SAN DIEGO -- It was a sensational or somewhat disappointing cross country season for the San Diego Section, depending on which gender you analyze.
An individual and repeat state team champion for the girls is right up there with the most successful seasons ever for the girls. The boys were another matter as Francis Parker team's third place finish, without the benefit of a single senior, and a 3-4-5 placing in Division V were pretty much the highlight.
Here's a closer look at the 2019 XC season in the San Diego Section:
Kenan Pala (far left) and Francis Parker emerged as the top boys team in the SDS. (Credit: Jeffrey Parenti)
Ranked among the top five in the state all season in Division V, the Francis Parker boys got a fourth place finish from Kenan Pala in 15:46.1, an 18th from Spencer Seay and a 29th from Ian Lillie, but were unable to bunch the other two scorers, finishing third, 47 points behind Viewpoint.
The Lancers definitely figure to be in the mix for 2020 since Viewpoint loses two of its top three to graduation. But Parker will need to improve and get the top five scorers closer than the more than two-minute gap between one and five because runner-up St. Margaret also returns all its top runners.
Most coaches consider a top-five team finish a success and Cathedral Catholic surprised many by placing fourth in Division III as senior Max Wilson led the way with a 21st place finish at15:53.6. Sage Creek sophomore Bryce Gilmore was 13th in Division IV as was University City senior Bryce Kuecker in Division III but the best in Division I were an 18th by Sweetwater's Jose Galvan and a 19th by Mira Mesa junior Jyden Schmid.
The section appeared to have a potential individual challenger in D-II before Newbury Park's Nico Young dominated in a fashion rarely seen. La Costa Canyon's Caleb Niednagel started strong but first a slight injury and then a flu that dragged him down the last three weeks of the season ended that dream.
The Sage Creek girls won a second consecutive State D-IV title in record fashion. (Courtesy Michelle Cox)
A year after La Costa Canyon's Kristin Fahy dominated Division II, Canyon Crest senior Carlie Dorostkar was even more impressive in Division I. She had just one bad race in a big meet as her coach, Andrew Corman, planned the season perfectly.
She didn't run until Mt. SAC, had that one off-race in the Clovis Invitational, and improved each week winning the San Diego Section by more than a minute. She covered the Balboa Park course in a sizzling 16:28.8, before dominating the rest of the state a week later when her 16:45.4 in the State Finals was the fastest time of the day. She was the lone runner to crack 17 on a cool, gray day on the 5K course at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Just in case you doubted Dorostkar's durability, she came back the next week to finish sixth at Nike Nationals in Portland, the highest-placing Californian.
If she were the only story, that would be enough. But she shared the spotlight with the Sage Creek girls who defended their Division IV crown in impressive fashion.
Scoring just 44 points on the strength of a 2-4-6-9 finish, the Bobcats won by 77 points, crushing the state Division IV team record with a combined time of 90:59. The previous best was 93:55 by Santa Cruz.
Leading the way were Northern Arizona signee Skyler Wallace, who placed second in 17:48.4, and senior Lavanya Pandey, who was fourth in 18:00.6, Skyler's sophomore sister Stormy was sixth in 18:04.5 and freshman Malia Leupold was ninth in 18:13.9 That's a 25-second gap from 1-4.
The biggest loss, though, might not be Skyler Wallace or Pandey, but coach Jacob Feiring. He built the Bobcats into a section power, resulting in Sage Creek having the fastest team time in the SDS championships. Feiring and his wife relocated to Seattle for employment considerations.
Elsewhere, there were more of strong performances.
Mission Vista's Bella Longo improved to third in Division III where El Capitan freshman Amber Chase, in her first year of cross country, roared up to place seventh. In that same division, Cathedral Catholic's girls, without a big front-runner, bunched their scorers to place second behind Campolindo.
Much like the boys, the girl in Division V made their presence known as Santa Fe Christian finished fourth in the team race and six individuals finished in the Top 20. Those included SFC soph Eloise Martenson (7th), Christian junior Alaina Zamorano (8th), Pacific Ridge's freshman twin sisters Elsa (9th) and Clara Steer (10th), another 9th-grader, SFC's Revere Schmidt (12th) and Bishop's soph Madeline Cramer (16th).
Dorostkar's junior teammate Elizabeth Emberger, was second in the section and ninth in the state.
Quite a haul.
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