With four of the seven who took the line to help Great Oak to a runner-up finish at NXN last December returning, it's little surprise that the Wolfpack enter 2019 as the favorite to defend Southern Section and State Division 1 titles as well as to again challenge the nation's best at the season finale in Portland. Returning are John Worthy (374), Chris Verdugo (380), Mateo Joseph (center with trophy), and Cole Sawires-Yager (377). (Credit: Bryan Deibel).
As we previewed with our girls several days ago, the
Southern Section was very well represented on the national stage on 2018. All three representatives from the section
(Great Oak, Newbury Park and West Ranch) finished among the top eight at NXN
after earning their tickets with inspiring efforts at the California State
Meet. On the ensuing pages, we take in a more
in-depth look at each division heading into the 2019 season but here's a quick glance!
With Great Oak earning the runner-up spot at NXN in 2018, we do not see the Wolfpack skipping a beat this season in defending their divisional and state titles once again. In needing some of their youth to step in for late season injuries, that big race experience will pay dividends come November. Great Oak is the overwhelming favorites to capture a fifth straight Division 1 crown while the 'B' team could actually earn them a seventh straight trip to the California State Meet! Ten of the top 11 individuals from the 2018 Division 1 finals, graduated so new faces will appear up front this November.
Meanwhile, Newbury Park returns most of their crew from their state championship squad and are the favorites once again heading into the Division 2 battle. They concluded their 2018 season with a sixth place effort at NXN, led by arguably, the nation's best in Nico Young (Frank Bellino photo). He was fourth individually there and returns off his national headlining track season. Can Claremont keep up with the Panthers? While the Wolfpack appear certain to earn a sixth consecutive trip to Fresno, they have one of the nation's best to overcome in reclaiming their title from 2017. Meanwhile, Dana Hills moves to Division 2 for the first time.
With defending champs, Palos Verdes, graduating six from last year's squad along with runner-up and West Torrance moving over to Division 2, the Division 3 crystal ball poses a lot of question marks to say the least. Indio and Esperanza (third and fourth respectively) also graduated most of their 2018 State Meet squads to boot. With that, the Bears of Brea Olinda are the favorites, but Agoura is right there in their rear view mirror.
Laguna Beach left 2018 as the best squad in California State history at the Division 4 level. But they only return two from that squad and have their work cut out for them in repeating. Foothill Tech and JSerra will need to fill some major holes if they plan to finish in the top three once again. Meanwhile, Cathedral is primed to return back to earn the hardware as they earned the divisional title in 2017.
In the race for the Division 5 team title, St. Margaret's looks to defend their 2018 championship. But they will have to overcome tradition-rich Flintridge Prep (which has finished in the top three NINE straight seasons), an improving and driven Viewpoint squad along with Woodcrest Christian.
With the season opening up this weekend, we provide a more detailed view with major headlines for the upcoming 2019 season in the Southern Section.
- Southern Section Girls XC Preview
- 2018 CIF-SS Championship Results
- Southern Section Boys Team & Individual Returning Rankings