Thursday, November 16, 2023

NCS Section Final Preview

Division I
Girls - (Top 2 teams advance to state meet):

1.    Berkeley
2.    Dougherty Valley
3.    Dublin
4.    California
5.    Castro Valley

Last season, Berkeley finished in 2nd place to secure a state meet berth behind Dougherty Valley. This season, the Yellowjackets will be attempting to win their first section title since they were NCS 3A champions in 1982. Dougherty Valley finished just in front of Dublin in the EBAL final and both teams will contend for that coveted last state meet berth in this division. California and Castro Valley will both try to hold form and finish in the top 5 here.

The individual favorite will be EBAL champion and Dougherty Valley senior Liana Lee. She won the hotly contested EBAL varsity race over several runners who will be here as well looking for a different result. Carina Nottingham of Berkeley will be leading the Yellowjackets from the front and will try to keep Lee in her sights. Other runners who will be in the mix are James Logan’s Hope Ott, Melia Prenton and Sabrina Noriega of Dublin, Illiana Niergarten of Castro Valley, and Alyssa Shah of Dougherty Valley.

Boys - (Top 2 teams advance to state meet):

1.    Dublin
2.    Dougherty Valley
3.    California
4.    Berkeley
5.    James Logan

In 20222, Berkeley ended Dublin’s run of 5 straight section titles with an inspired run on the Hayward HS course. This year, Dublin will battle a very familiar foe in league rival Dougherty Valley. They were separated by only 2 points at the EBAL final as Dougherty Valley finished in 4th place with 102 points followed by Dublin in 5th at 104. We should have an equally competitive race here as both teams chase a section team title. California appears to be the next best team ahead of the defending champion, Berkeley whose lead runner Olaf Dietz has been absent from races since October 11th and could give his team quite a boost if he competes. 

The favorite to win the individual title will be Dougherty Valley senior Arrin Sagiraju. He finished in 3rd place in the uber-competitive EBAL championship meet. He also recorded the fastest 3200 at the Campolindo Mid-Season Mania 3200 Invitational with a personal best 9:10.21. Berkeley senior Mason Mullen won his league’s individual title. Teammate Olaf Dietz won the section title here last year but has missed the last several meets. Other runners that will have a strong impact on who wins the team title here include Aidan Stone of Dublin, Noor Tozul Ahmad of Dougherty Valley, Rahul Dutta and Tristan Gan both of Dublin, Eshaan Hussain of California and Rishi Murumkar of James Logan.  

Division II 
Girls - (Top 3 teams advance to state meet):

1.    Monte Vista
2. San Ramon Valley
3/4. Granada/Redwood
5. Amador Valley

We should have some very competitive races today and this race will not disappoint. Monte Vista won last year’s section final to break up Granada’s streak of 6 section titles in a row. The San Ramon Valley girls won this year’s EBAL title just edging Monte Vista 51-55. Granada finished in 3rd place and was within striking distance of both teams and is always a threat come section times in this division. Redwood won the MCAL title over a solid Tamalpais and Archie Williams teams and could be in the mix if any of the top 3 teams have an off day. The Amador Valley girls have been tested all year in the EBAL and will be seeking a top 5 finish.

San Ramon Valley junior Hailey Gunderson finished 2nd to Liana Lee of Dougherty Valley at the EBAL race. Monte Vista’s Alexandra Powell and Granada’s Jana Barron will also be in the mix and will have a huge impact on the team battle.  Monte Vista’s Peyton Dolan and Allie Turns will also be part of the front pack and could make this another runaway for Monte Vista. 

Boys - (Top 4 teams advance to state meet): 

1. Granada
2. Amador Valley
3. De La Salle
4. Redwood
5. College Park/Monte Vista

The Granada boys finished in 2nd place at the state meet last year and qualified for NXN for the first time in school history. They have a different lineup this year but are still potent here following another EBAL league title. Amador Valley appears to be the next best team as they chased Granada to a 2nd place finish in one of the best leagues in Northern California. De La Salle is led by the individual favorite Trey Caldwell and it’s always a huge advantage to start the team scoring with a 1. Redwood usually comes into this meet under the radar but don’t count them out as one of the state meet contenders. College Park and Monte Vista will need an inspired run from their entire lineups to break into the top 4.

