St. Francis had a season for the ages in 2017, winning the Division 2 state title and earning a spot in Portland for Nike Cross Nationals. Remarkably, the Lancers could be even better in 2018: they only lost one senior from their top 7! Of course, that senior was #1 runner Shyam Kumar, who finished 3rd in the state individually, so it's not going to be easy to fill his shoes. Still, if everyone in their returning top 7 improves solidly (not even counting on big leaps forward or anything, just steady improvement), this is definitely a team that can repeat their success from last fall. Over the last three years, St. Francis has consistently shown the ability to out-improve most of their competition, but when we're talking about the top 4 teams in California they ALL have great year-to-year progression. That's why I like to look at spring season results as a concrete indication of year-round development, in addition to looking at past history - and I really like the Lancer's track results. Colton Colonna and Juan Pablo Garcia ran 4:13 and 4:18, respectively, in the 1600; Eric Eng and Aiden Maddison had impressive 3200 times; and the team may have discovered a new top 7-caliber runner in Benjamin Garver, who broke 10 in the 3200 on the heels of a 17-minute cross country season. In the end, the Lancers aren't quite as deep program-wide as the two teams I listed ahead of them - but I consider the top 3 (or maybe even 4) to be essentially even, which made it very hard to determine the best order for this countdown. St. Francis could legitimately be the best team in California this fall, and it wouldn't surprise me at all.
Nike Cross Nationals115th
- 5K Improvement Rating: 9th
- 3 Mile Improvement Rating: 5th
- 5K Returning Rankings: 1st
- 3 Mile Returning Rankings: 10th
- 3200 Returning Rankings: 4th
- 1600 Returning Rankings: 4th