Thursday, July 27, 2023

Pre-Season NCS DIII Girls' Rankings by Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist

We will begin our pre-season cross country rankings with the NCS Division III girls. Thanks to Campolindo assistant coach, Andy Lindquist, we all get an early look at this division. Feel free to comment below on any athletes and teams that deserve to be mentioned as well. 

NCS DIII Girls’ Preseason Individual Rankings

Overview: Barring an injury or illness, Hanne Thomsen is your overwhelming favorite to win her 3rd straight NCS title as well as win her 3rd straight state title. Thomsen should be one of the best runners in the country this fall, but the rest of this division is no joke either. Her Montgomery teammates Seelah Kittlestrom and Amrie Lacefield along with Campolindo’s Shea Volkmer are all all-NCS and all-state contenders.  

1. Hanne Thomsen - Montgomery
2. Shea Volkmer - Campolindo
3. Seelah Kittlestrom - Montgomery
4. Amrie Lacefield - Montgomery
5. Gracie Trenam - Maria Carrillo
6. Kate Kabenina - Campolindo
7. Rachel Moen - Campolindo

NCS DIII Preseason Girls’ Team Rankings
Overview: Last year, Campolindo had the most impressive XC season in NCS history in rolling to section and state championships to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) for the first time in school history where the Cougars ultimately finished 13th in the country. With the bulk of their team returning this fall, Campolindo projects to be just as good as last year. However, Montgomery has made huge strides as well, especially in the front-scoring positions.

1. Campolindo: It would take many paragraphs to list out all of the accolades for this program but a few stand out and are worth mentioning. First, the Cougars are the 3-time defending state champions in DIII, and the 9-time defending NCS DIII champions. Second, “Campo” only loses 2 of their top 7 from last year’s team, making it a daunting task for any team in the state, let alone the section from contending with them. Senior Shea Volkmer leads the way and appears primed for her best season yet after a solid track season where she ran 10:42 in the 3200 and 5:00 in the 1600. Senior Kate Kabenina was one of the breakout stars of last season’s NXN campaign and she continued to progress during the spring running 11:19 in the 3200. Campolindo did struggle with some injury issues during the spring, but assuming they get healthy, Rachel Moen and Sloan Pullen will be big contributors to the varsity team just like last season. Simply put, the Cougars are the class of the section and the state, and that won’t be changing any time soon.

2. Montgomery: While Campolindo got many accolades over the last year, the Vikings have quietly turned into one of the most surprising teams in the section and the state. Last fall, they closed out the season with a 2nd place finish at NCS and a 6th place at state, their highest finish in many years. With 2-time state champion Hanne Thomsen returning, Montgomery will effectively only be scoring 4 runners in every meet, which makes the task of closing down the gap on Campolindo a little less arduous. Moreover, Seelah Kittlestrom and Amrie Lacefield had massive track seasons, giving Montgomery one of the best 1-2-3’s in the entire state. Through 3 runners, they actually project to be ahead of Campolindo. However, there is a pretty massive drop after that as the Vikings did not have another returner break 6:00 in the 1600 during the track season. While they will still make it to state just based on their front 3, having such a large gap will really drive up the score in bigger meets. Any impact freshmen or transfers could change this in a flash though, so for now Montgomery is still one of the stronger teams in the NCS, but without a stronger 4/5, the Vikings are still far behind Campolindo and the rest of the elite teams in California.

3. Maria Carrillo: The Pumas are one of the most consistent teams in the NCS and 2023 will be more of the same as they return a solid core of runners. Gracie Trenam will lead the charge and will be in contention for a medal position at the NCS championships. Backing her up Maria Carrillo has 5 other returners that broke 5:50 in the 1600 and they always seem to get an impact freshman or two as well. With the huge gap Montgomery has at the back-end scoring positions, a team like Maria Carrillo could be very close come championship season.

4. Las Lomas: The Knights had a solid track season and if they can continue their upward momentum, they could land one of those coveted team spots to state. Lilly Montilla had a solid spring in running 5:19 for the 1600 and Las Lomas had 4 other girls break 6:00 in the 1600 as well. The big x-factor could be junior Charlotte Orr, who burst onto the scene this track season by running 2:17.83 for 800. If she ends up running for Las Lomas in the fall, it would go a long way toward the knight’s chances of making it to state. (Editor's note: She will be doing cross country for the first time this fall.)

5. Newark Memorial: The Cougars narrowly missed making it to state for the first time ever last cross-country season, so they will have plenty of motivation this year to finally get over the hump. Ava Irwin gives Newark Memorial a strong starting point as her 11:44 performance in the 3200 during the track season points to great aerobic fitness. Behind her are 4 other returners who ran 12:50 or better in the 3200, so the potential is there to make a run up these rankings by the end of the season.

Feel free to comment below. The boys' NCS Division III pre-season rankings will be posted tomorrow.


Jim Crowhurst said...

Your missing a new freshman that will have a huge impact. Ashlin Mallon who is the daughter of National Champion Julia Stamps and is suppose to be at Maria Carrillo this year.

Albert Caruana said...

Jim, we are aware of Ashlin and know she is a very good runner. Once it's confirmed that she is going to Maria Carrillo (or not), we will add her into the mix as she will certainly have an impact. Thanks for chiming in.

David said...

Casa Grande looks to be an up-and-coming squad, heavy on Frosh and Soph last year that showed steady improvement over the track season. They won VVAL and lost no scorers to graduation, so will be stronger this year, led by Avery Codington.

Albert Caruana said...

Thank you for the addition, David. We will keep an eye on Casa Grande this coming season.

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