Final 2019 Southern Section Top 40 Teams

1. Great Oak (Div. 1) -- In what many would claim as a 'down year' for Great Oak, they still were the top squad once again in the Southern Section.  Runner-up at the State Meet, they placed ninth at NXN for the SEVENTH year in a row.  No one saw just how great Buchanan would end up (fifth at NXN), but this was the first time since 2011 that Great Oak did NOT win the State Title.  As they graduate four of the best (Tori Gaitan, Arianna Griffiths, Audrey Dang, and Aubrey Nex) in the history of the storied program, they look to a new group to carry the torch in 2020, led by freshman Kelli Gaffney.                      
2. Newbury Park (Div. 2) -- When looking at their past track season, we were not surprised that they were able to battle with the top squads in Division 2.  BUT, to run away with the divisional AND State Titles, and securing a spot at NXN was one of the surprises this past season.  We expect much of the same next year, despite the graduations of two of their top three.  Like Great Oak, the culture and expectation of being on the national radar is in place, but they will have the challenge of replacing three top talents.   Sam McDonnell returns as she emerged as their top scorer in the postseason with Fiona Hawkins also a main headliner for the Panthers all season long.  

3. Saugus (Div. 1) -- What more can we say about how great it was to see this rebound from tragedy a month ago and still secure a spot on the podium in their third place finish at the State Meet.  With one of California's greatest coaches in place, Rene Paragas was the perfect mentor in guiding this group to a strong finish.  Before November, the Centurions battled injuries all throughout as well, but Hannah Fredericks remained steadfast to lead the Foothill League champs along with Isabella Duarte and Hailey Rutter!   #SaugusStrong

4. Serrano (Div. 2) -- In their two best performances of the season coming in November, head coach Ken Quinn quietly assembled under great squad that climaxed with a third-place, podium finish at the State Meet.  Tiani Goeson turned in a solid season along with Maribel Aguilar.  We had concerns with depth but in the end, they rose to the occasion when it counted the most.  (Note: VERY little separates these next four Division 2 squads.)

5. El Toro (Div. 2) -- Despite setbacks from two of their top runners, the Chargers continued to develop into one of California's best.  Continuing to hold off Canyon for OC supremacy, the blueprint of a tight scoring pack (14 seconds) was no more evident in their fourth place finish at the divisional finals.   Sophomore Kasey Lynd will lead this group in 2020, as they look to replace three scorers.

6t. Anaheim Canyon (Div. 2) -- With lofty expectations for this crew, especially after the track season, they match them for the most part.  Emma Hadley was as consistent as any other in the section, leading her squad to a fifth place finishes at both the divisional finals and the State Meet.  

6t. Claremont (Div. 2) --  Claremont handled Serrano, El Toro and Canyon at the divisional finals for the runner-up plaque.  But, they stumbled at the State Meet averaging about 20-seconds slower per scorer than other squads from the section.  Featuring one of the strongest trios in the section, depth in those last two scoring spots was always the concern this season.

8. Simi Valley (Div. 2) -- We did not have this group on our State Meet watch list until they emerged well with some impressive mid-season efforts.  Jill Walker soared back to the top as one of the best in the section while freshman Julia Kiesler inserted her talent to complete the puzzle for success.  The Pioneers finished eighth at the State Meet after placing sixth at the divisional finals.

9. Vista Murrieta (Div. 1) --  Even without the services of their top scorer from 2018, the Broncos found a way back to the State Meet.  Always as patient a program as you will find, they remained under the radar for most of the season before emerging with a third place finish at the divisional finals and sixth place at the State Meet.  With Makayla Fick up front, they were quietly one of the most improved in the section as they featured only three returners from their NXN-top 10 2018 squad.

10t. Mira Costa (Div. 1) -- The Mustangs always had us guessing to just how good they were.  Possessing incredible depth, even in their fifth place finish at the State Meet (although they were seventh a week before), we never witnessed all of their girls perform at their best all on the same day.  Putting behind some injuries in October, sophomore Dalia Frias emerged as one of the best in California with third place finish at the State Meet and one of the youngest to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals.

10t. Ventura (Div. 2) -- Led by one of the section's best, Madeleine Locher led the Cougars to a tenth place finish at the State Meet.  Stealth-like in their seasonal approach, they emerged to snag that last spot to Fresno against some solid competition.  Rebuilding in 2020, they graduate their top four from this group.

