25 Girls Teams to Watch this Fall: Sage Creek

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.

Let's get one thing clear: Sage Creek isn't good for a Division 4 school, this team is just flat-out good. We noted back in 2019 that the Bobcats had a load of talent returning, enough to rank 6th in the state for 5K (counting only freshmen and sophomores at the time). They have followed that up with the 12th-best returning team 5K ranking in California this past winter, which shows that they're right on track despite the disruptions to training and competition.

Stormy Wallace led the team in 2019 and leads it still in 2021, clocking 17:17 and 10:31 this past semester (both PR's). That 5K time makes the senior the top returner in the state individually, a clear threat to win in any race she runs. Rising junior Malia Leupold returns as a strong #2 runner, and Sage Creek has picked up another potential star in sophomore Kaya Scuba (18:33 and 5:03 in her freshman seasons). That forms the best returning 1-2-3 punch in the state (at least, based on the limited data from the 2020-2021 school year).

I do have one concern about their squad for the upcoming fall season: depth. After the top 3 listed above, the team drops off pretty sharply whether you're looking at cross country or track times. The return of senior Madeline Mack would certainly help (she hasn't raced since the 2020 outdoor season), and so would a return to top form for fellow Class of 2022 member Kiaya Rowlett. Can the Bobcats develop new talent to back up their front three and compete for the D4 state title again? Perhaps rising soph Sofia Fossee can step up over the summer, or the team could continue their streak of discovering at least one new top 5 caliber athlete every year.

That leaves a lot still to be settled, but I can say one thing with certainty right now: Sage Creek will roll through the San Diego Section Division 4 competition, and could be the best team in the section without discovering a new star. They could even win at the state meet as currently constructed, but I think it would be a close battle for them. With one more top 5 runner on board, though, this would be the clear team to beat in D4.