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.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: sustained excellence is hard. That's why I never stop appreciating the success of the Lowell program in San Francisco, who year in and year out develop deep teams that dominate their section. Even when cross country isn't a thing, as was the case this past winter for the Cardinals, I can still find ample evidence of their projected strength for the upcoming fall season.
Let's start with their freshmen and sophomores from the 2019 season (unfortunately, their last cross country season). Lowell ranked first in the CIF-SF, with Elizabeth Holcombe and Jenna Satovsky both running in the mid-18's for 5K that year. They will both be rising seniors this fall, and Holcombe's return will be crucial if the Cardinals want to achieve their full potential (she did not compete in the spring and hasn't raced since the fall of 2019). Satovsky led the way to the section's best returning team 1600 and returning team 3200 rankings, although I have to admit that Lowell was the only team to put up the required 5 returning times.
Rising sophomore Lois McTrang had a good debut season in the spring, but behind those three the depth falls off precipitously. Given the program's historical ability to develop talent, though, I chalk that up mostly to the pandemic and the immense difficulties it caused in San Francisco. The return of senior Ali Sorenson (same situation as Holcombe) would help a lot, but either way the Cardinals will need several runners to step up this summer and fill out the top 7. At the moment, however, there is no clear challenger to Lowell's San Francisco Section supremacy, and I don't see anything changing this fall.