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.
As we move through this Teams to Watch series, we're going to have a number of what I will call "mystery teams." Given how thin our data is from the last 18 months, it's not surprising that there will be some teams that we normally expect to be very good, but right now we just don't have enough information to project them. This is the first such entry in the list. To put it simply, I know there's plenty of talent on Campolindo's campus, but I have no idea where the team is training-wise right now.
Looking back to 2019, the Cougars had the 3rd-best frosh-soph team 5K ranking in the state. Since that time, though, it has been an almost complete black hole of information. Take Alexander Lodewick, for example: he ran 15:48 as a freshman two years ago, finishing 3rd in the NCS championship and 16th in the state meet, and has only raced twice since then (one 1600 in 2020 and one 800 in 2021). In fact, the whole Campolindo team had only one meet during cross country this winter, and their track results were fairly limited.
Rhys Pullen, a rising senior, appears to be in the best shape of anyone on the team coming out of the spring, as he ran 9:49 for 3200 - he ran 16:03 as a sophomore and should be mid-15's or better this fall. Rising junior Blake Webster clocked 10:06, and then everyone else who competed in the race ran 10:59 or higher. Finn Jordan and Sam Smith have each recorded just a single race since they were top 5 in that frosh-soph group in 2019, and none of the three competed at all this past school year.
Campolindo has always produced contending teams, and the absence of racing isn't necessarily a bad thing - unless it indicates an absence of training. After all, we're talking about the defending Division 3 state champions (and both Lodewick and Pullen ran in that race, so they have championship experience on the squad). We'll just have to wait until the fall to see what the Cougars have been doing while they haven't been racing.