RANKINGS - Updated Southern Section Top 25 Teams

From left, Anastasia Snodgrass, Georgia Jeanneret, and Brynn Garcia are among the deep lineup leading the JSerra girls cross country team. (Raymond Tran photo)

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1. JSerra (Div. 4) - Solidified themselves as one of the best in the nation based on results from the Woodbridge and Dana Hills Invites with six girls under 18-minutes with sophomore Brynn Garcia leading the way with her 16:09.7 clocking at Woodbridge. This will be freshmen Summer Wilson and Kaylah Tasser's first time on the Woodward Park course.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
2. Newbury Park (Div. 2) -  The top squad in the state for Division II, Ailish Hawkins and Tiffany Sax led the group to a Competing at Clovis this weekend.  Freshman Sophia Grant has made herself at home in the middle of the line-up with solid back-end scoring from juniors Danielle Brotcke and Maya Natarajan.  
3. Rancho Cucamonga (Div. 1) - Proved that the Woodbridge Classic was not a fluke by returning with a runner-up performance at Nike Portland XC Invite with an eye-popping 16-second scoring gap!  Nicole Alfred ignited this squad a year ago as a freshman, but juniors Madilyn Siana and Jaden Miura have also displayed solid improvement.  Freshmen Braelyn Combe and Malia Reinhold have made the difference.    
4. Great Oak (Div. 1) - They need the group close that scoring gap on front-running Kelli Gaffney. The 42-second gap at Woodbridge ballooned up to 100 seconds at the Bob Firman Invite.  The back four pack-score but want Gaffney closer in their sights all throughout.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
5. Dana Hills (Div. 3) - Competing with a partial squad at Clovis this weekend but between Woodbridge and Dana Hills, the Allura Markow-led group solidified themselves as one of the top squads in the state.  They will rested most of their squad this weekend at Clovis.    
6. La Canada (Div. 4) -  Overcoming the loss of their top runner has been unnoticeable with the addition of freshmen Charlotte Hopkins and Halo Ball while sophomore Maya DeBrouwer has been one of the most improved in the section!  One of the best in the state for Division IV and competing at Clovis this weekend. 
7. Oaks Christian (Div. 4) Payton Godsey has moved into the national spotlight, especially after her runner-up performance at the Woodbridge Classic several weeks ago.  With the return of Grace Geyer along with an improved Sarah Colebrooke, this will provide us with a nice preview of the Division IV battle for state supremacy next month!  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
8. Santiago (Div. 1) -  One of the top squads in Division I, sophomore Rylee Blade is fully healed and off to a strong start.  Audrey Buckley and the improved Kendall Lee have carved this unit into a state meet squad once again.  Freshman Taylor Davis  has also been a valuable addition.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.
9. Trabuco Hills (Div. 1) - One of the most improved squads in the Southern Section with Danica Brinkman leading the way up front.  Freshmen Skylar Watts and Anna Desormeau have been crucial, complementing the improvement from Jordan Lee and Claire Stuvland.   
10. Ventura (Div. 2) -  The Tigers are now so much more than Sadie Engelhardt as freshmen Aelo Curtis and Melanie True making huge impacts thus far. The all-underclass squad also features a much-improved sophomore duo of Caroline Von Gunten and Bailey Burman.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.
11. Citrus Valley (Div. 2) - Despite an 'off race' from their top runner, Hailie Lomeli at Woodbridge, freshman Odyssea Bravo has joined her sister, Isabella to give them a solid five.  Gabriella Romero and Itzel Del Rio have been interchangable as they look for their first ever state meet berth in the deep Division 2 battle in the Southern Section.  
12. Mira Costa (Div. 2) - Expect this squad to move by season's end with Anna Chittenden (17:00.7 at Woodbridge) carrying the torch for the Mustangs up front. Looking to place Sophia Parsley up there with Heather Jensen, like what we saw at the Laguna Hills Invite, is key with Nicole Murch leading their back-end scoring.  Competing at Nike Hole in the Wall this weekend
13. Saugus (Div. 2) - One of the most improved teams in the section with a trio of freshmen, led by Lucia Pearson, spearheading the campaign back to one of the section's best.  Veteran Ryan Vasquez welcomes the new faces as does Makenna Blum.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
14. El Toro (Div. 2) - Bounced back from a tough, physical race at Woodbridge to reveal their true talent at Dana Hills as Carly Miller bucked the trend by running 32 seconds faster than at Woodbridge.  Sophomores Lucy Varela and Dakota Danaher also lead the Chargers while Shae Barrera provides the veteran leadership.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.
15. Bishop Amat (Div. 4) - Earning that last spot to the 2021 State Meet, this group has continued to improve.  Emma Arredondo and Sophia Ebiner continue to pave the way for the Lancers while Madison Rust also brings veteran experience.  Camila Romo has shown tremendous improvement.  
16. Santa Monica (Div. 1) - Much improved and now in the running for a possible state meet spot, sophomore Phoebe Benun is in her first season of Cross Country and bringing the fire up front.  The quartet of Francesca Whited, Cleo Topp, Hawene Alomayeju, and Maeko Gross impressed at Woodbridge, finishing within a 16-second bubble.   
17. Huntington Beach (Div. 1) - Despite graduating two of their top three from last year's State Meet squad, the group behind Mackenzie McRae is driven to prove that the program is here to stay.  Freshman Emma Siok looks to rebound from a frustrating Woodbridge race, and join Luna Centeno in that second scoring slot.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
18. South Pasadena (Div. 4) - Based on this past track season's 3200-meter times, we were not surprised to see this group progress so well.  Abigail Errington leads the way but one of the most improved teammates in the section has been fellow sophomores Amelie Geoffron and Sofia Humphrey.   The Tigers have no juniors or seniors in their top seven.
19. Claremont (Div. 2) - Very impressive showing at Temecula Twilight while they will adding a transfer, Kaitlyn Smith, to their roster from here on out. 
Denise Chen and Alexa Gossett have been solid with freshman Isla Bulmer making this a State Meet-type unit once again.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
20. Ayala (Div. 2) - Still shorted-handed while allowing for Roxanne Ehrig to heal for the postseason, Emily Schott has been their stalwart up front, impressing with a 17:41 at Dana Hills.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.   
21. Redondo Union (Div. 1) - Lyla Fedio shined in her victory at Central Park last weekend while freshman Alexandra Manns clocked with another solid performance.  Projected for a State Meet slot in Division 1.  
22. Peninsula (Div. 2) - With Aishling Callanan leading the way, they have developed into a solid unit behind her.  Racing sparingly thus far, we only have Woodbridge to really draw upon as Makenzie Kordic (18:02.9) and freshman Alexandra Himebauch (18:10.0) impressing.  
23. Anaheim Canyon (Div. 2) - Has been one of the great question marks this season, dealing with injuries and inconsistencies thus far.  They look to add Brea Olinda transfer, Taylor DeBarros from here on out while veteran Makena Oliva will welcome the company up front.  Competing at Clovis this weekend. 
24. Harvard Westlake (Div. 4) - Battling for a state meet slot in that ever-so-tough Division 4, Kendra Ross and Iona Lee leading the group, while Helen Yang ran her best race of the year at Palos Verdes last weekend. 
25. Viewpoint (Div. 5) - The top team representing Division 5, JiaLian Mackey is the defending divisional champion.  Huge improvement from Micah Gutman has been a difference maker while veteran Ella Katz was the Patriots' second scorer at last year's state meet.  

