30 Girls Teams to Watch this Fall: Dana Hills (SS)

It's time to get fired up for cross country! Our traditional XC countdown is back, although it may look a little different this time around - our longtime data analyst Jeff George has moved on, leaving this energizing project to the MileSplit team in CA. Our collective goal is to briefly highlight 30 boys and 30 girls teams that we think will have an impact this fall. We will spotlight one team per gender per day over a 30-day period. Similar to past countdowns, we will provide a cross-sampling of teams from all 10 sections without regard to statewide or even division ranking (those will come later, as will articles previewing each section, and returning athletes to watch). As always, if you catch an error or have updated information for us, email CA state editor Jeffrey Parenti (jeffrey.parenti@flosports.tv) and we'll make the corrections.

Dana Hills (SS/Division III)

The prestige that is the Dana Hills Cross Country program extends all the way back to the 1980s, garnering postseason accolades on both sides as a consistent power at the California State Meet. As it was only four years ago that the Dolphins competed in Division 1, they move into Division III for the first time in the school's history as the school's population dipped under 2100 students for the first time.

Senior Allura Markow has been THE headliner for Dana Hills since her breakout freshman season when she placed eighth (17:51.2) at the State Meet in 2019.  She continues to progress and is coming off her best track season to date as a State Meet finalist for the 1600 meters (4:50.89) and improved down to a 10:50.88 for the 3200 meters.

But, what elevates Dana Hills as one of California's top teams is what comes in behind Markow.  In a testament to their depth, only three other squads in California have six girls returning with sub-20 minute credentials on the Woodward Park 5K State Meet course.  They are the only Southern Section crew returning four girls with sub-19 minute bests from the Mt. SAC championship course.  

Entering his fifth season as head coach, Dana Hills alum Nic Smith is optimistic about the continued development of sophomore Annie Ivarsson. Juggling a full-time soccer schedule, she is coming off 5:03.96 and 11:10.38 bests as a freshman.  Junior Cooper Murphy, who lost almost a month of training in 2021 is also coming in strong with a 5:19.00/11:24.03 track season.  Fellow juniors Paige Scheer (5:25.57/11:41.60), Tessa Anderson (5:18.81/11:53.23) and Quinci Lott (5:27.50/11:57.97) also return with valuable postseason state meet experience.  

Seniors Angie Lopez and Zoe Ott will also look to make their scoring five with the former improving to an 11:47.68 for the 3200 meters this past Spring.  

Reflecting back to this past Track season, the girls are fifth in California for the 3200 meters (11:21.11 average) and the best group of returners in the Southern Section.  They were only one of three squads (Buchanan and Great Oak), returning seven girls under 12-minutes while their returners also averaged a stellar 5:11.65 (No. 10 in California) for the 1600 meters.   

This group is one of the top squads in the Southern Section as they return everybody from the same group that placed seventh at the Division II state meet and was fourth a week earlier at the CIF-SS Finals.

The Dolphins are favored to capture the CIF-SS Division 3 title but should have their hands full when they face off against two-time defending Division III state champions, Campolindo while Cathedral Catholic and Del Oro (state meet runner-up) also return a strong core.


2021 Returning Times for 5000 Meters

Dana Hills (SS)
1) Allura Markow18:11.3035
2) Annie Ivarsson19:04.60130
3) Paige Scheer19:14.10157
4) Cooper Murphy19:17.40170
5) Tessa Anderson19:41.30230
Average Time: 19:05.74 Total Time: 1:35:28.70 1-5 Split: 1:30.00
6) Quinci Lott19:58.30278
7) Angie Lopez20:16.10350
Scoring is against all returning girls teams in CA.

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Mark Gardner is a teacher, former coach, in-demand announcer, and a regular contributor to MileSplit.

Photos by DeAnna Turner