12. Tesoro  (Div. 1) -- The Titans emerged as one of the surprises at the divisional finals.  Going into the postseason, ranked 12th in the official CIF-SS rankings, behind Clara Meade, they raced to a fifth place finish!  They were eighth after four scorers and moved up on that crucial fifth scoring slot. They then returned with a second stellar performance in placing seventh at the State Meet.  Their lone senior, Meade roared to an eighth place finish as an individual at the State Meet, as they return a lot for 2020.  

13. San Clemente (Div. 1) -- In their first trip to State Meet since 2013, things did not go as planned, crossing with their only 'off' performance all season.  We were not surprised with their fourth place finish at the divisional finals but projected them to fight for a top-five finish at the State Meet.  As Hana Catsimanes, one of the section's best and divisional champ a week before, uncharacteristically had a tough race, so did the rest of the Tritons in fading to a 12th place finish over that last mile on Woodward,

14. Yucaipa (Div. 1) --  As consistent a squad you will find on this countdown, the Danielle Gee-led Thunderbirds placed sixth at the divisional finals and concluded their solid season with a tenth-place finish at the State Meet.   The staff did a great job keeping this group off the radar and peaking at just the right time in November.  

15. Dana Hills (Div. 2) -- With freshman Allura Markow taking over the helm for the Dolphins, we had some question marks going down the stretch.  But, when all concluded, they almost earned a team berth in placing eighth at the tough Division 2 finals.

16. Trabuco Hills (Div. 1) -- Hats off to Dennis Kelly in how well the Mustangs have developed the past two seasons.  It's rare to qualify two individuals to the State Meet (Anna Munoz and Bailey Watts) and not qualify for the State Meet, but they could not keep pace in those last two scoring slots.  With that, they settled for an eighth place finish at the Division 1 finals.

17. Beckman (Div. 1) -- A squad that displayed flashes of State Meet potential at times, this compact scoring unit (only 25 seconds at the finals) did not finish high enough as a group and placed ninth at the Division 1 finals.  They will return five from this year's crew in 2020 and look to defend their Pacific Coast League crown.

18. Orange Lutheran (Div. 4) -- We felt that they were under ranked all season long, and proved us right as this group ran away with the Division 4 title!  But, to our surprise, we did not project winning the title by 61 points!  With that, they went up against the best Division 4 squad in state history (Sage Creek) and placed third at the State Meet.  With Sophia Gutierrez being their front runner all season, they return their top four for 2020.

19. Quartz Hill (Div. 1) --  Disappointing finish for a squad projected as a State Meet team going into the postseason.  Freshman Brianne Smith qualified for the State Meet as an individual but after their performance at Clovis in October, placing 12th at the Div. 1 finals was a shock.  Unfortunately, they performed better at the divisional prelims, but only graduate one from this group.

20. Northwood (Div. 2) --  This group was under the radar and in the shadows of other top OC squads.  If fully healthy by the postseason, we had them projected to finish in the top eight at the Division 2 finals.  As they placed tenth, they return their top four and will push Beckman in their league title battle in 2020.

21. JW North (Div. 2) -- Completely off the radar all season, except for freshman McKenzie Browne joining her sister Makayla up front, we did not project the Huskies to finish as high as ninth at the Division 2 finals.  McKenzie pushed the pace to capture the Division 2 individual title and qualify for the State Meet as an individual.

22. Aliso Niguel (Div. 1) -- With Emily Richards up front, the Wolverines were sixth after four scorers at the Division 1 finals.  But, unable to match the depth of the others, they faded to tenth place.  With one of their best seasons in school history, they return six for the 2020 campaign and will be projected to finish much higher.

23. Ayala (Div. 1) --  Like Quartz Hill, we had this squad flirting with a State Meet spot all season long.  The only poor performance they had in 2019 was a disappointing 15th place at the Division 1 finals.  Tough to move them down too far down when they consistently proved how talented a squad they were throughout the season.

24. Palos Verdes (Div. 3) --  With one of the best duos in the section comprised of Savannah Striven (NXN qualifier) and Samantha Steman, the Sea Kings captured the Division 3 division title by 14 points over Brea Olinda.  With Brea's sixth-scorer finishing right behind PV's fourth, they had to settle for fourth place at the State Meet.  This was their 13th straight State Meet appearance and their SEVENTH CIF-SS title this decade!

