MileSplitCA Top 10 Girls Teams of XC Season

The Top 10 Girls Teams of the CA XC Season:

10. Lick Wilmerding

The Tigers upset the favorites in Division V to earn their spot on this list - but if I'm being honest, Wilmerding really wasn't much of an underdog. They have been on our radar since the preseason, and so their victory wasn't terribly surprising. What IS eye-opening about this team is its youth: the Tigers return 6 of their top 7, which includes two sophomores and freshman. That's enough to rank them 23rd among teams returning at least 5 from this year's state meet, and that's impressive considering how much their population differs from most of the teams on this list. So we're calling it now: Lick Wilmerding is the early favorite for the 2019 D5 title, as well.

9. Vista Del Lago

The Eagles entered 2019 as Division III favorites and they lived up to expectations, which seems much easier than it actually is if you've experienced it. There were a few races where Vista Del Lago appeared vulnerable, but they persevered and earned a spot on this list. They also finished 12th in the season-long team 5K rankings, which is impressive given the load of talented D2 teams out there. Holding off a determined Palos Verdes that brought their best performance of the season showed mental toughness, a testament to the Eagles' leadership and experience. After narrowly missing out on the title in 2017, Vista Del Lago will now be in a position to contend for two in a row, and given the grit displayed this fall I wouldn't count them out.

8. Sage Creek

The Bobcats are more than just Division IV champions - on the season, they rank 18th for team 5K and 16th in the 3 Mile. In fact, when you merge all the state meet races together, Sage Creek grades out 16th, which would have placed them 5th in D1! Those are remarkable numbers for such a small school, and proof that this team can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone in California. Don't expect this level of excellence to end soon, either, as the Bobcats return a top 10 team overall across all returning team rankings. This was arguably the most impressive fall season on the list, when you adjust for school size.

7. Serrano

Freshman Tiani Goeson received quite a bit of attention this season, and deservedly so, but this is far from a one-girl team. Serrano ran well as a team all fall (8th in the 5K rankings and 7th for 3 Miles), and stepped up at the state meet to beat some traditional powers and make it into the top 4 in Division II. The Diamondbacks will have a loaded top 3 in 2019, and their program's history suggests they will cultivate the depth to be back in the mix in the team scoring again. But for now, they can enjoy the recognition as one of California's best, well-earned through their hard work.

6. Mission Viejo

Bringing your best at the right time means something, and the Diablos did just that in the Division II state meet. Despite ranking 9th for 5K and 6th for 3 Miles for the season, Mission Viejo posted the 5th-best team performance in Clovis, running a close 3rd in their race - and their race was more competitive than Division I this year! That's the way a strong program elevates in the most important meet of the year, and the Diablos deserve to be very proud that they stand so close to the top.

5. Buchanan

Horrible luck at the state meet denied them the chance to contend for another NXN berth, as Corie Smith fell ill the day before the meet and could not compete. Despite that setback, this was an excellent year for the Bears, who rank 7th on the season for 5K and 4th for 3 Miles. Developing their 5th and 6th runners was the big priority this fall, a goal which Buchanan accomplished - and because of that success, the Bears will have another very talented team back in 2019.

4. Granada

This was simply an outstanding season from start to finish for the Matadors, whose only flaw was being in the incredibly tough Division II. By our calculations, Granada missed out on an NXN at-large bid by the thinnest of margins (our merge of all state meet races has them only 16 points behind Claremont), and they certainly would have repped California well there had they been given the chance. The Matadors would have finished third in this year's Division I race, and they were excellent all season across a variety of race distances and difficulties: Granada ranks 4th in the season-long 5K list and 3rd for 3 Miles. This team has become a perennial power, and we don't expect much fall-off in 2019.

3. Claremont

By some measures, you can claim Claremont as the best team in the state this fall. For example, in a complete merge of the state meet, the Wolfpack actually comes out on top. They also had a remarkable regular season, ranking second in California in both the 5K and 3 Mile. They defeated a ridiculously loaded Division II field to win the title yet again, and earned an NXN berth (where they finished 12th in the nation). The top three in the girls rankings ended up being much closer than I thought they would be coming into the season, and that speaks highly for the work that the Wolfpack put in this fall. Claremont had a tremendous cross country season by any measure, and they are essentially even with the two teams left on this list.

2. Vista Murrieta

You can make a serious case for the Broncos as the top team of the year, given how they exceeded expectations. However, they fall just short in two of the three key areas we used for creating this final order. On the season, Vista Murrieta ranks third in the 5K rankings and 5th in the 3 Mile, which means they didn't have the best regular season in the state. And of course, they finished second to Great Oak in the Division 1 state meet, although the Broncos did pay back that narrow loss by edging out the Wolfpack the next week at NXN. This was undeniably the best season by any team in terms of comparison with preseason expectations, though, and Vista Murrieta deserves tremendous respect for closing it out with three very strong performances.

1. Great Oak

The streak continues! I beg you not to get jaded to the brilliance that Great Oak has displayed since first winning a state title in 2010. It is hard to be a front-runner, and I can't imagine how difficult it is to maintain a championship mindset year after year. That could be why this squad did not turn out to be as dominant as we thought they might be, or perhaps they just got unlucky with the injury/illness bug. In any case, though, the sustained excellence of the Wolfpack should never be taken for granted. In fact, you could view this season as the greatest testament to the Great Oak program yet - as we all know, overcoming adversity and pushing through when things aren't going as well as expected are defining traits of any champion. The Wolfpack had the best regular season and they won the Division 1 title for the 7th consecutive year, and they capped their season with an 8th-place finish at NXN.