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.
Cathedral Catholic finished 2nd in the 2019 Division 3 state championship, but they graduated 2 runners from that squad. They do have duo Trang Woolridge and Lexi Arambulo back, supported by a solid 4-girl pack behind them. Arambulo leads a Class of 2022 that has three runners in the projected top 7 for the Dons, while Woolridge and Ariella Pacheco represent a deep senior class. Sophomore Madelyn Basinet rounds out the top 6, but after that group there is a pretty significant drop-off to the rest of the team.
All of that makes for a balanced squad that mixes some urgency for this winter with a solid core returning for next fall. However, I can't help but think this team is one top 5 runner short of challenging LCC for the San Diego Section title this winter. Good news on that front: Cathedral Catholic has had two straight years of major improvements, ranking them among the best in the state for season-to-season progression. If the Dons' returners can improve even half as much as they have the last two off-seasons, and then discover one new varsity-caliber talent, their depth could be the asset that puts them over the top.