Countdown to XC Day 2: Dana Hills Boys

Dana Hills lost returning #1 runner Caleb Niednagel to La Costa Canyon, which definitely hurts - he was factored into all of the team's returning rankings, including the spring 1600 and 3200. While the Dolphins did get a high-quality transfer in as well (Cole Stark from Canyon Anaheim Hills), it's hard to replace the runners that finished 9th (graduated senior Jack Langraf) and 10th (Niednagel) in the Division 1 state meet. Mind you, I don't think this team is going to lose ground; in fact, I have them just about dead even with the three schools ahead of them in the countdown. There is plenty of reason for optimism here: the program is very deep, they have been the state's 6th-best at year-to-year 5K improvement (1st for 3 miles), and they showed outstanding depth on the track. Carrick Denker broke out with a 4:17 in the 1600, showing he is in line to become the next in a long line of Dana Hills stars. He may have competition up front from Simon Fuller, whose 9:18 3200 in the spring was a PR. Overall, the Dolphins put 7 returners under 10 minutes and 13 at 4:40 or faster (20 that broke 5). This team's weak point last year was a gap between their top 3 and the rest of the pack, and that needs to improve for Dana Hills to be back in the top 3 of a loaded D1. This team has a fairly wide range of possibilities for the fall, from just making the podium in their ultra-competitive division to being the best team in the state and taking a trip to NXN. When you're considering Dana Hills, it's MUCH safer to expect the better outcome, because this is one of the country's most consistently strong programs.

Team Statistics:

  • 5K Improvement Rating: 6th
  • 3 Mile Improvement Rating: 1st
  • 5K Returning Rankings: 3rd
  • 3 Mile Returning Rankings: 1st
  • 3200 Returning Rankings: 2nd
  • 1600 Returning Rankings: 1st

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.