25 Boys Teams to Watch This Fall: Dana Hills

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.

This was a good time for Dana Hills to have a big freshman class. The Dolphins had 16 rising sophomores record times in both the 1600 and 3200 this past spring, the same number that raced at three miles at least once during the winter, led by Garrett Woodruff.

That huge freshman class will help reload the roster for the Dolphins, who graduated three of their top 4 runners (and 5 of the top 7). Thankfully, that doesn't include senior star Jai Dawson, who posted PR's of 1:53 and 4:09 during track season to show that he came through the pandemic in good fitness. He is joined in the Class of 2022 at Dana Hills by Nick Burke and Nathan Scheer, who both ran 10:01 for 3200 this spring and look like solid top 5 runners. Rising junior Jude Landgraf also clocked 10:01 to go with his 15:42 in the winter, leading a strong junior class that includes Nick Burke and Derrick Grassmann

Putting all of that together, the Dolphins turned in the 14th-best returning team 3 mile ranking in the state this past winter. Their returning team 3200 ranking is almost identical, coming in at 13th in California. Those are solid but not spectacular numbers, although the team's youth does make them look more favorable. In retrospect we should have seen this coming; the Dolphins had the 7th-best frosh-soph 3 mile group back in 2019.

So that brings us to the final question: can they pull everything together this fall? The timing could be perfect, capitalizing on Dawson's ability up front at the same time that younger runners are poised to take big steps forward (which most often happens going into the junior year for boys).