Countdown to XC Day 23: Arcadia Boys

One of the behind-the-scenes goals I had when developing my Improvement Ratings metric was to measure the impact of coaching, team culture, and other less-tangible factors in the long-term success of a cross country program. Take Arcadia, for example: did the program suffer with the loss of Coach Jim O'Brien, who was let go in 2013? State meet success seems to indicate the answer is yes - the Apaches have only made the state meet twice since his firing, winning in 2013 and finishing 9th in 2015. On the other hand, using the Improvement Ratings, Arcadia has only slipped from 26th-best in California over the last 5 years to 29th-best in a 3-year time frame, which is hardly any change at all. Perhaps a downturn in talent has been more to blame for the two-year absence from the state meet than the coaching change?

In any case, this year's Arcadia team has the potential to be sneaky-good, and could be a sleeper in Division 1. Of course, getting out of that murderer's row of talented teams and making the state meet will be a tall order, but the Apaches have depth and a pair of leaders up front in Jack Ruan and Soichiro Nagao. It was Nagao showing the way during track season, where Arcadia displayed the beginnings of what could be a formidable pack this fall. The team showed solid overall development in the spring, and with their equally solid track record for year-to-year improvement, this is a team that should have a chance to break their streak of missed state meets.

Team Statistics:

  • 3 Mile Improvement Rating: 29th
  • 3 Mile Returning Rankings: 12th
  • 1600 Returning Rankings: 34th

The purpose of the Countdown To XC is not to predict the top 30 teams in the state for the upcoming season (although we certainly hope that the top 15-20 teams are included in the countdown at some point). The goal is to recognize thirty teams to watch as cross country begins, using data to uncover squads with strengths that stand out from the pack. The countdown is also not meant to be in a strict order, because it's impossible to sort out several teams of similar strength at this point of the season.