25 Girls Teams to Watch This Fall: Torrey Pines

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.

If we were ranking cross country teams by their top FOUR returning 5K runners, Torrey Pines would hold the #1 spot (seriously). The Falcons put four girls at 18:48 or faster this winter, which makes for an extremely impressive lead group, strong enough to propel them to 4th place in the (five-person) returning team 5K rankings despite the drop off to their 5th runner.

Results on the track support that front-running strength and also show some progress on the depth front. The Falcons finished 3rd in returning team 1600 rankings with five girls at 5:20 or faster, and also rank 5th on the returning team 3200 list (although there we once again see a gap after 4 runners).

The composition of this team is very interesting: seniors Annika Salz and Kiana Bourgeois are joined by junior Marissa Gaut and sensational sophomore Scarlett Taylor in that lead group. The development of fellow 10th-grader Natalie Wang gives Torrey Pines a very good returning top 5, and the presence of two other rising sophomores in their top 10 this past winter could be the answer to their depth problems.

Coming off a track season with runners that went 4:57/10:35 (Salz) and 5:06/10:57 Taylor), there's no question that the Falcons have to firepower up front to run with just about anyone. Torrey Pines desperately needs to develop more top 7 runners, though, as the specter of possible injury or illness always hangs over any team that is counting on just 5 athletes to contend. If this front four stays healthy, though, this could very well be the best team in the San Diego Section and a top 10 team in Division 1 overall.