In a much anticipated 2021 season in the Southern Section, the postseason moves back to its longtime home at Mt. San Antonio College. But, the first thing in order was the revealing of the playoff divisions this past Monday. Let's look at what major programs switched divisions, compared to when we last saw them during the 2019 postseason! Divisional assignments are dictated by the CBED numbers submitted by each school to the CIF-SS offices. Schools with over 2480 students were assigned Division 1.
Moving into Division 1, no one will dispute that the Newbury Park boys go into the 2021 season as the top team in the United States. Both their boys and girls are the defending Division II CIF-SS and State Champions with both qualifying for the national meet. Of course, their boys are the defending national champions and looking to expand upon that resume this upcoming Fall.
Both squads look to upend Great Oak's consecutive championship streak. While Great Oak's boys have garnered that past five titles, their girls are seeking their ninth straight Division 1 title. They will have their hands full with the girls of Newbury Park, who welcome Simi Valley transfer, Lexi Darley, who is coming in with 5:16.18/11:20.93 credentials from this past track season.
One of the most storied programs in the section, Loyola will bring their boys back to Division 1 as well. The Cubs placed fifth at the Division 2 finals in 2019 and return a strong contingent that is heavily favored to advance to their 14th straight trip to the State Championships.
The major headlining mover on the girls' side features Mira Costa. Head coach Renee Smith is renowned for having her girls' squads always delivering at their best in November. The Mustangs will be perched atop our Division 2 preseason rankings as the Dalia Frias-led squad is projected as one of the best in the nation, let alone, California. Mira Costa's boys qualified for the State Meet in 2018 out of Division 1 while placing tenth in 2019. They were the Division 2 runner-ups in 2016.
Remaining in the South Bay, West Torrance moves back to Division 3. Placing seventh at the 2019 Division 2 final, their boys will once again be right there vying for another divisional title in Division 3.
Ayala moves over to Division 2, which now places their boys and girls in contention for a State Meet spot. Their boys will be right up towards the top, battling the likes of Hart, Claremont, and Dana Hills in the preseason polls.
Other significant movers:
Tesoro moves from Division 1 to 2
West Ranch moves back to Division 2
Portola moves up to Division 2
Royal moves to Division 2 (2020 move)
Capistrano Valley moves to Division 3
Canyon Country Canyon moves to Division 3
Redlands East Valley moves to Division 3 (2020 move)
Woodbridge moves to Division 3
Simi Valley moves to Division 3
Esperanza moves to Division 3 (was in Div. 4 for 2020 only)
Mark Gardner is a regular contributor for MileSplitCA and serves as the Southern Section editor.
Photos by Lizette Adams and Patrick Corsinita.