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.
--A relatively young Palisades Charter team fell short if its main goal in 2019, finishing 3rd in the Los Angeles City Section Finals by a mere 13 points. The Dolphins return all seven of their runners from that race, though, part of 17 of their top 19 runners in total. That should put them in the driver's seat for a section title this winter.
Lucas Schriver leads the way for Palisades, supported by fellow seniors Brent Bailey and Hunter Steinman. The junior class is also very strong, with Noah Wexler, Jeremy Santiago, and Alec Schmitt filling out a varsity pack that is separated by 38 seconds from 2 through 6. There are several more candidates among the Dolphin Class of 2022 that could step up and compete for a spot in the top 7, plus a solid sophomore class - any contributions from the 10th graders this year would be a huge bonus.
The last few seasons have been frustrating for Palisades, as they missed the state meet three out of the last four years. Right now, though, it looks like there's enough talent in the pipeline for the Dolphins to get to the top of the LA City Finals again, and perhaps stay there for a year or two.