San Diego Section Boys Cross Country Preview
This article has been updated to correct the 2019 San Diego Section team champion in Division 4.
There is an element of mystery heading into the 2021 cross country season in San Diego after having a mini-season in the winter without a state championship. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, different parts of the county approached 2021 in vastly different ways. The South and East County stepped back 50 years or so and ran mostly 2.4 miles. The City Conference used Balboa Park and ran mostly 3.11 miles while the North County was all over the map.
Hopefully, everything will return to normal for 2021.
Bryce Gilmore (Sage Creek), Nathan Osborn (High Tech SD), Landon Mullins (Coronado), Joaquin Hernandez (Del Lago), Shervin Bahmanpour (Sage Creek), Michael Butcher (St. Augustine), Jose Dominguez (Madison).
Kenan Pala (Francis Parker), Alex Bobowski (Santa Fe Christian), Mark Trammel (Santa Fe Christian), Pablo Chapman (High Tech NC), Jesse Smith (Francis Parker), Quinn Spieker (Francis Parker), Micah Sanchez (Liberty Charter).
2019 Team Champions
Division I: Torrey Pines (15th at State)
Division II: Poway (15th at State)
Division III: Cathedral Catholic (4th at State)
Division IV: Crawford (17th at State)
Division V: Francis Parker (3rd at State)
Can't Miss Invitationals
Bronco Invitational at Kit Carson Park, August 28
Mt. Carmel Invitational at Balboa Park, September 18
Kit Carson Invitational at Kit Carson Parker, October 22
It has been a while since the San Diego Section has had two strong contenders for individual titles based on their performances over the past two years. Francis Parker's Kenan Pala (Lizette Adams photo) in Division V and Sage Creek's Bryce Gilmore in Division IV will be among the top three heading into the season.
Pala was fourth at the CIF-State Meet in 2019 at 15:46.1 and is the top returnee from that race. With times like 15:14 for 3.1 miles, not to mention a 9:02.92 for 3200 meters on the track, Pala has proven to be a big-meet competitor.
Gilmore is actually the faster of the two runners, having been part of that ridiculously deep Arcadia Invitational 3200-mile in the spring, clocking an 8:58.82. He was 13th at the State Meet in 2019 but only one runner returns who was better than his 15:43.9 and that was Scotts Valley's Jeremiah Kain at 15:43.1 in 12th. Gilmore's 14:52.8 for 3 miles and 15:10.0 for 3.1 miles show he has the ability.
Others to keep an eye on early in the year to see who has shown the most improvement are runners like Santa Fe Christian's Alex Bobowski (16:00.1 for 11th in D5 in 2019), Cathedral Catholic's Blake Levy (16:08.9 for 33rd in D3 in 2019), and Hilltop's Jimmy Byland (15:53.5 for 45th in D2 in 2019).
On the team front, the section has not been a team contender very often ... no school has won more than one state title. Ever. Only three total. Ever. And it could well have been four based on how Santa Fe Christian finished last year in Division V. But there was no state championship to prove it. That's not to say it couldn't happen this year, however. Mt. Carmel in Division II has five quality runners returning and Santa Fe Christian loses just one runner from its top five. San Marcos and El Camino are strong in D1 but that division is impossibly deep and talented.