2015 Stanford XC Invitational Meet Preview

Now that we are nearing the end of September, it's time for teams to start showing their varsity team arsenal in advance of the section and state meets later in the season. There is no better meet in Northern California that brings all the best varsity teams in this area (and out) than the Stanford Invitational. Despite the typical late September heat, eye opening performances will take place throughout the day with the usual contenders as well as new talent emerging, making their first major statement. 2783 athletes are signed up to compete following the schedule below which includes the 2 college races surrounded by all the divisional and seeded races.

Schedule of Events
9:00AM Varsity Boys 5K Divisions 4
9:25AM Varsity Girls 5K Divisions 4
9:50AM College Race 6K Women's
10:30AM College Race 8K Men's
11:00AM Varsity Boys 5K Division 1
11:30AM Varsity Girls 5K Division 1
12:00PM Varsity Boys 5K Seeded
12:30PM Varsity Girls 5K Seeded
1:00PM Varsity Boys 5K Division 2
1:30PM Varsity Girls 5K Division 2
2:00PM Varsity Boys 5K Division 3
2:30PM Varsity Girls 5K Division 3
3:00PM Varsity Boys 5K Division 5
3:30PM Varsity Girls 5K Division 5

Division IV (Boys and Girls)
Bishop Amat (SS) won the 2014 Stanford Invitational Division IV race and followed that up with a state championship in the same division. They will compete here once again this year although this race follows a rare league loss for them against Cathedral. They will be led by senior Adrian Diaz who easily outdistanced the field in their last league meet. Santa Ynez (SS) is also one of the leading contenders for the Division IV state crown and will give what appears to be a less than full strength Bishop Amat team all they can handle. Salesian and Oaks Christian (SS) have been an equally strong contenders in the Southern Section and will be here as well. The top Northern team that will challenge all the above Southern Section teams will be Sir Francis Drake (NCS). They are the top ranked North Coast Section team as well as one of the top 10 teams in the state. McKinleyville (NCS) and Arcata (NCS) will renew their cross town rivalry here after going head to head in a league meet this week.

Morgin Coonfield (NCS) of McKinleyville will be one of the favorites to win the state individual crown in this Division. She will compete in the seeded race while her teammates will compete here. That makes Cate Ratliff of Santa Cruz (1418 above) as the overwhelming favorite to win here following her course record breaking time at the Earlybird Invitational. Her teammates also broke the team time course record at Toro Park and will be aiming at the top team spot here. The leading SS team will be Mayfield which is currently the top ranked team in the state. Bishop Amat (SS) just like their boys are right there in the mix and will not be a surprise if they can take the team title here. They will be led by one of the top individuals in the field, Ally Palomino. Piedmont is the top team coming out of the North Coast Section as the defending 2014 NCS team champions. They have also already faced some tough competition at the Woodbridge Invite and will be ready to face a top-notch field here. Another team on the rise in this division is Cardinal Newman (NCS). They showed well at Ed Sias and will look to continue their fine racing over the 5k distance. Abbey Meck will lead San Lorenzo Valley (CCS) and will aim for another top 5 finish as an individual.

Division I (Boys and Girls)
This is always an interesting race due to the fact that many of the top teams here choose to move up to the seeded race. Three of those teams will be Arcadia (SS), Bellarmine (CCS) and Jesuit (SJS) who will both compete in the Division I race here as well as the seeded race. Despite competing with their "JV" teams, all three teams will challenge for top spots here. Another factor is some of the smaller schools end up getting shut out of their own divisional race and move up here just like King City did last year, finishing in 2nd place. San Benito (CCS) is always a hard charging team that is never afraid to go from the front so look for them early in the race. De La Salle (NCS) has been more than just a football school and their almost as successful XC team competes extremely well yearly in this division. Stanford Invite high school host Palo Alto (CCS)will be among the contenders as well after winning one of the heats at the Lowell Invitational. They will be led by Kent Slaney, the individual winner at the same meet.

The Division I field for the girls will be similar to the boys in that two of the favorites will be running their 2nd tier runners here. Arcadia (SS) and The Woodlands (Texas) will be throwing it down in the seeded race but they are always plenty deep enough to challenge at meets with their second wave. Woodcreek (SJS) has been a strong program and will contend for the team title here. Caroline Gee of Cupertino (CCS) is the fastest returner as she finished in 2nd place last year. She has been nursing an injury this summer so it's tentative whether she competes or not. Alexandra Newsom of James Logan (NCS) is another fearless runner who will not be afraid to mix it up with the lead pack. Menlo Atherton (CCS) has been one of the top Division I teams in their section and will be aiming for a top 5 finish here.

Seeded Races (Boys and Girls)

The next races will feature some of the top teams and individuals in and out of the state of California. The boys' race favorite will be Jesuit (SJS), the hottest team in Northern California. They finished in 7th place at last year's seeded race but are at another level this season with a new team time record at their "Meeting of the Marauders" as well as torching the next three meets, Del Oro, Jesuit/Davis Jamboree and the De La Salle Invitational. They will be challenged by a very familiar opponent in section rival Davis (SJS). Those two teams will also feature two of the individual favorites in Sean Kurdy (Jesuit) and Michael Vernau (Davis). Kurdy has been nursing a sore ankle for a few weeks but may be ready to unleash his best performance of the season. Vernau has been steamrolling all opponents early in the season and will aim at keeping his undefeated streak. Arcadia (SS), Trabuco Hills (SS) and Bellarmine (CCS)-above courtesy of Bellarmine school webstie, are three more top programs looking at upstaging the already mentioned teams. Phillip Rocha, Arcadia's lead man, will also contend for the individual title. He is definitely one of the most experienced racers in California and was part of Arcadia's NXN championship team as a rookie runner. Luis Grijalva of Armijo (SS) won his heat at the Woodbridge Classic with a sub 15 minute effort.

