Friday, July 28, 2023

2023 Pre-Season North Coast Section (NCS) Division II Girls' Cross Country Rankings

Here are the pre-season rankings in NCS Division II thanks to Monte Vista coach Patrick Wales-Dinan. The division breakdowns for all NCS teams can be found at this LINK. The number of teams that qualify for the state meet in each section and division can be found at this LINK.

Monte Vista comes into the season as the favorite on the girl's side. The Mustangs won their first NCS title since 2016 and their first in Division 2 this century. They return all 7 runners who competed at last year's championships and return 4 of the top 5 runners from 2022. They are led by junior Alexandra Powell who finished 3rd overall last year. Powell ran 11:12 for 3200m this spring. Peyton Dolan should add more firepower up front for Monte Vista. The senior had a breakout season on the track running 5:03 for 1600m and 2:14 for the 800m. She was the EBAL Champ in the 1600m. Allie Turns and Maraki Amare both were top 10 finishers at the NCS Championships a year ago and should be top 5 runners for the Mustangs again this fall. Sofia Fernandez should add depth as the rising junior had a strong track season running 5:19 for the 1600m and 2:21 for 800m

Granada has been a perennial powerhouse in the NCS for the past decade. The Matadors had won 6 straight Division 2 titles prior to last year and will be a major contender for the title again this fall. They will be led by individual favorite Abby Stein. Stein burst onto the scene this track season after not being a top 5 runner for Granada last season. She set huge PRs of 5:04 for 1600m and made the CIF state championships in the 3200m with a PR of 10:45 at MOC. Jana Baron and Kerrigan Sauder will both be huge assets for Granada. Baron was the 2021 NCS Cross Country Champion and could be a dark horse for the title this fall. She battled through injury in the spring but hopes to be lining up healthy this fall. Sauder is Granada's top returner. She was 6th last year at NCS and is the #2 returner this fall.

San Ramon Valley surprised a lot of people last fall with some great late-season performances. The Wolves ran a strong race to take the third and final qualifying spot to state. They are led by senior Grace Roesgen and Junior Alyssa Salven but could get some breakout performances from some sophomores this fall. Margot Schultz was the top freshman at NCS last year and is the 9th overall returner while Alexandra Smith had a superb spring running a 5:14 1600m. Avery Knapp and Hailey Gunderson will add support to this strong group up front. 

Amador Valley has a nice core returning led by sophomore Kacie Wong who made it to the NCS meet of champions in the 3200m, and ran a huge PR of 11:23. She and Tessa Jennings should be leading the way for the Dons who have a nice young core that is looking to develop. 

Honorable Mention (added by editor): 
Redwood: Finished 2nd in 2022 and lost tie-breaker for 2nd in 2021. Return 3 from 2022 team.
  1. Abby Stein - Granada
    • Stein was the Division 2 breakout performer in track this spring. The rising junior separated herself from the rest of the competition in Division 2 with some incredible races on the track. As discussed above, she was an individual qualifier for the CIF State Championships in the 3200m running 10:45 at the NCS MOC. She also set huge PRs of 5:04 in the 1600m and 2:26 in the 800m.
  2. Alexandra Powell - Monte Vista
    • Powell is the top returner from the 2022 championships. She ran 18:05 on the Hayward course last spring which is 35 seconds faster than the next best returner. She backed up her strong cross country season with a track season that saw her set PRs at 1600m (5:14) and 3200m (11:12). She was EBAL runner-up in the 3200m and was 4th in the NCS Tri-Valley 3200m. She then showed some wheels on the track running 2:22 in the 4x800m relay at the CIF State Championships for the Mustangs
  3. Peyton Dolan - Monte Vista
    • Dolan is the #3 returner from the 2022 NCS Championships. She was the Mustangs' top runner at the CIF Cross Country championships and she was fantastic on the track all spring. She was EBAL Champ in the 1600m and runner-up in the 800m. She then finished 3rd at the NCS Tri-Valley champs running 5:03 behind the strong duo of Buckley and Volkmer from Campolindo. She also anchored the Mustangs 4x800m relay at the State Championships with a PR of 2:14. 
  4. Jana Baron - Granada
    • Despite only being the 14th returner from the 2022 NCS Cross Country Championships, Baron has loads of ability and experience and should not be overlooked in 2023. As told above, Baron was the 2021 NCS Cross Country Champion running under 18:00 on the Hayward course. Baron came back from injury that year as well and there is no reason to believe that she won't be a contender this fall. If the Matadors are going to reclaim their title in November, look to Baron to be a major contributor. 
  5. Kacie Wong - Amador Valley
    • Wong will lead the Dons this fall in hopes of helping her squad qualify for the CIF State Championships. Along the way, she will be one of the ladies battling it out for the section title. Wong ran 11:23 for 3200m this spring, the 3rd fastest returner behind Stein and Powell. 
Honorable Mention: Erin Stolte (Redwood), Allie Turns (Monte Vista), Kerrigan Sauder (Granada), Marley Nacco (Redwood), Alexandra Smith (San Ramon Valley), Kylie Wisely (Heritage - Brentwood)

Please feel free to chime in on the rankings above. Section titles and state meet berths are decided by the runners themselves in November but always fun to project now before the season starts. Any impact freshmen that we should know about? Boys' Division II rankings will be posted tomorrow.

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