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.
Dublin had a luxury during the winter cross country season that most teams didn't - they had 100% of their meets at home (also several track meets). That could have been a factor in producing the state's 2nd-best returning team 3 mile ranking - but I think the talent on the team is the main reason, and I have evidence to support that.
To begin with, the current core of this Gaels squad didn't come from nowhere. Rather, this was California's 6th-best group of freshmen & sophomores for 5K and 10th-best for 3 miles - and those 3 mile times were run on the Bay Area's courses, normally a good bit slower than some of the race tracks in the Southern Section.
We can also look at track results, where Dublin ranks 12th in the state for returning team 3200. The numbers aren't spectacular, but the team's depth is clearly evident: they had only 2 runners under 10 minutes, but an impressive 9 that clocked 10:17 or better. That depth was also on display in cross country, with 6 guys going under 16 and another 4 under 17.
One last thing that interests me about this iteration of the Gaels: they have an absolutely loaded senior class. Dublin's top 5 XC returners (and 9 of their top 11) are in the Class of 2022. Daniel Trampe and Sharvin Manjrekar set the tone up front, with Joshua and Cole Turpin and Vincent Giannini not far behind. That's an abundance of leadership that should motivate the team to succeed in their final cross country season. Add in junior Nathan Manesh and you have a solid top 6, with several seniors and juniors vying to join them in the top 10.
Putting all of those factors together, I can see a path for Dublin to be the team to beat in the NCS this fall. My only concern is that the Gaels haven't gotten much from the rising sophomore class (at least, not yet). If they don't develop another wave of talent this year, graduation is going to hammer this team.