XC PREVIEW Southern Section Division 3


Pasadena senior Isaiah Givens (469) was second in the Southern Section Division 3 cross country finals in 2019 and 11th at the D-III championship race at State. He is the top returner in the state in the division and one of the best regardless of divisions. (John Hays photo)


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As we look into our proverbial crystal ball for Division 3 in the Southern Section, we immediately find the arrival of West Torrance. The Warriors are consistently on the cusp between divisions and are now back after placing seventh at the 2019 CIF-SS Division 2 finals. Plugging in their effort from that 2019 final, they would have been right there battling with Agoura, who earned the Division 3 title.

The boys of West Torrance, year in and year out, continue to be one of the top 10 squads in the Southern Section, regardless of division. Head coach Jason Druten has a cast assembled that is heavily favored to earn their fourth title in the past six postseasons in 2021 (one of those coming in Division 2).  

Based on this past track season, West is the only squad with four boys under 10:25 with three of those dipping under 4:30. Conor Gibson (pictured; 4:28.70/9:17.23), Matthew Frey (4:29.03/9:39.05) and Hayden Green (4:27.21/9:44.12) present a trio that is unmatched in the division and one of the best in the Southern Section.

Can anyone catch West Torrance on the boys' side? 

Rival Palos Verdes has advanced to the State Meet in 13 of the past 14 seasons with four divisional titles, including that epic down-to-the-wire victory over West Torrance in 2018. On paper, the Sea Kings have a lot to make up to continue the tradition of reserving a spot in Fresno. Will Kirk is coming in off a 4:23.81 season (seventh at the Div. 3 finals) while Luke Stefanou impressed with a 9:33.81 this past spring while he placed sixth at the Division 3 final.  

If there's a threat to West Torrance, it is a group that follows them into Division 3 in Capistrano Valley!

Much improved over the past several years but yet falling short of the State Meet in Division 2, head coach Matt Soto did a great job keeping the troops focused during COVID as evidenced in their performances this past spring. Jack Stevens will be the catalyst up front coming in off a 4:28.88/9:28.68 season as a sophomore. The Cougars have never qualified for the State Meet but we project them for a top-three finish, especially off of the continued momentum they've built the past several seasons.

Another squad that welcomes the move into the division is Mission Viejo. Junior Caleb McDaniel comes in with 4:29.64 credentials while the Diablos are only one of three squads with three boys running under 10:20 for the 3200 meters this past spring. Breaking a string that went back to the 1990s, they last advanced to the State Meet out of Division 2 in 2016. They should be a major player in Division 3 for 2021.

Brea Olinda is projected to advance to their 12th consecutive State Meet appearance. The return of Manny DeBarros (who last competed just before the COVID-19 shutdown) will head a cast that includes two others that eclipsed the 4:40 barrier this past Spring.

Sonora also comes in with a solid crew, led by Alexandro Vielma (4:27.73/9:35.54) while Torrance possesses impressive depth and will be one of the contenders for a State Meet spot this November.  Also, watch for St. John Bosco. Head coach Tim McIntosh has led the program to seven State Meet berths in the past 12 postseasons. The duo of senior Chris Chavez (4:24.02 in the 1600 meters) and sophomore Aiden Aldana (9:47.73 for 3200 meters) leads this group.  

A true sleeper to watch for? Santa Margarita returns five of its top six from this past truncated cross country season and continued to impress during the track season. But, the true 'X' factor behind the Eagles this upcoming season is new head coach, Marty Dugard! Coming over from JSerra program this past winter, Dugard has personally guaranteed 'on record' that his boys will compete for the divisional title. Zach Gibson was one of the top freshmen in the state this past spring with 4:29.36/9:54.55 bests and was very impressive at Ryan Bosquet Memorial Run two weeks ago where he placed fourth against a stellar field.  

Individually, one of the top names in the United States will run away with the Division 3 title in 2021 -- Isaiah Givens of Pasadena! Givens is coming off an absolute monster junior season where he emerged into one of the nation's best in erupting to a 4:07.00 for the 1600 meters and 8:53.29 for the 3200 meters. He placed second at the 2019 CIF-SS Divisional finals and placed 11th at the State Meet as a sophomore.

The second faster returner from the 2019 cross country final was also a major part of Agoura earning the 2019 divisional title. Now a senior, Ethan Godsey (Bib 24 competing at the 2019 State Meet) continued to improve from that sophomore season and comes in with 4:14.60 and 9:18.96 lifetime best on the oval this past spring.

Servite's Jared Steins (9:24.56) has been one of the most improved in the section this past year. San Marcos' Jacob Snodgress impressed as a sophomore at the 2019 cross country finals and rolled to a lifetime best of 4:26.59 on the track. Capo Valley's Stevens is also projected for a top-10 finish as is the aforementioned trio from West Torrance.  

2019 Team Champions

Division 3: Agoura (3rd at State)

Seven Across The Line

(Top seven freshmen/sophomore finishers at the 2019 CIF-SS Division 3 Finals. Schools may no longer be in D-3.)

2. Isaiah Givens (Pasadena), 26. Ethan Godsey (Agoura), 27. Jacob Snodgress (San Marcos), 37. Alejandro Alvarez (Rowland), 38, Christopher Chavez (St. John Bosco), 40. Jared Steins (Servite), 47. Noah De La Rionda (Royal).