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. Despite the continued bad news regarding California high school sports, I choose to remain optimistic that we will have a season, and I will keep looking for teams that will have an impact within their section.
--Oakland Tech just barely edged out Skyline for the Oakland Section title in 2019, the two teams separated by only one point and 14 seconds on the top 5 average. The difference in terms of this year came with graduation: Skyline lost three from their varsity squad, while the Bulldogs return 8 of their top 9 runners. That puts Oakland Tech ahead coming into this school year.
With that state meet experience under their collective belt, this should be a confident team during the shortened winter season. If the Bulldogs are able to fend off their rival for Oakland supremacy again, that will be the completion of their season - but this winter is just a step on the way to the full potential of this team. They will once again have only one senior in their top 8 this time around, and that means Oakland Tech is going to be a force to reckon with next fall.
That lone senior is important, however: Quinn Sedlachek is projected to run #2 for the Bulldogs this school year. Clair Garrett leads a junior class that is the heart of the team, supported by Josie Goodson and Caitlin Lee. If the current sophomores can develop into solid top 5 runners, or if they can discover one or two new talents, Oakland Tech will be well on their way to something special. If both of those happen this winter, special could come sooner than I've predicted.