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.
Watch out for the Lions this fall! JSerra has always had a strong program, but their track results this spring are eye-catching nonetheless. This is the #1 school in California in the returning team 1600 rankings, sporting a trio of girls at 5:04 or faster plus very good depth (three more under 5:20).
JSerra excelled on the course as well this past school year. The Lions have the 6th-best returning 3 mile team in the state, putting their top 5 under 18:50. Their XC results don't show a ton of depth, but the times from track season are better in that department. All told, this team did more than enough in 2020-2021 to be considered a contender this coming fall.
One interesting this about this JSerra group: they did NOT grade out well in the 2019 frosh-soph rankings, which means they have largely constructed this squad from younger runners that were not around back then. Rising junior Cameron Murphy is the only athlete to appear on both lists, and she has improved greatly in the intervening time. Rising senior Ashley Gallegos didn't run in 2019, but now provides leadership and steady performance as a clear top 5 contender (she ran 5:12 this spring).
Behind those two, the entire team is all but brand new, given how little they've been able to compete. Sophomore Georgia Jeanneret leads the way after an extremely impressive freshman year in which she clocked 4:56 for the 1600 and 17:48 for 3 miles (not to mention a 2:11 800). Junior Anastasia Snodgrass (5:01/18:17) and sophomore Brooke O'Brien (5:04/18:33) help form a very potent 1-2-3 combo for the Lions. Lauren Moro and Ellie Johnson look like locks for the top 7 as well.
Put that all together and you have a team that is already quite strong and is still rising. JSerra only loses Gallegos to graduation this year, so they have a two-year window to contend for CIF-SS and state titles. If they can add just one more top 5 runner in that time (and given the strength of their last 2 freshman classes it's not unreasonable to think they will), we could be looking at a top 5 team in California overall.