XC PREVIEW Southern Section Division 4


Foothill Technology comes in the 2021 season as not only the defending CIF-SS champions but it also earned the State Championship title as well. But, aside from the graduations losses -- the biggest loss to make up will be the retirement of head coach Ken Reeves. Arguably the most successful coach in California prep history in the sport, Reeves and his 15 state titles orchestrated the Foothill Tech program from the very beginning. He has now handed over the reins to longtime assistant, Kevin Dinkler.

With stats obviously being thin over the past 20 months, we will lean more on some of the top stars coming out of this past track season.

With that, Orange Lutheran looks to be the squad ready to take that next step and compete for the divisional title. The last time O-Lu's boys made the State Meet was all the way back in 2008 (out of Division 3). They placed 18th at the 2019 final but return four of their top six from that race, led by Tayne Patel.  The junior comes into the season off a track season that saw him posting 4:32.16/9:37.69 lifetime bests. The program is the only one in the division boasting three sub-10:10 runners while also lining up unmatched in the division with five sub-4:46 athletes.

Longtime stable, Laguna Beach earned the title in 2018 while qualifying for the State Meet the past three postseasons. The Breakers come in with three sub-10:16 boys with six altogether drifting under 4:55. With that leg speed witnessed from the 1600 meters, we can easily see the crew shore the apparent lack of depth and once again, return to the State Meet. 

The last time we saw Harvard Westlake, they qualified for the State Meet while being led by then-freshman, Hector Martinez. With Martinez since departed to Newbury Park, the Wolverines look to reload and are coming off a strong track season. With four boys under 10:40 for the 3200 meters and three of those boasting sub-4:45 credentials, we will not be surprised to see them qualify for the State Meet in 2021.

Foothill Tech will once again be in the mix up front and as mentioned earlier, the tradition of success will carry over. Also watch for St. Francis and nearby ally, South Pasadena. St. Francis has not had a team qualify to the State Meet this century but feature five boys that broke 4:56 this past Spring. The Tigers of South Pasadena say goodbye to their most talented graduating class in school history but that foundation left an imprint upon this 2021 team.

Hacienda Heights Wilson and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame also fared well this past track season and display the strength to be contenders for one of those seven State Meet slots. But, before we tie this up, NEVER count out perennial contender, Cathedral! The Phantoms were runner-up in 2019 while claiming the title in 2017. The program has qualified a team to the State Meet in the past six postseasons (three of coming out of Division 3).

Individually, the favorite coming into the 2021 season is Big Bear's Max Sannes. As a sophomore in 2019, he placed fourth at the CIF-SS divisional finals and qualified to the State Championships as an individual. He comes into the season confident as he captured the CIF-SS Division 4 title this past Spring in the 3200 with an impressive 9:18.51!  

Other top talents include the aforementioned Patel out of Orange Lutheran. Also shining on the oval this past spring was South Pasadena's Brady Nakamura, as he rolled to a 9:38.59 and 4:31.29 bests.

Laguna Beach senior Mael Metis will lead his squad up front as comes into the cross country season with a 9:44.57 best on the track. With his 4:22.90 best at the CIF-SS Division 3 finals this past track season, Luis Gudiel of Wilson will be one of the stars to watch for. Referencing the 3200 meters, Christian Rodriguez of Covina and Will Sheehy of Harvard Westlake also dipped under the 10-minute watermark this past Spring.

Meanwhile, junior Owen Hayden will lead his St. Francis squad as he impressed with a 4:28.52 best this past track season. Hayden is the third-fastest returner from the 2019 CIF-SS Finals. We also anticipate the return of Ocean View's Diego Gonzalez. As a sophomore in 2019, he placed 16th at the CIF Finals and claimed that last spot to the State Meet as an individual.

2019 Team Champions

Division 4: Foothill Technology (State D-IV Champion)

Seven Across The Line

(Top seven freshmen/sophomore finishers at the 2019 CIF-SS Division 4 Finals)

4. Max Sannes (Big Bear), 9. Hector Martinez (Oaks Christian), 16. Diego Gonzalez (Ocean View), 34. Owen Hayden (St. Francis), 36. Ishan Dubal (Oaks Christian), 39. Christopher Drews (Laguna Beach), 40. Julian Umana (Cathedral)