Among the top returning boys cross country runners from Southern California and the Central Section are, from left, Kenan Pala, Jackson Adelman, Jai Dawson and Jacob Yagers. (Photos by DeAnna Turner and Patrick Corsinita)
- - -
We are finding with the recent lifting of the California Department of Public Health stay at home order, cross country is slowly happening in many parts of the state.
Based on the success of many individual boys as well as some outstanding teams during the 2019 season -- the last official high school sports season in CA -- Southern California is loaded with talented boys. We've coupled the Central Section into this SoCal listings of 10 top boys to watch. We've expanded this article to a list of a group of 10 sophomores and juniors, and a list of 10 seniors. As with every season, it will be interesting to watch as freshmen boys emerge to make an impact on the varsity level. But for now, we will stick to the returning runners.
We know some schools and runners may not take the line this winter but we wanted to keep these subjective lists true to the top boys in this region of the state as if we were having a normal season. Rankings and results at the end of March will ultimately determine the top boys during the 2020-21 winter XC season.
10. Nathan Lennox (Great Oak/SS)
Sophomore made his mark during the fall, running 15:27.84 for 18th at the deep Desert Twilight XC Festival and following that up with a 15:16.40 for 5K at Sundown Showdown.
9. Daniel Appleford (Newbury Park/SS)
Scoring runner during the fall 2019 season as Newbury Park won CIF-SS, CIF-State and Team Cross Country National titles. Appleford placed 24th at the State Meet as the Panthers won the D-II title. He was the team's No. 4 scorer at the Section final and No. 5 at both State and nationals.
8. Kenan Pala (Francis Parker/SD)
One of the state's elite small-schools runners, Pala, a junior, placed fourth at the 2019 State Meet in the D-V race after winning the San Diego Section title.
7. Christoph Waligorski (Redondon Union/SS)
Junior has the No. 25 returning time from the 2019 CIF-State Championships and is the top returner in the class from that D-I race. He placed second in the Southern Section D-1 race with a time that ranks No. 7 overall among returners from that meet.
6. Bryce Gilmore (Sage Creek/SD)
He and Pala are the top two juniors in the San Diego Section. Gilmore placed 13th in the D-IV race at the 2019 CIF-State Championships after placing second in the SDS Final.
5. Isaiah Givens (Pasadena/SS)
Givens, a junior, placed 11th in the D-I race at the 2019 CIF-State Championships and has the State's No. 7 fastest returning 3-mile time (14:29.60). He placed second in the D-3 race at the 2019 CIF-SS Finals. His combined 3M/5K time from 2019 ranks 16th statewide among returners.
4. Leo Young (Newbury Park/SS)
One of the twin younger brothers of Nico Young, Leo Young ran 14:49.99 as part of the December Sundown Showdown 5K where five boys from the Newbury Park Athletic Club ran sub 15. He was the top runner in the class of 2023 at the 2019 CIF-State Championship when he covered the Woodward Park 5K course in 15:41.60 for 32nd place in the Division II race.
3. Lex Young (Newbury Park/SS)
Leo's twin ran a state sophomore 5K record 14:27.11 as part of the December Sundown Showdown 5K where five boys from the Newbury Park Athletic Club ran sub 14:49.99. Lex ran a class-best 15:37.00 on the Woodward Park 5K course during the Clovis Invitational but wasn't able to run at the State Meet.
2. Jai Dawson (Dana Hills/SS)
When projecting the top boys in the class of 2022, Jai Dawson slots No. 2 by the narrowest margin of .10 seconds. That was the difference between Dawson and Newbury Park's Colin Sahlman at the 2019 State Championships where Sahlman barely won a sprint finish for 5th and 6th place in the D-II final. Dawson placed fourth at the CIF-SS Final and is the No. 1 returner from that race.
1. Colin Sahlman (Newbury Park/SS)
(DeAnna Turner photo above)
Junior Colin Sahlman has ranked atop his class since freshman year and that continues to be the case after he led the Newbury Park Athletic Club boys to a trio of impressive performances out of state during the fall. NP isn't expected to compete this winter, so we won't get a chance to watch Sahlman again until the spring. Looking back at 2019, Sahlman was the top finisher in the class at the State Meet where he placed fifth in the D-II race for a team that won Section, State and Team National titles.
Senior returners from the Southern Section Division 2 race at the 2019 championships include, from left, Ewan Macfarlane, Jack Keough-Lansford (706) and Joshua Murray (1093). (Photo by Jeffrey Parenti)
- - -
10. Michael Cooper (Thousand Oaks/SS)
Placed 18th at State in the D-II race with the No. 13 fastest returning time from the meet. Ranks 17th statewide among returners with combined 3M/5K time. No. 6 returner from the CIF-SS D-2 Final with the sixth fastest returning time from that meet.
9. Joshua Murray (West Torrance/SS)
Ranks fourth in the state among returners for combined 3M/5K times. Is the No. 4 returner from the CIF-SS D-2 race with the No. 4 overall returning time from that meet.
8. Joshua Villasenor (Foothill Technology/SS)
Is the top returner from the CIF-SS and CIF-State D-IV champions. Placed third at the section final and fifth at State where he is the No. 1 returner from that 5K division race.
7. Jyden Schmid (Mira Mesa/SD)
Placed third in Division 1 at the San Diego Section Championships and is the No. 1 returner from that meet (15:26.90). Placed 19th in the D-I race at State but is the No. 3 returner from that race for this winter season.
6. Jackson Adelman (St. Margaret's/SS)
Defending State champion in Division V and a two-time Southern Section small schools division champion. Headed to Williams College.
5. Ewan Macfarlane (Peninsula/SS)
Placed 13th in the D-II race at the State Meet with the No. 9 time among all returners. Was sixth in the super-fast D-2 Southern Section race with the No. 2 fastest returning time from that meet.
4. Nicholas Goldstein (Newbury Park/SS)
Key member of the Section, State and National championship team, was 10th at State in the D-II race, ranks third among all returners in combined 5K/3M times from 2019, and closed out the fall with a 14:47.11 5K PR.
3. Jacob Yagers (Bakersfield Highland/CS)
The top returning boy in the CS placed 11th at State in the D-I race and is the No. 8 overall returner from those championships. Won the D-2 race at the CS Championships with the top returning time from that meet.
2. Jack Keough-Lansford (Claremont/SS)
Mainstay in the Claremont program who placed seventh in the D-II race at State and is the No. 5 overall returner from that 2019 championships. He placed 12th at the CIF-SS D-2 race with the fifth fastest returning time from that meet. Ranks 11th statewide among returners in combined 3M/5K time.
1. Christian Simone (Newbury Park/SS)
Simone transferred to Newbury Park from Great Oak and made his presence felt during the Panthers' fall run as the Newbury Park Athletic Club, emerging as the top senior in SoCal. NP isn't expected to compete in XC this winter, so we won't get to watch Simone run XC this winter. He went 14:23.80 for 3-miles at Woodbridge in 2019 and 14:46.79 for 5K this fall. His returning combined 3M/5K time from 2019 ranks sixth statewide.