In tracking 6 years of season-to-season cross country improvement, I've noticed an interesting pattern. A team often finishes high at the state meet the year after they make a big improvement in terms of team average time. This means a team does most of their improving the season before they break through, which makes sense (and also explains how hard it can be to get to the top, especially if graduation takes a hit between the two seasons). That is the patter that Sir Francis Drake took in 2016 (big numerical improvement) and 2017 (finishing 2nd in Division 4 at the state meet). However, there is one important extra factor to note in the case of the Pirates: they return their entire top 5 from that meet, which is rare for the kind of pattern I'm describing. That front 5 is one of the best in California: they rank 5th in overall returning 5K rankings and 4th best among returning teams from the state meet, which is exceptional for a D4 school. Arguably the best part of this team is the interchangeability among the top 5 (and the top 3 were also within 3 seconds of each other in the 1600, all under 4:24, this spring). This has all the hallmarks of a team ready to compete for the D4 title, and only a noticeable lack of depth could keep the Pirates from reaching their potential.
By the way, have you noticed that Division 4 seems to be unusually loaded on the boys' side this year? Should be interesting to watch that competition develop over the course of the season.
- 5K Improvement Rating: 4th
- 5K Returning Rankings: 5th
- 1600 Returning Rankings: 25th