Countdown to XC Day 9: Mission Viejo

This may be the toughest team in the top 15 to place. If Kelli Hines is fully healthy (and her truncated track season raises questions), the Diablos are easily a top 10 team entering the season (with potential to be top 5 overall) and a threat to make the podium in Division 2. Even if that's not the case, Ashley Johnson is a capable #1 runner in her own right and the team is deep enough to still be top 20 overall and make it to the state meet. So, it's a case of deciding between "really good" and "great," which means Mission Viejo definitely belongs in the countdown but I don't know exactly where. The Diablos are also a great example of why 3200 results alone are not enough to track the progress of a year-round program, as this team puts heavy emphasis on the 800 and 1600 instead. And they excel - Johnson led 7 returners that ran under 5:30, including an eye-opening 5:06 from returning #6 Emma Hicken that could be a sign of great things to come from her this fall. Two other potential top 7 runners to watch: Morgan Calcagnie, who stepped up to the 1600 for the first time in her career this spring, and posted a 5:20; and Caitlin Ree, who dropped way down to a new PR of 5:25 (both were just outside the returning top 7 in cross country). It's also worth noting that Hines did clock 10:29 in March, an all-time PR, before shutting down for the rest of the spring. That's a load of talent to have in the pipeline for this fall, and I predict a big step forward team-wise from last year's 11th place finish in Division 2.

Team Statistics:

  • 3 Mile Improvement Rating: 17th
  • 5K Returning Rankings: 15th
  • 3 Mile Returning Rankings: 8th
  • 1600 Returning Rankings: 5th

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.