With less than THREE weeks left before we begin the 2019 postseason in the Southern Section, many of the section's best traveled to Woodward Park in Fresno to compete at the Clovis Invitational last weekend. With that, we take our second look at the section's top 25 teams, per gender, regardless of division. These are subjective rankings, taking into account the different courses that each squad has competed on along with the variety of lineups each squad has utilized thus far.
GIRLS SOUTHERN SECTION - TOP 25
1) Great Oak (Div. 1) -- Scary thought is that this group continues to improve and get better as they scorched the Woodward Park course in 90:34! With Tori Gaitan leading up front, Aubrie Nex (18:00.4) has been in the zone the past three weeks. Their three freshmen continue to compete like veterans while Arianna Griffiths opened her season last weekend with a modest 19:09 effort.
2) Newbury Park (Div. 2) -- They keep churning along and perhaps, distancing themselves from the rest of the field for that Division 2 crown next month. They added Hailey Golman to the mix and rolled to a 91:52 at Clovis. Their front three displayed how they can interchange with Archana Mohandas leading the way this time around (18:09.5).
3) Saugus (Div. 1) -- Do not be fooled as they have laid low for the most part, thus far. They still haven't run their top returner from last year and are as solid as any other Centurions squad of the past.
4) Anaheim Canyon (Div. 2) -- They sat their girls out at Clovis as the coaching staff conserves their races for greater battles in the next month. Emma Hadley crossed in 16:49 at Woodbridge while State Meet qualifier in the 3200 as a freshman, Isabella Frisone continues to train her way closer to her talented teammate.
5) El Toro (Div. 2) -- Without front running Grace Griffin, the Chargers ran to a 95:18 team time at Clovis and an impressive 37-second scoring gap. Kasey Lynd handled the chores up front last weekend. This team is for real and still has more to show.
6) Serrano (Div. 2) -- Serrano had stayed away from the high profile invites this season, but emerged with their 94:29 effort at Clovis. Tiani Goeson turned in an 18:05 performance to lead the Diamondbacks. Lack of depth is a huge concern and they will need to keep those top five in tact until late-November (but what they DO have within that top five is one of the best in California!)
7) Claremont (Div. 2) -- Maddie Coles was very impressive on the Crystal Springs course last weekend in her 43-second victory. Angie Gushue sat this one out but looked great in her 16:56 victory at the Temecula Twilight a week earlier. They need to tighten that gap between their front trio and the others to move up here.
8) Quartz Hill (Div. 1) -- The Rebels were the biggest mover on our lists as they amazed with their performance at Clovis. Their stunning 95:45 team time catapults them right into the mix of projected State Meet squads coming out of Division 1 with freshman Brianne Smith's 18:13 leading the way.
9) Vista Murrieta (Div. 1) - Very impressive showing at the Hole in the Wall Invite in Washington, where they placed four in front of Mira Costa's No. 2. Ole Miss-bound Makayla Fick was off our top 10 list (Div. 1) until her performance last weekend while they continue to bring along Devyn Candaele. Can they replicate their incredible finish from last year?
10) Mira Costa (Div. 1) -- Interchangeable lineup galore as nine different girls have finished in their top five. Behind Dalia Frias up front, their next four were not able to match up with Vista Murrieta up in Washington. With more consistency from their next four scoring slots, this squad can easily compete for second at next month's divisional finals.
11) Brea Olinda (Div. 3) -- They've stayed off the radar for the most part but unleashed a fury at the Clovis Invite last weekend. Whitney Valenti and Mia Douge formed one of the strongest duos up front along with some great development from the rest of the scoring five. Their 95:54 team time at Clovis makes them one of our big movers this week.
12) Chino Hills (Div. 1) -- Solid unpressed effort to capture the Inland Empire Challenge in dry and windy conditions. Jacqueline Duarte carries the torch up front but Lauren Jauregui continues to improve. As they continue to develop more depth, two freshmen check in to help mold this group into a State Meet team.
13) Ayala (Div. 1) -- The Bulldogs provided another solid outing with their 96:37 effort at Clovis. Shaina Berk continues to lead them as she crossed in 18:47.6 last weekend on the Woodward Park course.
14) Yucaipa (Div. 1) -- They've developed a nice group behind front running, Danielle Gee. Tough to gauge their last performance at Temecula Twilight as the course was 15-20 seconds faster than Woodbridge.
15) Ventura (Div. 2) -- Staying away from the high level races thus far, Madeleine Locher continues to stay off the radar (except for our top 10 individual rankings!). With a developing support network behind her and their tradition of peaking well, they are slated as a State Meet team right now in Division 2.
16) San Clemente (Div. 1) -- Wake Forest-bound Hana Catsimanes and her 17:48 at Clovis was 20 seconds faster than what she ran at the 2018 State Meet. As they race separately at times, the rest of the group has combined for some solid outings and keeping this group in the State Meet conversation.
17) Palo Verdes (Div. 3) -- Savannah Scriven and Samantha Steman combine to form one of the top pairs in the country. Combining to find a trio behind them, that can hold off Brea Olinda next month at the Division 3 finals is now the goal! The 2:57 scoring gap is eye-popping but they were short one varsity runner last weekend.
18) Dana Hills (Div. 2) -- Freshman Allura Markow shined with her 18:35 effort up front. While they recorded a 98:19 team time, they were missing their regular No. 3 in freshman Mia Geiger, which is why we still have them ranked ahead of several other OC schools.
19) Orange Lutheran (Div. 4) -- Sophia Gutierrez crossed in 18:35 to lead her group to a 97:27 team time at Clovis. This was their best performance of date and places them in the mix up top in that Division 4 battle. Solid improvement from Lauren Landrith has provided the Lancers with some nice support.
20) Mayfield (Div. 4) -- Audrey Suarez came through with a modest 18:25 (she ran a 17:44 to capture the Division IV state championship last November) victory in the Small Schools race at Clovis. Emma Cadena provided some nice backup as they ran to a 97:36 team time.
21) Capistrano Valley (Div. 2) -- Headlined by Carly Corsinita's 17:49 performance at the Clovis Invite. With the team combining for a 97:24 team time, sophomore Kendra Beck continues her improvement and big reason for the Cougars jumping back into the State Meet picture for Division II.
22) Yorba Linda (Div. 3) -- Siena Palicke ran 42 seconds faster than her previous best on the Woodward Park course last weekend (despite a wrong turn that likely cost her a victory in the Varsity Medium race at Clovis). This was the Mustang's best performance to date and sets them up to push Brea Olinda at their league finals in a few weeks.
23) La Serna (Div. 1) -- Just when we were paying attention to the ascendance of their boys' crew, here come the ladies with a 98:48 effort at Clovis. Maddie Franco led the way as expected, but the 29-second scoring gap is what really caught our attention. Toya Soto's remarkable improvement has made a huge difference.
24) Trabuco Hills (Div. 1) -- Bailey Watts leads the Mustangs as they opted to take last weekend off. Sophomore Anna Munoz has improved by over 4-5 minutes, compared to last year and providing that added punch they needed to contend with Orange County's best.
25) Simi Valley (Div. 2) -- They still have yet to run a full squad in any one meet this year while Jill Walker ran her personal best (17:50) on the Woodward Park course last weekend. We have several squads that could have easily taken this spot, but they were missing a key scorer last weekend as well.
Others: Aliso Niguel, Covina, El Segundo, Foothill, Foothill Tech, Mission Viejo, Northwood, South Pasadena, Torrance, West Ranch