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What: CIF-San Diego Section Cross Country Championships
Where: Morley Field, San Diego
When: Saturday, Nov. 20
Time: First race 8:30 a.m.
Can Sage Creek's girls, with Stormy Wallace (pictured) leading the way, make it four straight section titles en route to a third straight state championship?
Can Cathedral Catholic's super-deep girls live up to their No. 1 Division III state ranking by capturing their fourth straight crown?
Will the Otay Ranch boys break into the Division I all-time champions?
Those are just a few of the questions that will be answered Saturday when the San Diego Section holds its 10 division championships over the 3-mile Morley Park course, which doubles as the state qualifying meet.
Below is a division-by-division breakdown.
STATE MEET QUALIFICATION
2019 SAN DIEGO SECTION TEAM CHAMPIONS (Results)
|Division I||Torrey Pines||Canyon Crest Academy|
|Division II||Poway||Mt. Carmel|
|Division III||Cathedral Catholic||Cathedral Catholic|
|Division IV||Crawford||Sage Creek|
|Division V||Francis Parker||Santa Fe Christian|
It was looking like it would be a showdown between No. 1 Otay Ranch and No. 2 Patrick Henry until last Saturday when El Camino jumped into consideration by winning the North County Conference Coastal League title (not to be confused with the small-school Coastal League). It's really wide open individually as Patrick Henry's Preston Bowlds (15:43.9 for 3.11 miles) and James Brumley (15:51.60) are the front-runners. Otay Ranch's Ayden Wohlford leads the Mustangs, who put five runners in the top 10 at league with a 30-second gap 1-5 and 19 seconds 2-5. El Camino soph Omar Reyes was impressive beating seniors Johnathan Hidle of Torrey Pines and his Wildcats teammate Nicolas Saenz in the Avocado League.
Talk about impressive-how about Rancho Bernardo's Jacey Farmer? The BYU-bound senior, who dropped soccer and regained her form, handily beat Del Norte's Hannah Riggins (18:09.1) and Poway's Mackenzie Rogers (18.14.5) with a 5K PR of 17:40.0, the lone sub-18 all day, in the league meet. Teamwise, Torrey Pines' girls obviously took a break in the Coastal finals, with only Annika Salz (3rd in 18:38.3) in the top 15. That means, if they're healthy, they'll be fresh in their showdown, again, with Del Norte. San Marcos is looming. The rest of the county doesn't seem to be in a position to challenge here unless Mira Mesa's Mallory Asis, who ran 18:00 last winter, regains her form or Eastlake's Vanessa Vuong can continue to impress after winning the Metro Conference at 2.55 miles with a 15:54.8, winning by 41 seconds.
Those who were thinking maybe Mt. Carmel was slipping got a different message at the Palomar League finals where the Tommy Bell-led Sundevils easily topped San Marcos 45-59. With three runners in the Top 10, the Sundevils also had all five scorers in the teens with a 49-second gap 1-5. Grossmont has been chasing Mt. Carmel all year and after going 1-2-4-5 in the Grossmont Conference finals, the Foothillers, led by junior Russell Blakely (16:55 for 5K) and Ian Rosen (17:06), appear ready if any of the 5-6-7 runners move up. Scripps Ranch, led by Ken Belt's third in 16:15, also had three in the Top 10 and won't have to worry about Cathedral Catholic any longer.
It was plenty hot at Guajome Park and some of the runners definitely felt it. Poway had its top four in the top 11, but No. 5 was 11 places back. That, and Tessa Buswell wasn't quite up-to-speed in sixth place with Mackenzie Rogers the No. 1 Titan at 18:14.5. Coaches with state hopes did not run all of their best, especially those nursing or coming off injuries. This is the week that matters. Mt. Carmel also appeared to wither in the heat (placing fourth in the Palomar) while Scripps Ranch was surprised by D-III University City in the Western League. Looking for a dark-horse? Steele Canyon went 2-6 in the Grossmont League with just a 22-second gap.
Cathedral Catholic isn't just the girls program -- watch out for the Dons boys here and at state. With a front-runner like Western League titlist Blake Levy (15:49 for 3.11 miles) and Matthew Jabro (16:33), Cathedral has the ability to close the gap between 3-7 quickly. The South County could provide the push here with Hilltop's Jimmy Byland in gold medal contention after winning the conference meet by 18 seconds in 16:11.0. He started the season fast, backed off, and appears in prime shape to challenge Levy. Parochial rival St. Augustine almost ambushed Patrick Henry in the Eastern Finals, losing 51-59. The Saints, the section's lone all-boys school, have improved almost every day with junior Jimmy Markowicz placing fourth in the league at 16:28.40. Like so many teams, the Saints need 3-4-5 to move up as a group.
All you need to know here is Cathedral Catholic went 2-3-4 and 7-8-9 with six seconds between 2-4 and 21 between 7-9 at the league finals. And, some of Cathedral Catholic's girls appeared to be taking it easy. Yikes! When the season started Dons coach Dan Geiger worried about La Costa Canyon dropping from D-II to DIII and the Mavericks are running well, winning the NCC Coastal League. Kyra Compton was a step behind TP's Annika Salz at 18:39.1 and Gioana Lopizzo was sixth at 19:54.1. And, while LCC has good depth, this year in this section in this division, it's not good enough. The race for the next two teams to qualify for state is wide open while Grossmont League champ Mikayla Horning of Santana should be in the individual mix after her 16:30 victory over 2.55 miles.
OK, everyone knows that JSerra has become the team to beat in state here, but anyone discounting Sage Creek, winners of the last two state championships, the last in record time, knows better than to count out the Bobcats. Not with Stormy Wallace (18:12.6 to win the NCC Coastal title) looking sensational and Malia Leupold (7th in 19:54.9) and Kaya Scuba (9th in 20:06.2) stepping down several divisions. Even with their No. 4-5-6 getting caught up in traffic, Sage Creek finished second in the team race. Anything but a fourth straight section title would be shocking. La Jolla, with the 1-2 sophomore punch of Kirra Fisk (18:50) and Daphne Mayer (19:37.7) had runners 3-4-5 just eight seconds apart.
This is the most anticipated race of the day with section No. 1 Francis Parker going head-to-head with No. 2 Santa Fe Christian. SFC is ranked No. 1 in the latest MileSplitCa poll but Francis Parker handled them at the small school Coastal League championships after that rankings posted. It appeared both teams held back a little saving some of the guns for this showdown. Unbeaten Kenan Pala, he who scorched the Mt. SAC course in the second-fastest time ever, is looking to crack 15 minutes here and SFC's Mark Trammel figures to provide the push. This one could come down to the No. 4 and 5 runners where SFC has fared better, but Parker has big-meet experience.
The Coastal League is clearly the best in Division V, so a look at last week's league championships at Kit Carson Park reveal a lot. In the team race, Francis Parker edged Pacific Ridge 67-71 despite not having a single runner in the Top 10. Classical Academy was next with 72 points and behind them was Santa Fe Christian with 74. Only three advance. SFC's Revere Schmidt, who won't be playing either of her other two sports, will be the individual favorite as teammate Eloise Martenson is slowly getting back to where she was two years ago. Track quarter-miler Madeline Cramer's days as a sprinter at Bishop's may be numbered as she was second in the league meet. Watch for twins Elsa Steer and Clara Steer of Pacific Ridge to move up dramatically.
Steve Brand is a freelance writer who contributes to MileSplitCA as the San Diego Section editor
Photos by Patrick Corsinita, Matt Ebiner, and Jeffrey Parenti