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.
The Mustangs have a strong returning core of six runners that all ran under 15:50 for 3 miles this past winter, and the best thing is that they only have 2 seniors in that group. That's why I think Mira Costa will have a contending team in the fall despite the loss of their top 2 runners from the 2020-2021 school year.
Rising senior Seamus O'Meara and junior Andrew Martin lead the returners, both of them clocking 15:22 in March (and Martin went on to run 9:34 in the spring, as well). Senior Max Levin was right behind in cross country and seemed to take a big step forward on the track with his 4:21 1600, giving the Mustangs a strong front three. After a small gap, we find another group of three featuring rising sophomore Parker Stickney along with juniors Kai Graham and Sean Alliegro.
Mira Costa's track results are a little disappointing at the front - other than Martin and Levin, nobody really stands out with big times. However, the spring did bring evidence of developing depth behind their returning six: three more rising juniors and three more rising sophomores that ran 5:01 or faster for the 1600. The Mustangs don't need that entire group to improve to succeed, but they would really benefit if even one or two made "the leap" to push for spots in the top 7. Given the historical strength of this program and its demonstrated ability to cultivate talent, it's not an unreasonable thing to expect.
Depending on which list you look at, this team has either three or four seniors in its projected top 12 this coming fall. That means the Mustangs could be poised to challenge in the Southern Section in 2021, while keeping their eyes on bigger prizes for 2022. I see a two-year window in which Mira Costa will be hard to beat.