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.
It's a tribute to the depth of the Dublin program that they could lose 4 seniors from the team that finished 4th in Division 1 in 2019 and still be considered a team to watch this season. Thanks to a strong junior class, though, the Gaels should be able to rebuild quickly this year, and have a good chance to be back in the top 5 in 2021.
Daniel Trampe leads the Class of 2022 for this team, and he is set to capably take over the #1 spot; look for him to develop into an individual star over the next two seasons. Fellow juniors Joshua and Cole Turpin form a closely spaced 2-4 pack along with senior Surya Marimuthu, but there is quite a gap between them and Trampe. Seniors Tanish Kumar and Luke Wu bolster the remaining top 7, with several juniors competing to join them on the varsity squad.
After 4 consecutive seasons finishing in the top 4 at the state meet, the Gaels have proven they can overcome graduation losses and contend consistently. That is reflected in their Improvement Rating: Dublin has been one of the top 6 programs in the state for season-to-season progression over the last 5 years. We can also spot some very encouraging signs from their abbreviated outdoor track season, including two juniors not in the returning top 7 that started out sub 10 in the 3200.
Reloading from the loss of such a talented senior class will be a significant challenge, but