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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll make the corrections.
Whitney (SJ/Division II)
The Wildcats girls cross country program has produced four Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 runner-up finishes since 2012 but has yet to win a section title.
Could this be the year?
After a disappointing fifth-place finish at the SJS Finals, it may seem a reach to even consider such a year-over-year turnaround in a traditionally deep division.
But consider, of the six who took the line at SJS, five return and four who scored, including section champion Katie Kopec (pictured). Now a senior, Kopec went on to place seventh at the CIF-State Meet (17:57.30) and is the No. 4 returner from that race.
Also back, is Ava Kopec, Katie's younger sister, who missed the end of the XC season last fall.
Others who figure in the Varsity 7 mix include sophomore Shay Waters and freshman Jane Landon.
On the track in the spring, Katie Kopec went 10:30 for 3200m, 4:57 for 1600m, and 2:16 for 800m. She placed third in the 3200m at the SJS Masters and placed 13th at the State Meet.
Ava, a junior, went 11:00, 5:05, and 2:17. She placed seventh in the 800m at SJS and is the No. 4 returner from that race.
Scott has bests on the oval of 11:45 and 5:24. Soto has gone 12:05 for 3200m.
Having the Kopec siblings out front with Scott and Soto in the scoring mix, the development of the young girls on the backend will go a long way to determining how realistic a fifth-to-first season will be.
|1) Katie Kopec||17:37.70||8|
|2) Ava Kopec||19:04.20||128|
|3) Grace Scott||19:36.00||212|
|4) Izzy Soto||20:09.80||327|
|5) Sophie Bowen||20:48.70||506|
|Average Time: 19:27.28 Total Time: 1:37:16.40 1-5 Split: 3:11.00|
|6) Tyler Williams||21:13.00||600|
|7) Alishia Elie||22:08.70||812|
Scoring is against all teams with returning girls in CA.
Jeffrey Parenti is the California State Editor or MileSplit
Photos by DeAnna Turner and James Leash
Interview by Kevin Selby