The girls' race will also feature some of the top teams as well as individuals. Fiona O'Keeffe of Davis (SJS) will be the strong favorite to win the individual title. She is also backed by a strong group of girls behind her aiming for their 2nd straight Stanford team title. They defeated section rival Bella Vista (SJS) by the narrowest of margins with the 6th man tie-breaker last season. Arcadia (SS) is one of the best Division I teams in the Southern Section and will travel North to make a statement. The Woodlands (Texas), Trabuco Hills (SS), Eleanor Roosevelt (SS) and Torrey Pines (SDS) will take aim at Davis and Arcadia and should not be overlooked. Several other schools like La Costa Canyon (SDS) and Redwood (NCS) will also be in the mix and come into the season with high hopes of making waves at the state meet. Individually, Tahlia Adams of Eleanor Roosevelt (CCS) and Morgin Coonfield of McKinleyville (NCS) will chase O'Keeffe, hoping to keep her within sight and punch a fast time on the grassy 5k course.

Division II (Boys and Girls)
At last year's Stanford Invite, the order of finish in the Division II boys' race was Steele Canyon (SDS), Willow Glen (CCS) and Maria Carrillo (NCS). This year should be no different with those three teams in contention for the team title here. They have proven to be top programs in their own respective section and have been able to reload season after season without missing a beat. The favorite to win the individual title will be junior Anthony Ocegueda of Edward C. Reed who finished in 3rd place in last year race as a sophomore. Ben Zaeske of Los Altos (CCS) and Luis Pina of Steele Canyon (SDS) finished right behind Ocegueda last year and will both be back aiming for a higher finish. Justin Robison of Lynbrook (CCS) and Nick Downs of Bishop O'Dowd (NCS)will also be part of the lead pack and will hope to lead their respective teams to a high finish. Another contending team out of the North Coast Section is Dublin. They showed well at last week's Farmer Invitational on the NCS championship course at Hayward HS.

The Division 2 girls competition will certainly be interesting without a few of the top guns (Redwood and St. Francis Mt. View) who have chosen to race in the seeded race. The competition will still be tight with St. Francis, Sacramento (SJS), Gunn (CCS), and Maria Carrillo (NCS). The top returning team will be Glendora (SS) which finished 2nd at last year's meet. The fastest returning runner in this field will be Riley Mason of Leland (CCS). She finished in 5th place last year. She won't be the favorite however as Gillian Meeks of Gunn continues the strong tradition of Titan runners. She won the Division I race last year in a sub 18 minute effort. Lauren Jacob of Los Altos (CCS) is another veteran runner who will be in the mix among the top individual runners.

Division III (Boys and Girls)

Paso Robles (SS) won the Division III title here and will be favorites once again. They lost their top two runners from last year but return everyone else. They are once again one of the top Division III teams in the Southern Section and will be contenders to reach the state meet podium at Woodward Park. They will be challenged by an improved Campolindo (NCS) boys team (above) that will aim for another section title and a top finish at state. The individual favorite will be Tom Robey of Las Lomas (NCS) who comes into the meet undefeated. He should be challenged by Cameron Gaskell of Acalanes (NCS) who is the fastest returner from last year's race (8th place) as well as Zachary Katzman of Skyline (OAK).

The girls competition will feature two teams. The first is the 2nd place team from last year's state meet, Campolindo (NCS). They lost two stellar runners from last year (Brighie Leach and Toni Finnane) but just like any good programs, the Cougars are contending again and will be aiming for a victory here. They will strongly be challenged by one of the premier programs in the Central Coast Section, the Aptos girls. While Santa Cruz may have broken the Toro Park course team time record, Aptos was right there with them and with a tighter pack, seem to be the stronger team. Bishop O'Dowd (NCS) has also proven to be a top team in the past few years and will be aiming to break up the Campolindo/Aptos duo. The favorite for the individual title will be defending section and state meet champion, Chloe Hansel of Las Lomas (NCS).

Division V (Boys and Girls)
Last but definitely not least will be the Division V competitions. The Northern teams have represented themselves quite well at the state meet especially teams coming out of the North Coast Section. St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS) has been the best of the bunch with four straight NCS titles as well as 2 state championships in the past four years. They are led by junior Cooper Teare who will be the strong favorite to take the individual title. SJND is strong once again but now find themselves chasing a well stocked Marin Academy quintet that are still quite competitive even after the loss of Trevor Reinhart. Marin Academy is now led by senior Henry Fleming. Another individual who also will be part of the front pack will be Athenian junior, Dawson Reckers. Three more NCS schools will also take aim at a top 4 finish with Lick-Wilmerding, University SF and Sonoma Academy. St. Francis CCC, Nueva and Crystal Springs Uplands will battle for CCS supremacy.

On the girls side, the strong favorite will be defending state champion, Flintridge Prep (SS)-above photo courtesy of Flintridge Prep. They will travel up north in order to make a statement against some of the top teams out of the North Coast Section like Sonoma Academy, Branson, Lick-Wilmerding, College Prep, University SF, St. Joseph Notre Dame and Urban. Sonoma Academy will have the individual favorite in sophomore Rylee Bowen who on the state Division V race in 2014. The team will be missing a couple of their top runners but they will still have a presence at the head of the field. Branson will be led by sophomore Grace Dailey who won the Stanford race as a freshman last season. She missed the state XC meet but rebounded nicely with a solid Track and Field season. St. Joseph Notre Dame will have three of the top girls in the field with Kiera Marshall, Beatrice Levy and newcomer Emily Perez. Team favorite Flintridge Prep will be led by junior Natalie O'Brien.