24t. Brea Olinda (Div. 3) -- After their eye-popping performances at Clovis and the OC Champs, we had this crewed ranked in the top 12.  Being unable to measure up against the top two divisions down the stretch, they finished runner-up at the Division 3 finals.  With their first State Meet appearance since 2015, a bit of redemption saw them beating Palos Verdes on their sixth scorer and claiming a third place plaque!

26. Laguna Beach (Div. 4) --  The Breakers earned the runner-up plaque at the Division 4 finals.  Jessie Rose performed at her best at the State Meet, leading the squad to a fifth place finish at the State Meet.  As you will notice, Division 4 possessed greater depth than their counterparts in Division 3.

27. Fountain Valley (Div. 1) --  After one of their best seasons in school history in 2018, they responded very well to the task of replacing graduated talent.  Remaining off the radar most of the season, they impressed with an 11th-place finish at the Division 1 finals.

28. Foothill (Div. 2) -- A squad that flirted with a possible State Meet berth, they placed 11th at the Division 2 finals for the second straight year.  Replacing Katie Farr up front will be a challenge but the Knights return a solid group to compete for a top 10 finish in 2020.

29. Westlake (Div. 2) --  A group that showed flashes of promise, it was great to see Rebecca Schultz rebound from injury for a stellar senior season.  With that, in that ever-so-tough Division 2 battle, they finished 12th at the Division 2 finals.

30. Santiago (Div. 1) -- The Big 8 League champs (only six schools in the league since 2013?) finished about where we had them projected as they placed 13th in the Division 1 finals.  Led by Diana Bautista, the Sharks ended up as the fourth best squad in Riverside County.

31. Woodbridge (Div. 2) --  The improved Warriors finished 13th at the Division 2 finals.  They will return five of their top six in 2020 with Sarah Klem leading the way.

32. Covina (Div. 4) --  After placing third at the Div. 4 finals, they came through with the best performance of the season in finishing fourth at the State Meet.   Katelyn Vuong rebounded well after a tough showing at the divisional finals to pace the Colts in Fresno.

33. Mayfield (Div. 4) -- Divisional champ, Audrey Suarez led her group back to the State Meet for a fifth season in a row.  With a fourth place finish at the Div. 4 finals, they concluded their season with a sixth place finish in Fresno.

34. El Segundo (Div. 4) -- This program has quietly become a stable on the Division 4 landscape in placing fifth at the divisional finals and seventh at the State Meet.  This was their fourth straight season of qualifying to Fresno.

35. Foothill Tech (Div. 4) --  Brook Secreto surged to a surprising State Meet victory to pace her squad to an eighth place finish.  After placing sixth at the divisional finals, the Dragons challenge was competing with other squads in that fifth scoring slot.  This was their fifth straight season of advancing to Fresno.

36. Walnut (Div. 2) -- With the tall task of rebounding after the graduations of the Arriaga sisters to go along with emotional setbacks off the course, this group exceeded our expectations with their 14th-place finish at the Division 2 finals.

37. St. Margaret's (Div. 5) -- They steamrolled to defend their Division 5 title by a whopping 62 points!  Led by freshman Liesel Blau and her third-place finish, they placed third at the State Meet.  As they graduate three of their top five, they will be challenged for a third straight title in 2020 but still project to make the State Meet for a fifth straight season.

38. Chino Hills (Div. 1) --  Despite losing one of the section's best, Jacqueline Duarte in mid-October, the Huskies responded well.  The ran to the Baseline League title while still crossing with a 14th-place finish at the Division 1 finals.  With a healthy Duarte back, this crew should project to be a State Meet squad in 2020.

39. Capistrano Valley (Div. 2) --  With Carly Corsinita (Foot Locker National finalist) producing another solid season, the Cougars had to overcome injuries en route to 15th place finish at the Division 2 finals.

40. South Torrance (Div. 3) -- Fifth at the Division 3 finals and qualifying for the State Meet for the third straight year, they saved their best for last in a seventh-place finish in Fresno.   Lily Albert led the Spartans. 

Others: Arroyo (Div. 3); Burbank (Div. 1); Costa Mesa (Div. 4); Glendora (Div. 2); Granite Hills (Div. 3), Linfield Christian (Div. 5), Mission Viejo (Div. 2); Portola (Div. 3), Torrance (Div. 3); Yorba Linda (Div. 3)