Southern Section Division 5 Preview
Both individual section champs are back for a title defense, and both want to finish their careers with another win. Evan Patinelli (Flintridge Prep) won the boys' race by 10 seconds overall, and was 13 seconds ahead of the next-best returner, Ryan Vreeke (Valley Christian Cerritos). You should also consider Xian Shively (Polytechnic Pasadena) and Josh Rupprecht, a teammate of Vreeke, as contenders this fall. Notice the two from Valley Christian there, which is the reason why I consider them the primary challengers for the 2017 title. Our database projects the Crusaders as the favorites coming in, but you definitely don't count out Flintridge Prep until they're defeated. Desert Christian (Lancaster) lost four seniors from last year's winning team, but they return a solid junior nucleus; it just might take them another year to get back to the top.
Brentwood's Bianca Pourmousa (above) is a solid favorite to repeat as the girls' champion, as her 17:38 at the 2016 section finals was 21 seconds better than the #2 returner. On the season, teammates Sophie Gitlin and Sasha Codiga are both candidates to challenge for the individual title, and that means Flintridge Prep is in the driver seat to win again. Watch out for St. Margaret's, who fielded a top 7 that included 4 freshmen and a sophomore at last year's CIF meet, and finished in 3rd despite that lack of experience.