Central Coast Section Finals Preview

The first Central Coast Section (CCS) meet was held in 1965 at Vasona Park. The next competitions are listed below until 1977 when the Crystal Springs course became the yearly host of the meet except for the rain delayed section meet in 1984 which took place at the College of San Mateo.

1965- (1st CCS finals) Vasona Park
1966- Crystal Springs (2.0 course)
1967- York School
1968- Hellyer Park
1969- Crystal Springs (2.25 course)
1970- Golden Gate Park
1971- Alum Rock
1972- Mt Madonna Park
1973- Crystal Springs (2.95 course, current course)
1974- Hellyer Park
1975- Crystal Springs
1976- Hellyer Park
1977- Crystal Springs

Starting in 2002, the championship meet has alternated between the Crystal Springs course (odd years) and Toro Park in Salinas (even years). The current course configuration of 2.95 miles has been the same since 1971 and much of the credit for the design and maintenance of the course goes to Bob Rush. He will be in attendance this Saturday so if you get a moment, feel free to thank him for his tireless efforts of one of the most famous courses in California.

Being that this is an even numbered year, the 2016 Central Coast Section meet was scheduled for Toro Park. Unfortunately, the Soberanes fire derailed that plan and CCS officials announced the move of their biggest meet of the year back to the Crystal Springs course.

Time Schedule

The time schedule for this Saturday will be as follows with the award ceremonies for both sexes taking place after the 2nd race in each division.
10:00am Boys Division IV
10:35am Girls Division IV
11:10am Boys Division V
11:45am Girls Division V
12:20pm Boys Division I
12:55pm Girls Division I
1:30pm Boys Division II
2:05pm Girls Division II
2:40pm Boys Division III
3:15pm Girls Division III

Live Results

Course Records
Mitch Kingery San Carlos HS 14:28 1973
Ellen Lyons Bishop Kelly, Boise Idaho 16:30.6 1979

Course Map

Boys Division IV (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
The first race of the day will pit two teams that have had a lot of success in this division, Half Moon Bay and San Lorenzo Valley. The HMB boys have won many section titles over the years including last year. They defeated the 2nd place SLV team 96 to 101. Both teams will once again contend for the section title this year but have taken two different roads to get to this point. Veteran HMB coach Paul Farnsworth had to reload from last season after losing four seniors from his section winning team. SLV has a new coach this year after long time coach Rob Collins moved to Colorado. Their team looks very much like last year's team with their top 6 runners all back. HMB won the PAL championship this past Saturday entering the meet with a lot of positive energy. SLV lost narrowly at the SCCAL final to Aptos and will be looking to secure another section crown. The race for the 3rd and final state meet berth could be a repeat from last year as Greenfield and Scotts Valley tied for 3rd at 118 with Greenfield taking the tie breaker with a faster 6th man. The contenders this year include Greenfield, Sacred Heart Prep, Pacific Grove and King City. The leading contenders for the individual title will include 2-time defending champion Roman Munoz, King City, Sam Lavorato, Palma, Chris Anderson, San Lorenzo Valley and Brett Anstrom, Sacred Heart Prep.

Girls Division IV (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
The Santa Cruz girls had quite a cross country season in 2015 led by all world Cate Ratliff. She won the individual state title with the fastest time of the day as Santa Cruz made their first podium in history with a second place finish. This season, junior Mari Friedman has led the way for SC and they seem to be the favorite to repeat as section champs. They will be pushed by league and section rival San Lorenzo Valley. Senior Abbey Meck leads the way for SLV with an eye on another section title. After the top two teams, there appears to be a few teams to be in the mix for the last state meet berth. Menlo School has had some excellent individuals the past few years including 2014 Footlocker finalist, Lizzie Lacy. This year, the Knights will be aiming to qualify as a girls' team for the first time in school history. They will be led by senior Eliza Crowder who has chased two of the favorites when it comes to the individual title in the WBAL (more on those two in a second). Chasing Menlo will be the Pacific Grove girls as well as league rival and neighbor, Sacred Heart Prep. The individual crown should be contested between last year's 2nd place finisher, Niki Iyer of Harker and Friedman of Santa Cruz who finished in 3rd place. The wild card in this race appears to be Natalie Novitsky of Sacred Heart Prep. She defeated Iyer at the Stanford Invitational and has had two other races against her in league.

