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 (email@example.com) and we'll make the corrections.
Mira Costa (SS/Division 2)
The defending 2021 CIF-SS Division 2 champs will have their hands full with Newbury Park joining them in the division in 2022. Still, the squad projects to be stronger than they were a year ago, with five boys returning with State Meet experience and coming in with one of the program's best track seasons in California.
Their top boy from 2021, senior Andrew Martin returns after his 15:48.1 performance at last year's State Meet. Leading Mira Costa to a third-place podium finish, he is coming off a strong track season that saw him improve to 9:23.95 for 3200 meters.
One of Mira Costa's strengths in 2021 was their consistent ability and mindset to pack up their scorers within a sub-30 second bubble. That will be the case again as third-year head coach Hunter Johnson is as confident with this group as he was in 2021.
Equipped with one of the top sophomore groups in California a year ago, incoming juniors, Owen Franck (16:14.2), Parker Stickney (16:17.0), and Luke Graham (16:48.1) all ran well at the 2021 State Meet and return with that valuable postseason success. Stickney (pictured) improved down to a 9:35.22 this past spring.
Coach Johnson shared how senior Kai Graham, has made the most improvement. Not a member of the postseason group a year ago, he improved with 1:57.95 and 4:25.24 marks this past spring. Fellow senior Sean Alliegro shined as their fourth scorer at the CIF-SS Finals with a 15:47.7 performance.
With a strong sophomore class coming in, Ian Hansen established a new freshman school record with a 4:27.54 for the 1600 meters while Isaac Faynsod also made headlines with his 10:04.53 best for 3200 meters.
This past spring foreshadows what we expect from this group this Fall as for the 1600 meters, their top five averaged 4:27.35, to place eighth in California. In the Southern Section, only Newbury Park and Great Oak boast four returners running under 4:28.00. More impressive was the 3200 meters where their 9:41.00 average ranked them fifth in the state for returners. Mira Costa is only one of four teams in California to return six boys with sub-9:55 resumes.
Last year was their first divisional title since 1969, but they are not going anywhere anytime soon. Regardless of division, this is one of the top squads in California!
|Mira Costa (SS)|
|1) Andrew Martin||15:48.10||46|
|2) Owen Franck||16:14.20||124|
|3) Parker Stickney||16:17.00||132|
|4) Sean Alliegro||16:39.00||206|
|5) Luke Graham||16:40.50||211|
|Average Time: 16:19.76 Total Time: 1:21:38.80 1-5 Split: 52.40|
|6) Casey Atkinson||17:22.10||453|
|7) Kai Graham||17:22.20||454|
Scoring is against all California teams with returning boys.
Mark Gardner is a teacher, announcer, former coach, and a regular contributor to MileSplit
Photos by Patrick Corsinita and Raymond Tran