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.
Crescenta Valley will have plenty of firepower up front this season! They already had star rising senior Rowan Fitzgerald, who clocked 4:13 and 9:22 this season and has a PR of 15:13 for 3 miles (expect him to go well under 15 this fall). Now they are adding rising junior Parker Simmons, transferring from Hoover, with his 4:24 and 9:24 marks (he ran 16:01 back in 2019 and hasn't recorded a cross country race since). That's going to provide two low numbers in every race, which certainly helps the team prospects overall.
Depth is going to be the issue for the Falcons, and their lack of participation in cross country this past winter doesn't give us much to go on. We do know that they had the 8th-best group of freshmen and sophomores in the state back in 2019, we just don't know a lot about how much they've progressed. Bryce Bitetti had a solid spring and should be a strong #3 runner with a chance to push Simmons for the #2 spot. Fellow senior Max Ruiz also looks like a top 5 runner, and rising junior Harrison Connors has improved significantly. Still, Crescenta Valley badly needs to cultivate depth.
So that's where we need to fall back on team history a little bit. The Falcons have been 2nd, 5th, and 7th in the last three Southern Section Finals, showing steady improvement and increasing competitiveness each year, culminating in an 8th-place finish at the 2019 state meet and 9th-place in 2019. They were actually poised to be very strong this past school year, but decided (or were forced) to avoid cross country altogether. Still, Fitzgerald and Bitetti have both been to the state meet, and the presence of four seniors in the top 7 indicates the potential for strong leadership.
Based on what we know, I would say Crescenta Valley is in line for another top 7 finish in the CIF-SS finals. To repeat their 2019 results, though, the team needs one more top 5 quality athlete to emerge in addition to their transfer.