De La Salle junior Trey Caldwell cruised at the Roughrider Invitational checking out the state meet course and then unleashed an impressive victory at the legendary Mt. SAC Invitational. He will be the strong favorite here. Redwood senior Ethan Werner appears to be rounding into shape. Niall Monteleone of El Cerrito is in a different division this year and will be a contender here. College Park senior Jack Rattary won the Diablo Athletic League final and was the only runner in that race to dip under the 16-minute mark on the tough Hidden Valley Park course. Other runners in the mix include Daniel Messer of Clayton Valley, Eshan Singh of Granada, and Arran Gill Gulati of Amador Valley.

Division III 
Girls - (Top 4 teams advance to state meet):
1. Campolindo
2. Maria Carrillo
3. Montgomery
4. Las Lomas
5.    Newark Memorial/Northgate

The Campolindo girls have won the last 9 contested section titles starting in 2013. They are strong favorites to win again this year and their 10th straight victory would tie them for the section record with the University girls who achieved the same feat from 1995 to 2004. Campolindo is also tied with University for most section titles in history with 19 so this year may be the tie-breaker for that continuing battle. The next most impressive team might be the Montgomery girls who will have three of the best runners in the field. League mate Maria Carrillo has an even better five and should finish behind Campolindo. The last state meet spot should go to either Las Lomas, Newark Memorial or Northgate. 

The Campolindo girls are the 2-time defending state champions as is Montgomery junior Hanne Thomsen. She is on track to tie former Montgomery runner Sarah Hall’s four state individual titles as she chases state title #3 this season. For you trivia buffs out there, the other two runners who also won 4 state titles were Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley and Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep. Campolindo’s Shea Volkmer is the 2nd best runner in this field and will also be one of the top runners at the state meet. The next two Montgomery runners, Seelah Kittlestrom and Amrie Lacefield, will also be near the front of the field giving their team quite the punch up top. Other runners that will contend for an individual medal will be Kate Kabernina and Daisy Penny both of Campolindo and Maria Carrillo freshman, Ashlin Mallon.

Boys - (Top 4 teams advance to state meet):
1. Campolindo
2. Maria Carrillo
3. Tamalpais
4. Newark Memorial
5. Santa Rosa

Unlike the girls’ Division III race, the boy’s version seems to be wide open with multiple teams capable of claiming the section team title. The contenders are as follows. Campolindo has won the last two section titles and will contend for another section title. Since 2013, Campolindo has won 7 section titles with Maria Carrillo taking the other 2 titles. Maria Carrillo dominated their league scoring 20 points and will certainly contend here. Tamalpais won the MCAL and seem to be on a roll as they head into this meet. Newark Memorial has been a contender the last few years and still has the firepower to have a major impact in this division. Santa Rosa finished in 2nd behind Maria Carrillo at their league final and will certainly be in the hunt for a top 4 finish.
The race for the individual title should also have multiple contenders. Maria Carrillo junior Jack Wilson won the NBL Oak title and has been impressive at multiple individuals. Newark Memoria senior Sid Patel also won his league championship race finishing just a few seconds ahead of teammate Michael Telez. Tamalpais will have its own dynamic duo with Max Dunmire and Lucas Roark. Dunmire finished an impressive 2nd behind Redwood’s Ethan Werner at the MCAL league final. 

Division IV 
Girls - (Top 3 teams advance to state meet):
1. Acalanes
2. Archie Williams
3. St. Mary’s, Berkeley
4. Piedmont
5. Bishop O’Dowd

Several teams at this meet did not win their league titles but are definitely in the hunt for a section title. One such team is Acalanes. They chased one of the best teams in the state, Campolindo, in multiple league meets and should be the favorite here. Archie Williams finished a competitive 3rd place in the MCAL final and will be looking for a top 3 finish ahead of TCAL champion, the St. Mary’s, Berkeley team. Piedmont and Bishop O’Dowd both competed in the same league and appear to be just a step behind the top 3 teams at this moment.

The race for the individual title should be a good one. 2021 section champion Olivia Williams of Acalanes will attempt to fend off 2022 individual champion, Renae Searls of Alhambra. In their last race, Williams finished just a bit ahead of Searls in the Diablo Athletic League championship race. Other runners at the front of the field will include Ani Stieg and Alyssa Silverstein of Archie Williams, Reilly Kreutz of Petaluma, Audrey Carr of Marin Catholic, and Annika Punz of St. Mary’s, Berkeley. 

