'22 CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW - San Diego Section


Below is a division-by-division look heading into the 2022 season

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Teams to Watch

Graduation practically erased whatever slim hopes were in this division where the boys have never crowned a team champion. That's 45 years and counting. Otay Ranch pulled a bit of a surprise last season when the Chula Vista-based school won its first section title. That's the good news. Graduating four of the top seven isn't good and that's just what the Mustangs face. But, some of the younger runners now know what it takes to capture a section title. Look for traditional section power like Torrey Pines from the North County Conference to push the pace. The Falcons return five of their top seven and three of them were sophomores who could make dramatic improvement this year. Poway, which missed making the State Meet by seven points, moves up from D-II. (More about Torrey Pines)

Individuals to Watch

Oceanside El Camino junior Omar Reyes finished third in the section at 15:33.4, just three-tenths out of second, and is the top returning individual. His goal will be to improve on a 44th place finish at State. Poway's Derek Kirschbaum (5th in 15:46.6) jumps up from Division II and is an immediate challenger. Torrey Pines' Ryan Thomas (6th in 15:50.0; pictured), with the 1:52.34 half-mile speed, is the front-runner for the Falcons who also have fellow seniors Nathan Christmore (14th in 16:01.3) and Saul Johnson (21st in 16:12.0) among the top 25. Although Otay Ranch did take a hit here, Jake Shorey (10th in 15:54.6) and Jacob Juden (13th in 15:58.1) pack a powerful 1-2 punch. Look for Westview junior Adrian Welton (15th in 16:01.7) to move up in the section.


Teams to Watch

This is actually the section's most successful division in State Meet history, having won titles in 1990 with San Pasqual and 1992 with Mission Bay. Grossmont placed ninth at the State Meet in 2021 with four of its top five runners returning. But even in the SDS Finals there was a huge dropoff from No. 5 to No. 6 and now the Foothillers desperately need someone to step up to make the awards ceremony at State. San Diego Section runner-up Mt. Carmel has a front-runner returning but graduation stripped the Sundevils of their depth. Scripps Ranch edged Steele Canyon by three points for the final State Meet berth and both have quality senior leadership. Carlsbad and Chula Vista will move down here from D-I. (More about Grossmont | More about Steele Canyon)

Individuals to Watch

Grossmont's Ian Rosen proved the section's top individual at State when he made the victory stand with his seventh-place finish in 15:37.2. But it was Mt. Carmel's Tommy Bell who crossed the finish line first in the section championships, running 15:30.7 to top Rosen by five seconds. Grossmont was clearly focused on the team race at Balboa Park as Russell Blakely (pictured) captured fourth (15:43.4), Joshua Edwards eighth (15:56.6), and Mason Coyle 14th (16:16.2). All four return for their senior year with the battle now on for the No. 5 spot. Top 10 finishes also went to as well as the Steele Canyon duo of Dominic Rizzo (7th in 15:54.3) and Bradley Bell (10th in 16:02.8).


Teams to Watch

Seven teams battled for the three State Meet berths and there doesn't figure to be a lot of falling off. For starters, perennial D-IV power Sage Creek moves in to complicate matters. Chula Vista Hilltop took advantage of senior leadership to win the section but moves to Division II. Cathedral Catholic and Lakeside El Capitan actually tied for second, with the Dons superior depth giving them the runner-up trophy. Add in St. Augustine, University City, Point Loma, and La Costa Canyon, and this division figures to again be highly competitive. Just a hunch but six of the seven LCC varsity runners a year ago were sophomores and they all return. (More about LCC)

Individuals to Watch

La Costa Canyon's Jacob Niednagel (pictured) won a highly emotional race in 15:16.6 to give veteran coach Bill Vice a successful retirement present. A week later, the top returning individual was Point Loma's Manuel Correia who placed 20th overall in state at 15:44.8, behind graduated seniors Blake Levy of Cathedral Catholic (13th) and Jimmy Byland of Hilltop (14th). Niednagel returns for his senior season and will be pushed by Correia (3rd in second at 15:36.7) and University City's Gael McClain-Martinez (6th in the section at 15:49.7). LCC has a solid 1-2 punch with Niednagel and junior Hudson Shaver (10th in 15:55.6) among the front-runners and another five varsity lettermen ready to push the pace. Sage Creek's Aidan O'Toole (16:17.0) was fourth in D-IV.


Teams to Watch

This division is really wide open now that Sage Creek has jumped to Division III. Runner-up San Diego High Tech was senior-laden led by Nate Osborne, but is still better off than La Jolla and Escondido Del Lago Academy, which suffered massive losses. That could open the doors for steady programs like Valley Center and even Crawford, which has a large group of potential African-born runners attending the school. The Colts have surprised a lot of opponents who overlooked them in the past.

Individuals to Watch

Four of the top five finishers graduated and the fifth moved up to Division III. So, individuals like San Diego High Tech's Kai Lange-Dei (6th in 16:19.3; pictured) and Curren Hoffman (10th in 16:27.8), Valley Center's Brandon Rocha (7th in 16:20.9) and La Jolla's Isaac Chu (9th in16:25.2) suddenly find themselves battling for a section gold medal on a blue ribbon. Crawford doesn't have the front-runners but returning veterans like Jose Julian Mojarro (18th in 16:47.3) and Brian Truong (16:50.5) will certainly be a good place to start.



Teams to Watch

For four years, Francis Parker and Santa Fe Christian have made this not only one of the stronger divisions in the section, but these two programs have battled for the top position at Woodward Park. A year ago, Parker's Kenan Pala won the individual title but with Mark Trammell and Alex Bobowski going 3-4, SFC grabbed second place to Parker's fourth in the team race, reversing their placing at the section meet. Both teams certainly appear ready to push each other again with the likes of La Jolla Country Day, Liberty Charter, and Maranatha Christian looking to join the fray.

Individuals to Watch

Liberty Charter's Micah Sanchez kind of got lost a year ago as all the spotlights were elsewhere. He placed fourth in 15:33.6 at the section meet and proved to be just as tough on the big stage as he finished ninth at State in 15:42.0. Despite the losses on top, Parker junior York Bourgeois (7th in the section at 16:13.4; pictured) showed tremendous improvement and will be joined by veteran Quinn Spieker (12th in 16:44.0) and last year's freshman find Samuel Reggev (20th in 17:26.6). Hudson Kim (10th in 16:33.7) leads SFC while the Imperial Valley will be well represented by Holtville's Julian Reyna (13th in 16:45.9).