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.
CALEB NIEDNAGEL (transferred)
- 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