Countdown to XC Day 13: Vista Del Lago (SJ)

My Improvement Rating metric helps me uncover some interesting long-term patterns, and sometimes I'm a bit surprised by the programs it spotlights. One example is the Vista Del Lago girls, who have the 5th-best record of year-to-year 5K improvement in California over the last 3 years. Don't get me wrong, I knew the Eagles have a good program, especially after their superb 2017 season in which they won the SJS title and finished 2nd in the state in Division 3. I didn't realize the HUGE leap forward this team made way back in 2015, which has pushed them to yearly prominence ever since - as is often the case, the ultimate state-wide success for a team comes a year or two after they make "the leap" in terms of program-wide time improvement. The Eagles did lose two important seniors from last fall's squad, which hurts their expected depth (the one concern I have when looking at their projected roster). That Improvement Rating suggests Vista Del Lago will be able to develop some runners to fill in the gaps and support returning #1 runner Anna Vogtmann with another strong top 7 this year. One indication of this improvement: Natasha Evans was the Eagles' #2 returning 1600 and 3200 runner in the spring, which could be a sign that she is ready to run with Rachel Burgoyne in the team's top 3. There is a very good chance this team will be just as good as it was last year despite the losses, and I predict a repeat of last year - which means Vista Del Lago should be in contention for the D3 title yet again.

Team Statistics:

  • 5K Improvement Rating: 5th
  • 5K Returning Rankings: 14th
  • 3200 Returning Rankings: 18th
  • 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.