Boys Division V (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
This division continues to improve with quality top individuals as well as the amount of competitive teams. Last year, a very strong St. Francis Central Coast Catholic nearly won their first section title but were just edged out by Crystal Springs Uplands on a tie breaker. York, a strong contender for many years with veteran coach Steve Peters, finished in 3rd place making their annual pilgrimage to Fresno. This year, Nueva is eligible to compete at their first CCS meet and they have made their presence known with strong performances at the Stanford and Mt. SAC Invitationals. They have been ranked in the top 15 overall in CCS all season long and will be led by one of the individual favorites, senior Jake Lange. Crystal Springs Uplands will be led by junior Nicholas Medearis. The battle for the coveted three state meet positions should come down to Nueva, Crystal Springs Uplands, Eastside and York. Eastside has competed very well in the WBAL all season while York won their league's championship once again this season. Along with Lange and Medearis, St. Francis CCC sophomore EJ Kelly and senior teammate Rico Braxton will all battle up front chasing the individual title.

Girls Division V (Top 2 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
The Division V girls have had a rough time breaking into the top 10 at the state meet which resulted in losing an automatic qualifying position. With only the top 2 teams advancing to the state meet, the margin for error for the contending teams is quite small. Last year, the top two teams Crystal Springs Uplands and Priory finished in a tie with both teams advancing to the state meet. CSUS won the tie breaker and extended their streak of state meet berths to 12 dating back to their participation in NCS. This year, two new contenders appear to be the favorites to advance with Castilleja (back in Division V) and Nueva (first year eligible). Nueva appears to be the slight favorite with senior Juliette Love among the contenders for the individual title. Castilleja just won the WBAL meet netting their league championship by 2 points. CSUS appears to be the wild card team as the 3rd place team out of the WBAL and watch out for Notre Dame Salinas, the league champion out of MBL Pacific. The individual favorite appears to be former Castilleja and current Pacific Collegiate runner, Alex Stout who won the Stanford Invitational handily earlier this season. Along with Lange, another runner to watch will be Notre Dame Salinas freshman, Angela Leavitt.

Boys Division I (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
Bellarmine will be the strong favorite to claim their 3rd straight Division I title. They have faced some of the best teams in California this season and have one of their strongest teams in school history. Junior Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau has rallied late in the season as he does in his races by taking over as the #1 runner for the Bells. At the recently concluded WCAL meet, Meika was able to dip under the magical 15 minute barrier on the Crystal Springs by running 14:59.6. Fellow junior Alex Scales gives Bellarmine a strong duo at the front which will make them tough to beat here and a potential podium contender at the state meet. Chasing the Bellarmine boys will be a strong Palo Alto team led by senior Kent Slaney. With a good effort out of the Vikings, PA is one of the few teams in CCS that could field a team with all sub 16 minute runners. Their assistant coach, Michael Granville, still holds the high school record in the 800 at 1:46.45. Fortunately for all teams in Division I, the tie breaker will not be a coach's 800 although Bellarmine coach Patrick McCrystle had a best of 1:50.70 when he ran for Jesuit.

Girls Division I (Top 2 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
The best team on the boys side, Bellarmine, resides in Division I. The best team on the girls side also resides in Division I with the Homestead Mustangs. They took over the top rankings in CCS in early October from two SCCAL schools (Aptos and Santa Cruz) and have stayed on top every since. They have raced all over the state of California and faced a lot of the top ranked teams in the state. They are led by junior Elena Kamas who seems to have rebounded nicely from a tough sophomore CCS meet. With two teams advancing to the state meet, it appears the following teams will battle it out for the final spot after the very solid Homestead team and they are Monta Vista, San Benito and Los Gatos. Individually, Kamas will be challenged by Cupertino freshman, Oriana Jalal and fellow Mustang, Lindsay Allen.

