For the last several years I've done a Countdown to XC feature in the 30 days leading up to the start of the fall season. This strange school year will be no exception! However, the usual format for the countdown won't work this time around - it depends heavily on spring track data (which we don't have) to evaluate championship contenders and try to predict emerging challengers. So, instead of a rankings-style countdown, I'm going to feature 30 boys teams and 30 girls teams that I think will have a significant impact on the upcoming, unique winter cross country season. We'll begin with the obvious contenders state-wide and in every section, and then work our way to some potential sleepers.
After two straight years of significant improvement, leading to 17th- and 10th-place finishes in Division 1, Davis Senior seems poised to break through this winter. The Blue Devils fielded a top 7 with 2 graduated seniors and only 1 junior at the 2019 state meet, which means they were more competitive than you would expect for such a young team.
Davis has a very strong returning top 3 in Zachary Ayers, Ansel Tucker, and Ryan Mitchell. Those three were separated by roughly 30 seconds in Clovis last November, and I expect them to be both tighter and faster this time around. Tucker already set a new PR of 15:51 at Desert Twilight this fall, putting him right behind the PR of Ayers. Mitchell was a freshman last year, and it's very reasonable to expect solid development in his sophomore year.
Behind that lead pack is solid depth, although whenever you lose your #2 and #3 runners to graduation you will have some work to do to replace them. This is the year for the Blue Devils to push for a top 5 finish at the state meet, because they have a large group of seniors led by Tucker and Diego Perez that should provide urgency and depth. Throw in junior Tavi Maes, and the competition for those final spots in the top 7 will make the team stronger.
If the second pack can close the gap on the top 3 then this will be a formidable squad that can repeat and improve on their top 10 finish last fall. If Davis can also get one runner to make the leap and turn their front 3 into a four-man pack, this could be a very special season. Perez is the prime candidate there after running 4:19 for 1600 in the spring. I see a lot of potential in this Blue Devil team.
Davis Senior Stats:
*3 mile times run at Mt. SAC and La Costa Canyon