Sac-Joaquin Section Boys Cross Country Preview
Jesuit senior Braden King has gotten off to a fast start in 2021. (Dan Tyree photo)
Below is an overview look at cross country athletes to watch in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Because of the shutdown of the 2020 season and loss of the CIF-State Championships, a lot of our information below is based on returning athletes from the 2019 State Meet, 2019 Sac-Joaquin Section finals, and marks achieved during both the 2021 winter XC season and the spring '21 track season.
We're fortunate that the SJS has had a couple of key preview meets as well as season-opening meets this past weekend from which to draw data.
Information is based on results in the MileSplit database. Please let us know of any inaccurate or incomplete information.
Contests are underway in the Sac-Joaquin Section with the SJS Sub-Sectional scheduled November 6 with the SJS Championships, a State Meet qualifier, to be held November 13.
Tobin Coleman (El Dorado, Sr.), Adin Dibble (Sonora, Sr.), Ryan Dong (Christian Brothers, Sr.), Jace Fife (Hughson, Sr.), Cody Foxworthy (El Dorado, Sr.), Joseph Lighthall (Hughson, Jr.), Benjamin Sallee (El Dorado, Jr.), Elijah Sulivan (St Mary's, Sr.), Daniel Winter (St. Mary's, Sr.).
Logan Biddle (Colfax, Jr.), Andrew Burr (Sacramento Country Day, Fr.), Evan Espinoza (Waterford, Sr.), Carson Edwards (Millennium, Jr.), Aiden Grossman (Big Valley, Sr.), Jack Headrick (Capital Christin, Jr.), Jacob Kolster (Colfax, Sr.), Garrett Reinhard (Colfax, Sr.), Noah Starbuck (Colfax, Jr.).
2019 Team Champions
Division I: Jesuit (2nd at State)
Division II: Whitney (8th at State)
Division III: East Union (6th at State)
Division IV: Calaveras (4th at State)
Division V: Colfax (18th at State)
Can't Miss Invitationals
Lagoon Valley Classic at Lagoon Valley Park (Sept. 4)
Del Oro Invitational at Johnson Springview Park (Oct. 2)
De La Salle Invitational at Newhall Park (Sept. 18)
Sacramento Country Day freshman Andrew Burr had an impressive debut at the Sierra Invitational, dropping the third-fastest 2-mile time of the meet. (Dan Tyree photo)
Braden King, who placed 72nd at the 2019 State Meet, has emerged as the latest in a long list of star runners at perennial power Jesuit. King ran No. 5 for Coach Walt Lange's Marauders as a sophomore on the line at State, but has proven already this fall in two meets that he is already among the state's elites in Division I. With Newbury Park now moving up to the large-school division, that's saying something.
King, who has taken it to another level in chasing the ghosts of the recent past like Matt Strangio and Ajani Salcido, blitzed the 2.1-mile course at the annual Meeting of the Marauders in 9:45.4. He came back a week later to run almost a minute faster than anyone else at the meet, going 9:49.78 on the 2-mile Sierra Invitational layout.
Coach Lange's Marauders also bring back junior Jacob Swanson, welcome transfer Brandon Moreno, also a junior, and line up senior Preston Conner and impressive frosh Chase Cressman to battle for scoring positions.
Jesuit's top pursuer in the top division of the SJS, is Davis, which put three sophomores and a freshman on the line at the 2019 CIF-State Championships. The leading returner from that group is senior Zachary Ayers, who ran No. 1 for Davis at State as a sophomore and is the No. 3 returner from that race.
McClatchy senior Joseph Wiley is actually the top returner from the 2019 SJS Finals, where he placed fifth in the D-1 race.
Vacaville senior Kellen Steplight is the top returner in Division 2. He placed third at the section final as a sophomore in 2019 and 34th at the State Meet. With Newbury Park jumping up a division. Steplight appears to be the No. 2 returner from that race at State.
Bella Vista senior Sean Lacey is coming off an impressive track season and is certainly one to watch this fall. He was 35th in the SJS Final as a sophomore and very well could be the best in the division, if not the section, now.
East Union was the top team in the section in D-3 in 2019 with a young lineup that included three sophomores and a freshman who scored at both SJS and State. Senior Johnny Sandoval ran No. 1 in both and is the No. 5 returner in D-III from the State Meet race. Placer senior Wyatt Hamilton is the top returner from the section meet.
If everyone is back from 2019, the D-3 race at sections should be exceptionally competitive. Case in point: Nevada Union junior Wesley Selby won was 36th at the SJS race in 2019 as a frosh, was the second-fastest boy behind King of Jesuit at the Sierra Invitational 2-miler.
Calaveras won the D-4 race at the 2019 SJS Finals with a veteran lineup. Garrett Hesser, now a senior, ran No. 5 for Calaveras at SJS as a soph, and No. 4 at State.
Sonora senior Adin Dibble and St. Mary's senior Daniel Winter are the Nos. 3 and 4 returners from the D-IV race at the State Meet.
Colfax had just one senior when it won the D-5 title at the 2019 SJS Final, a team fueled by then-sophomores Jacob Koster and Garrett Reinhard, and then-freshmen Noah Starbuck and Logan Biddle. If that quartet returns in full, Colfax will be the team to beat in the small school division. Waterford, the runner-up in SJS Final, did so with now-senior Evan Espinoza running No. 2 (now a top-15 returner from the State Meet race), and then-freshman Jayden Frank-Key running No. 4.
Another youngster not to lose track of in the state's second-largest section is freshman Andrew Burr of Sacramento Country Day. He ran the third-fastest time in the merge at the Sierra Invite, 10:48.49.