SAN DIEGO -- Take most of the top San Diego Section teams -- Sage Creek being the exception -- mix that with plenty of Southern Section powers like Loyola, Agoura and Dana Hills and sprinkle in some out-of-state teams like Sal Pointe of Arizona, and you know you must be talking about the Mt. Carmel/Asics Cross Country Invitational.
The 40th annual meet held at Balboa Park, site of the San Diego Section Championships as well as the Foot Locker National Championships, again has a stellar field which, as usual, will be contested over 2.75 miles for girls and 2.95 miles for boys across four grade classes and two divisions.
The exception comes in the Senior Division for both Division 1 and Division 2, which added an invitational aspect so outstanding non-seniors could jump in and get better competition. Overall there are 16 races scheduled beginning at 8:30 a.m. with more than 90 schools entered.
Niednagel is off to a terrific start posting impressive victories at Laguna Hills last week and the Bronco Roundup the week before at Kit Carson Park. He should get plenty of competition, if not from teammate Andy Pueschel who was second in the senior race at Dana Hills, but Loyola's Anthony Stone, who captured the Great Cow Run recently.
Niednagel went 15:33.80 for second here a year ago and is the No. 1 returner from 2018. The No. 2 returner is Michael Sahagun from Eastvale Roosevelt (SS) who ran 15:39.20. Stone, who went 15:48.70, is the No. 3 returner among senior boys.
On the team front, look for Lalo Diaz's Loyola Cubs, Dana Hills (led by Carrick Denker) and Poway with Alejandro Barranco leading the way, to mix it up in the boys races. All three were MileSlitCA Top 10 pre-season selections.
For the girls, local teams like Poway, La Costa Canyon and Canyon Crest will tackle quality programs like Dana Hills and Agoura.
Photos by Clark Kranz.