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.
If you've followed my past cross country countdowns, you know I love teams that were young in the previous season but still had success. Miramonte definitely falls into that category: at the 2019 state meet, the Matadors backed star #1 runner Audrey Allen with 5 sophomores, which means they have their top 6 runners back. Allen is the only senior in that group; in fact, the team is projected to have just 2 seniors in their top 15 this winter.
The core of the team is in the junior class, led by Claire Nolet and Kate Riley. The runner to watch, however, is Jamie Say: if she can stay healthy, she elevates Miramonte's top 4 to become quite formidable. Say has had two straight truncated cross country seasons - she was running #2 for the team when her 2018 season ended early, and according to our database she only ran in the state meet in 2019 (no other races on her profile). A full season from Say
Since the arrival of Allen in 2018, Miramonte has made unbelievable progress as a program. The Matadors improved their top 5 average by a full two minutes in two years, averaging 21:43 for 5K in 2017 and 19:42 in 2019! That's why I'm not overly concerned about the gap between their projected top 4 and the rest of the varsity. The team has quite a large number of returning runners to draw from, and their recent history strongly suggests they can develop young talent to step up into those spots. If I'm right, Miramonte could be in the driver's seat in the NCS Division 4 race, and they have enough talent back to be a factor next fall, as well.