Boys - (Top 3 teams advance to state meet):
1. Miramonte
2. St. Mary’s Berkeley
3. Albany
4. Archie Williams
5. Bishop O’Dowd

When the divisions were realigned for this section, the goal was the have competitive teams at the state level throughout every division. We certainly have that in this division and we should see quite a battle here. The Miramonte boys halted Campolindo’s streak of league titles and appear to be the slight favorite here. St. Mary’s just edged Albany at their league final by a point and the bigger field here will certainly reward the better pack. Albany is strong up front and could be dangerous with an inspired run from their supporting cast. Archie Williams coach Robyn Berry has done a masterful job peaking her groups for strong November runs. Bishop O’Dowd is definitely in the hunt for a state meet qualifying spot and could break into the top 4 with a strong run here.

The individual favorite will be Albany senior Lucas Cohen. He has proven to be a fearless frontrunner and will not be afraid to set a pace that others can’t sustain. He ran 14:46 on a tough Point Pinole course to claim the TCAL crown. Miramonte senior Asher Patel will lead the way for his team and will be one of the individuals in the hunt for a top finish. Other runners in the mix will be Albany’s Callum McBride, Acalanes’s Logan Farzan and St. Mary’s Collin Kopchick.

Division V 
Girls - (Top 5 teams advance to state meet): 
1. Lick-Wilmerding
2. University
3. Athenian
4. Bay School
5. Convent & Stuart Hall

Lick-Wilmerding and University have had quite a rivalry over the past two decades at their league, section, and state meet competitions. This year is no different as both schools field two of the best teams in the state. Lick-Wilmerding currently holds the upper hand after claiming another BCL West title. The University girls have proven to be great competitors at this meet in the past including 19 section titles. With five teams qualifying, this race will be deep as typically more than 30 teams will toe the starting line. The next best team is Athenian. They easily won the BCL East title with a very solid pack. Bay School appears to be the 4th ranked team and will have an advantage with their two front runners. Convent & Stuart Hall should lock up the last spot for the state meet.

The favorite to win the individual title will be Bay School senior Elsa Krummel. She has proven to be one of the top runners at the state level in this division. Her main competition should come from College Prep senior Talia Green and Lick-Wilmerding sophomore Ella Mogonnam. Athena Ryan of Sonoma Academy won the Coastal Mountain Conference and was a state meet qualifier in the 1600 last spring. University will be led by Lucinda Laughlin and Sophia Nichol. A wild card in the field if she competes is Convent & Stuart Hall runner Sienna Faidi who finished in 2nd place at the state meet last year. Branson’s freshman Hailey Sellers finished a strong 2nd at the MCAL championship meet and will be another standout runner here.

Boys - (Top 5 teams advance to state meet):
1. University
2. College Prep
3. Lick-Wilmerding
4. Convent & Stuart Hall
5. San Domenico/Bay School

This should be the battle between East vs West. College Prep won the BCL East title steamrolling the rest of their league scoring 22 points while University won the tougher BCL West race without one of their top runners. Lick-Wilmerding seems like the next-best team and will be led by one of the top individuals in the field, Sean Green. Convent & Stuart Hall will need the return of front-runner Malcolm Oakes to be in solid shape to qualify for the state meet. The last spot should be a battle between San Domenico and Bay School as they were only separated by 2 points at their league final.

Oakes has been the most impressive runner this fall but missed his league final race with a foot issue. Green won the BCL West title while College Prep senior Owen Irving won the BCL East title dipping under 14 minutes on the 2.6 mile Joaquin Miller Park course. Ben Jones is the lead University runner and will be back here after not running at his league final due to an injury. Lucas Chang of Bay finished in 2nd place in the BCL West final behind Green. Other runners in the mix are Devin Price of San Domenico and Stefan Langridge of International FAIS. Outside of the BCL schools, Kaeden Anderson of Healdsburg and Damian Dinan of McKinleyville could also contend for those 5 individual qualifiers to the state meet.


Andrew said...

Love the write-ups, Albert! Gotta root for my Berkeley Yellow Jackets!
Good luck to all the teams competing Saturday!

Elmo said...

NCS championships are TOMORROW and no one is talking about it?
Thanks for the preview Albert

Anonymous said...

I think everything has been said already but will make some observatons. D2 boys will have the two best teams in the section going in. Granada & Amador Valley with Granada a clear favorite. Maramonte boys & San Ramon Valley girls are the most improved. Campolindo girls are going for another state championship and are the best team in NCS going in. With that said, anything can happen and most certainly will. Good luck to all.

bhc3 said...

In the preview, Athenian girls' tight pack running was noted. I looked at their 1-5 gap from NCS yesterday. 17 seconds! That is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Spot on with the Dublin Boys call.

Anonymous said...

Hey Albert. Any updates for preparations for the state meet?

Popular Posts