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.
--The 2019 state meet was a tale of two classes for Scotts Valley. The Falcons ran two seniors who have since graduated, and they will be hard to replace. On the other hand, there were three sophomores in their top 7 in Fresno, and it's reasonable to believe they will make a significant step forward as a group this winter.
Jeremy Kain leads the team's Class of 2022 and the squad overall, the top returning junior from the Division 4 race at states. Classmates Ryder Brabo and Austin George also got valuable state meet experience, and they should be joined by junior Patrick Goodrich in forming a strong top 4. That's the only senior in the projected top 10 for the Falcons this year, which makes this a very young squad with two years to reach its full potential.
To contend again this year, Scotts Valley will need to get their second pack to close on the front 4. That means developing the sophomore and junior classes, which is definitely attainable. If even half of the team's current sophomores and juniors make the leap that we often see from athletes that age, the Falcons could be formidable this year. This program has posted strong but declining improvements over the last three seasons, which is a sign of an increasingly well-trained core group. It's wouldn't be out of the question to see better than average progression this winter, given the youth of this squad.
Scotts Valley will have their hands full with a loaded, senior-heavy Foothill Tech team in Division 4 ths year. Regardless of the outcome of this season, though, we can already name the Falcons as favorites in 2021 - and don't be surprised if they make it closer than expected this winter, too.