Claremont eyes repeat sweep in Division 2

Division 2 Boys

Samuel Boone of Mt. Carmel is the top returning finisher from the 2016 State final. (Clark Kranz)

Runner to beat: Elias Opsahl, Redlands East Valley

Team to beat: Claremont

Elias Opsahl of Redlands East Valley could be the runner to beat Saturday at Woodward Park. (Lizette Adams)

Individual Competition

Mt. Carmel senior Samuel Boone was third at the CIF-State Division 2 final last year and is the top returning finisher. Boone is just rounding into shape after being injured. He was second in the San Diego Section final to Del Norte senior Jaron Farnham. Boone was 13th overall as a sophomore. If he's at full strength, he could emerge as the runner to beat here. 

Redlands East Valley senior Elias Opsahl as the state's top D2 time at three miles and entered the Southern Section final with the top time out of prelims. Through more than half of Saturday's final at the Riverside City Championship Course, Opsahl appeared well on his way to victory. But on a morning that progressively became warm and dry and breezy, Canyon Country Canyon junior Nathan Danforth wouldn't let Opsahl run away, sprinting from third to first in the final 400 meters for the D2 title in 14:50.20. Opsahl was three seconds back and third-place Alexis Garcia, a junior from Newport Harbor, was another four back. 

Don't sleep on West Ranch senior Preston Pope. He was 14th overall last year (10th among team-scoring runners). Pope and junior teammate Isaiah Seidman placed 4-5 at the Section final to help West Ranch to a third place finish and a State Meet berth. 

Bakersfield Highland senior Moises Medrano, the two-time Central Section champion, makes his third appearance at State. He's won 17 races over the past two years. He was second at Mt. SAC and 11th at the Clovis Invite (15:23.30) as his blemishes on this season's resume. He won the Junior 2 race at the Foot Locker West Regionals last year (16:33.70), finishing in front of Dublin senior Adrian Schroeder

Mountain View St. Francis senior Shyam Kumar, 20th overall at State last year (15th among team-scoring runners), has posted among the state's fastest D2 times for three miles and 5K this season. He was recently a narrow second in the Central Section final, losing to Andrew Hill HS senior Jorge Estrella by .10. 

Note that Kumar was sixth overall (15.17.00) and the top D2 runner at the Oct. 7 Clovis Invitational contested on the State Championship course at Woodward Park. Schroeder was eighth (15:18.60) and his Dublin classmate Gaurav Phanse was ninth (15:20.10).

AJ Reyes (698) and Vincente Huerta (696) helped lead Claremont to the CIF-SS D1 crown. (Lizette Adams)

Team Competition

Despite losing its top two runners from 2016, including State champion Owen Bishop, Claremont appears restocked well enough to repeat. Juniors Ryan Congill was 11th overall at the SS final, Aaron Reyes was 16th (14th among team-scoring runners) and Vicente Huerta was 19th (16th) leading the 10+14+16+32+36 finish.

The top two challengers to the Wolfpack should come from the Bay Area. Dublin has been wrecking the North Coast competition all season, and they also finished second at the Clovis Invitational as well as finishing 3rd at Woodbridge, defeating all Southern Section competition except Great Oak in both cases. With their three-headed monster of up front, the Gaels are #2 in our Flo50 Boys Team RankingsMountain View St. Francis dominated the Central Coast Section race, winning with 16 points and a 0:46 1-5 split, earning the No. 14 slot in the Flo50.

The Southern Section produced seven of the top 10 teams last season. Loyola, second at State last year, is now in D1. Saugus, a perennial contender that won in 2013 and was second in 2012, was second to Claremont in the Section final, posting a 20 second 1-5 split with a 15:40 average. It's top runner, senior Albert Serrano, was 25th overall, 22nd among team-scoring runners. West Ranch, third at the Section final, posted a 1:21 1-5 split but 15:32 average, equalling that of Claremont.  

Bakersfield Highland's Moises Medrano could surprise in the D2 final. (Orlando Ramirez/USA Today)

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