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.
During our last full cross country season in 2019, Arnold O. Beckman showed significant progress thanks in part to an infusion of young talent. The Patriots finished 9th in the Southern Section finals (32 points away from making the state meet) while fielding a combined 5 freshmen and sophomores. That's a solid core of runners to build around, and we have plenty of evidence of their progress over the last 2 years.
To begin with, the Patriots put 3 girls under 18 minutes for 3 miles in February and March, plus one more at 18:27. That ranks them 3rd in the state in the returning team 3 mile. The team also showed significant returning depth, with 3 more runners between 19:00 and 19:09. That's a bit of a wide spread across the top 7 for a championship-level team, but it shows the raw talent is in place to build a contender. This isn't new, either, as Beckman ranked 3rd in 3 mile frosh-soph team rankings back in 2019 - and the team has improved slightly since then despite all the training obstacles faced over the last 18 months.
We also have some strong track results to support the cross country data. The Patriots have the 7th-best returning team 3200 ranking in California, although there is a big drop-off after their top 5 on that list. Both seasons of the 2020-2021 school year show the same picture of this Beckman team: they have a potent top 3 in rising seniors Estella Knobbe (17:56/11:18) and Isabella Tasser (17:43/11:29) as well as junior Joy Weber (17:46/11:23), and they have the potential for solid depth. Seniors Daniella Silva, Morgan Schmidt, and Regan Lalloway will be joined by juniors Melanie Pakingan and Sophia Budd in trying to reinforce that front group and form a cohesive top 7.
With that much leadership and some championship experience in the past, this is a team that looks one strong summer of training away from being one of the better teams in the Southern Section D1 race and breaking in to the top 10 in the state meet. My only concern doesn't really apply to the upcoming fall season: this squad is senior-heavy and needs to develop some runners from the rising sophomore and freshman classes or it will be hard to sustain their success. For 2021, though, I think this is a team that may be off people's radar just a bit but should be watched closely in the early season.