25 Girls Teams to Watch this Fall: La Costa Canyon

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 Mavericks keep rolling along! This has been one of the state's best and most consistent programs since I have been reporting on California cross country, and I don't see any signs of them falling off in 2021. La Costa Canyon once again has a deep team with strong young talent, but their full potential in the fall could hinge on a senior who didn't run cross country this past winter.

The Mavericks posted the state's 8th-best returning team 5K ranking this school year, and they did it with only one rising senior on the list. That was Kyra Compton, who had an outstanding spring overall - she clocked PR's of 18:11 for 5K, 5:09 for 1600, and 10:55 for 3200. That last time helped her lead LCC to the 12th-best returning team 3200 ranking in California, as well. Supported by rising juniors Kira Larner and Sophia Biesinger and now joined by rising sophs Gioana Lopizzo (11:35 for 3200 as a freshman) and Ella Bloom, that makes for a solid returning 5.

With all of that talent developing over the summer, La Costa Canyon will already be a contender in the San Diego Section. To challenge at the state level, though, they will need Rebecca Niednagel to return to her 2019 form, when she ran 18:26 for 5K. After missing the much-delayed winter season, she had a solid track season, so I'm hopeful that she entered the summer healthy and ready to push Compton for the #1 spot. With Niednagel on the roster, the Mavericks ranked 7th in the state in for freshmen and sophomores in 2019. That group also included rising junior Georgia Patyna and senior Jessica Oden, and both of them could have a significant impact on this team in the fall, as well.

If La Costa Canyon can merge the young core that ranked highly in 2019 with the freshmen they gained last school year, the combination could put them on the podium in November.