Simi Valley Girls
It's no secret that having an elite #1 runner can help the whole team succeed. For Simi Valley, the first two years of Jill Walker's high school career were frustrating from a team standpoint, although Walker excelled individually. The breakthrough finally came in 2019 as the Pioneers made it to the state meet and finished 8th in the Division 2 race.
With 6 of 7 back from that state meet squad and a change to Division 3, Simi Valley is definitely a team to be reckoned with. Walker should be in the top 4 individually, with fellow senior Lynette Ruiz helping to anchor the pack supporting her. Sophomore #2 runner Julia Kiesler has already shown significant improvement this year, posting a PR of 18:31 at Desert Twilight this fall. Junior Lexi Darley rounds out an impressive top 4, but behind that group depth could be an issue.
Normally I would use Improvement Ratings to get a feel for how well a team like this. In the case of the Pioneers, a disastrous 2018 season skews their 3-year data and leaves them with a lower rating than they deserve. In three of the last 4 years, however, Simi Valley has posted enormous season-to-season progress, which gives me hope that their depth issues will be solved by March. They need one more top 5 caliber runner and a stronger 5-6-7 overall to have the best chance of competing among the top D3 programs this winter.