Boys Division II (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
The favorite to win the team title here will be St. Francis, a tough battle tested team out of the WCAL. Although they couldn't quite get by Bellarmine, their league championship race resembled a dual meet and the Lancers have definitely closed the gap with the always tough Bells. Willow Glen has been another team in CCS that has contended yearly and they will not make it easy on St. Francis. They will be led by one of the top runners in CCS, junior Zach Walker, but will need a stronger effort from their 5th man to have a shot at the section title. Another WCAL team, Archbishop Mitty, will contend for the 3rd and final state meet qualifying spot and will hope to stay in front of a team that is within striking distance, Gunn. Individually, the top two runners in this field both belong to St. Francis with junior Shyam Kumar and sophomore Colton Colonna. Chasing the Lancer duo will be Westmont senior Julian Adam as well as the already mentioned Zach Walker of Willow Glen.

Girls Division II (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
St. Francis should score double team victories in this division with the girls coming in as strong favorites here. They rolled at the WCAL finals scoring 29 points as they were led by the suddenly very healthy and fit, Emily Skahill. While the top spot appears to be hammered down by the Lancer girls, the next two spots could very well be up for grabs. Mt. View will hope that their strong duo (Serena Myjer and Gabi Joffeup front will carry them to a 2nd place finish as most teams can't match those two low sticks. The chase for the 3rd position is extremely crowded and many teams will walk onto the Crystal Springs course with state meet aspirations. Those teams will include Gunn, Presentation, Willow Glen, Lynbrook, MittyValley Christian SJ and Aragon. That is seven schools chasing one spot which should make this race the most competitive for the girls in any division. Skahill appears to be the strong favorite for the individual title with her closest pursuer being Maryam Jawid of Lynbrook. Along with the Mt. View duo, watch out for Aragon sophomore Emma Madgic who will try to lead her PAL championship team to another state meet after qualifying in Division III last year.

Boys Division III (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
The favorite position for the team title in this division appears to be in the hands of St. Ignatius. They finished a distant 3rd at the WCAL final but in front of their league and divisional rivals, Archbishop Riordan and Sacred Heart Cathedral. SHC has the better 5th man and they may be slight favorites over Riordan in a bigger section field. One thing for certain is that if SHC qualifies for state meet, there will be a giant celebration and coach Andy Chan might leave the course with a chrome dome. The team that should worry the three WCAL teams will be Aptos. They won the SCCAL title over a very competitive San Lorenzo Valley team and have a coach that has routinely had individuals and teams perform very well at CCS. Trevor Paulbitski of Riordan appears to have the fastest time on the Crystal Springs course in this division with his 16:01.7 at their league final. Nick Hollister of St. Ignatius and Alex Tait of Hillsdale will also be in the hunt and within striking distance. 

Girls Division III (Top 3 teams qualify to CA state XC meet)
I wrote the following last year and it still applies to this year's race. "If one team has nothing to worry about this coming Saturday, it's the Aptos girls. They will be OVERWHELMING FAVORITES to win another section title and could potentially sweep the top five spots. Any other team in this division thinking about winning the team title should stop immediately and select a more reasonable goal." The only part that will not happen is a sweep by the Mariners. Although they are still quite strong, there are some tough individuals that will make the sweep a very unlikely event. Aptos junior Marea Zlatunich should be one of the favorites to win the individual title but it won't be easy. Live Oak junior Kaylah Grant will keep Zlatunich honest. Mills senior runner Sarah Gayer won the PAL title and will stay within striking distance in case either of the top two runners falter at any point during the race. St. Ignatius should finish in second place behind the defending Division III state champion Aptos girls. The 3rd spot seems to be up for grabs with Sobrato being a slight favorite but don't discount Sacred Heart Cathedral who might be up for an inspired effort after watching their teammates potentially qualify to the state meet in the preceding race.