CIF-STATE MEET - DIVISION III PREVIEW
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When last we all convened in Fresno for the cross country state championship, it was the North Coast Section that carried the day in Division III. Maria Carrillo's duo of Colton Swinth and Rory Small went 1-2 individually, but it wasn't quite enough for their team to overcome section rival Campolindo (NC) for the team title. Agoura (SS) was the top Southern Section team, finishing third, with Cathedral Catholic (SD) following in fourth.
On the girls' side, Del Oro's Riley Chamberlain led the field to the finish line, holding off Savannah Scriven of Palos Verdes. Campolindo made it a double championship with a dominant performance, leaving Cathedral Catholic to hold off Brea Olinda (SS) and Palos Verdes (SS) for second place, with the latter two teams ultimately tying for third (Brea won the tiebreaker).
TEAMS TO WATCH
Can the NCS repeat the level of success it was able to generate in 2019? Campolindo's boys are certainly rounding into form at the right time after beating Newark Memorial and Maria Carrillo last weekend in Hayward. All three are top 5 quality teams, although the competition for the podium will be fierce.
The main obstacle to North Coast domination is West Torrance, who ran roughshod over their competition in the Southern Section last weekend. We've had the Warriors ranked No. 1 in the division all season; in fact, they have been one of the top 5 teams in the state regardless of division this season. I would have to say that West Torrance is the favorite coming into this weekend, but I wouldn't be shocked if Campolindo is able to pull off the upset.
The next cluster of Southern Section teams should be challenging for the podium, as well: Santa Margarita, Capistrano Valley, and St. John Bosco are all quite evenly matched, with Brea Olinda and Agoura not far behind. Surprise SDS winner Hilltop could be in the mix for a top 10 finish, and you have to think Cathedral Catholic will have revenge on its mind. Tulare Western leads the Central Section brigade, while Oakdale is the top entry from the SJS.
San Diego has been strong all season, and I expect both Cathedral Catholic and La Costa Canyon to contend for spots on the podium Saturday. Cathedral Catholic got the win last weekend at Balboa Park by only 12 points, so there is both a potential state title and section bragging rights on the line here.
The North Coast is also loaded with strong girls teams, starting with Campolindo. The Cougars appear to have the inside track for the team championship after a dominant performance this past weekend (although Hayward's course isn't quite as challenging as Balboa or Mt. SAC). Tamalpais and Maria Carrillo are both top 5 caliber teams with a shot to be in the top 3 if either has a strong day. The chances of a 1-2-3 sweep for the NCS are slim, but not out of the question.
The Southern Section is uncharacteristically thin in this division (at least on the girls' side), but Palos Verdes has been looking stronger as the season progresses. Expect the Sea Kings to be right in the thick of the podium competition, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them break into the top 3. Brea Olinda and South Torrance are definitely top 10 teams that could pull off a top 5 finish with the right circumstances.
Finally, make sure you don't overlook Del Oro, which has ventured south for some big races and performed well. The Golden Eagles absolutely dominated in their SJS final and have had two weeks to gear up for this race. They are a contender for the team title at full strength, but they ran without Karissa Chamberlain in the section championship and did not show their customary depth in that race. If we see Del Oro's full potential on Saturday, that makes at least three teams with legitimate chances to bring home the title!
RUNNERS TO WATCH
Isaiah Givens (Pasadena) pulled away from the field at the Southern Section final, and he has been the No. 1 ranked 3-miler in the division all season. He ran 15:15.6 at Woodward Park back in early October, which should set him up for a run at 15 flat this weekend. Mario Giannini (Chico) was 19th in the 2019 State Meet, the No. 3 returner from that meet behind Givens and Alexander Lodewick (Campolindo). Lodewick and teammate Rhys Pullen both finished top 6 at the NCS championship, but they trailed champion Caden Carney (Tamalpais) by quite a bit. Carney looked like an individual title contender this weekend: He is ranked No. 4 in the division in the 3 mile, but he won by 19 last weekend over Jacob Donohue (Maria Carrillo).
San Diego Section winner Jacob Niednagel (La Costa Canyon) will be in the lead pack Saturday, as will runner-up Jimmy Byland (Hilltop). Central Coast champion Harrison Dance (Saratoga) should also be in the mix for a top 10 finish. I also wouldn't be surprised to see any of the next pack of Southern Section runners - Jared Steins (Servite), Will Kirk (Palos Verdes), Conor Gibson (West Torrance), Christopher Chavez (St John Bosco), Ethan Godsey (Agoura) - step up to push for spots on the podium.
Sophomore Joshua Bell (Templeton) is a hard runner to get a clear fix on. He won the Central Section title handily and hasn't been pushed since the Clovis Invite, but his mid-season times lagged behind some of the other contenders. He might be a year away, but he also might surprise some people this year. Another sophomore to keep an eye on: Max Fields (Palisades Charter), who won the LA City Section championship.
You have to have two-time state champion Riley Chamberlain (Del Oro) as your favorite coming into this meet. You might look at her races at Woodbridge and the Clovis Invite as signs that she is beatable - but she had almost the exact same results as a sophomore before taking the state title. All signs point to her being the runner to beat.
She will definitely have challengers, though. Mia Chavez (Chino) and Georgia McCorkle (Agoura) both have big races on their record, with Chavez getting the win at Mt. SAC last weekend. Sydney Rome (Yorba Linda) has been right there with them all season, as well. A pair of Comptons from the SDS should be in the lead pack, as well: Sophie Compton (Point Loma) pulled off a mild upset over Kyra Compton (La Costa Canyon) in their section final race.
Frosh Hanne Thomsen (Montgomery) ran away from Campolindo teammates Ellie Buckley and Shea Volkmer to claim the NCS title, establishing herself as a podium contender. I also wouldn't be surprised if Campo held back a tad last weekend, and if so we may see those two in the lead pack Saturday. I also expect to see Highland's Mia Torrecillas, the Central Section individual champion, competing for the podium.
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Jeff George is a MileSplit senior editor and regular contributor to MileSplitCA.
Photos by Angel Pena, Dan Tyree, James Leash, Jeffrey Parenti, and Raymond Tran.