figure out where a lot of these teams stand and even harder to project how they will do during a full cross country season. Las Lomas raced sparingly during the spring but with 5 returners all running 6:15 or better for 1600, look for the Knights to contend for a top 4 spot.

On the bubble: Carondelet, Santa Rosa, Newark Memorial

More pre-season rankings including the rest of NCS as well as all the other sections in Northern California. If you would like to contribute to the pre-season rankings, please reach out to me at

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