25 Girls Teams to Watch This Fall: Mira Costa

It's time to get fired up for cross country! Our traditional XC countdown is back, although it will look a little different this time around - we just don't have as much quality data to approach it the way we have in the past. Instead, we will look at 25 boys and girls teams that we think will have an impact this fall in their section, in their division at the state meet, or even nationally. Unlike past countdowns, this year we're going to start with the clear contenders and then work toward some programs that might not be on your radar screen. As always, if you catch an error or have updated information for us, email editor Jeffrey Parenti (email at the bottom of every MileSplitCA page) and we'll make the corrections.

The Mustangs produced one of the best and most consistent statistical profiles in the state this past semester, which is no small feat given the circumstances. Looking at cross country times, Mira Costa ranks 2nd in returning 3 mile rankings and 7th in the returning 5K. On the track, is gets even better: this is the #1 team in California for returning 3200 times, and they also finished 8th in the returning 1600 team rankings

However, you don't really get a full sense of how good this team can be until you look at their 2019 cross country results. The Mustangs rank 5th for 5K and 6th for 3 mile looking only at freshmen and sophomores from that year - and that was before rising junior Anna Chittenden had a breakthrough 2021 season, clocking 10:50 and 5:07 to go with her 17:55 PR from cross country. For reference, Great Oak and Buchanan are the only two other teams to score single-digit rankings in all 6 team metrics we're using for this series.

Of course, everything starts with Dalia Frias up front for Mira Costa. The senior is a legit superstar, clocking 2:09, 4:46, and 10:15 on the track this spring. She was a Foot Locker Nationals finalist in 2019, and she is capable of breaking 17 for the 5K this coming fall. With Chittenden, Mira Costa has one of the best 1-2 punches in the state, and there is support behind them as well. Senior Ella Parsley ran 17:52 for three miles this year, then followed that up with a 10:50 3200, while junior Heather Jensen clocked 17:53 and 5:19. 

Leadership should also be abundant on this squad, as Lucca Franz and Kayla Kershaw join Frias and Parsley in the Class of 2022. Rising soph Margaret Baxter showed strong potential in cross country this past February and March, as well. If even one of the three girls in this paragraph has a strong summer and a breakout fall, the Mustangs are going to be hard to beat.

If there is a weakness here, it could be depth beyond the projected top 7. After 6 runners the times for the 3200 drop off sharply, and there is a smaller gap after 7 returning runners in the 3 mile. On the other hand, this is a program that has been consistently excellent for years, and I wouldn't expect them to suddenly stop developing young talent to shore up their top 10. Mira Costa is well within reach of exceeding their 5th-place finish from the 2019 state meet, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the top 3 of Division 2 at season's end.