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.
2019 was a rebuilding year for La Costa Canyon's girls - and when you can say that a 12th-place finish in ultra-competitive Division 2 is a "down year," you know you have a strong program. Of course, that comes on the heels of 4 straight top 5 performances at the 2015 - 2018 state meets, and that is the level to which the Mavericks aspire to return.
Top 5 is within their range this winter if you know what to look for. First, consider LCC's strong history of year-to-year improvement. In fact, over the past 7 seasons only Great Oak has done a better job of progressing between seasons. Next, factor in that the Mavericks are returning their entire top 12 from 2019, and you can see why this team would have high expectations right now.
In fact, we may not even see the best from the Mavericks this school year, since seniors Sydney Weaber and Reese Severson are the only two impending graduates out of that top 12. Rebekah Niednagel, Kyra Compton, and Georgia Patyna lead an deep and talented junior class that could keep La Costa Canyon in podium contention for two consecutive seasons.
The ceiling for this team could depend on the development of sophomores like Kira Lamer, or perhaps on the incoming freshman class. That's because depth could still be an issue for the Mavericks this winter despite the large number of returners. LCC needs to strengthen their 5-6-7 spots and draw that group closer to their strong front four if they do hope to make the top 5 in a loaded division. Their history of offseason progress and their large talent pool tells me that will get done.
La Costa Canyon Stats:
*Times run at Balboa Park, Mt. SAC, La Costa Canyon