On the edge: Beaumont (Div. 1), Chino Hills (Div. 1), Etiwanda (Div. 1), Mater Dei (Div. 2), Murrieta Valley (Div. 2), Palos Verdes (Div. 4), San Clemente (Div. 1), South Torrance (Div. 3); Tesoro (Div. 2), Thousand Oaks (Div. 3), Vista Murrieta (Div. 1), Yorba Linda (Div. 3), Yucaipa (Div. 1)

1. Newbury Park (Div. 2) - We finally get the goods this upcoming weekend at Clovis! Lex Young, Leo Young (pictured above), Aaron Sahlman, and newcomer Brayden Seymour take the line at an invitational for the first time.  Can the squad break 74 minutes again and average under 14:48 per scorer?  ...stay tuned for Saturday!
2. Great Oak (Div. 1) - With Gabriel Rodriguez and the Cortes twins up front, it was actually Nathan Lennox that led the group at the Bob Firman Invite. Lennox had not done the sport since 2019.  They showed up with a strong, fifth-place performance at Woodbridge and will compete at Clovis this weekend.  
3. San Clemente (Div. 1) - With a narrow 16-second gap between their top four at Dana Hills, the Tritons pulled a little closer to Great Oak on our charts.  Juan Chantaca, Brett Ephraim, and Rory Catsimanes have been a solid trio in the front.  Will compete at Clovis this weekend.
4. Ventura (Div. 2) - Not 100% healthy as we have yet to see their full squad click on all cylinders. The junior trio of Micah Grossman, Henry Hammell, and Nick DeGeorge have lived true to form while they await the return of Anthony Fasthorse and Grant Baysinger.  
5. Crescenta Valley (Div. 1) - Parker Simmons has been the definitive headliner for the Falcons but their four "Cs" with Harrison Connors, Luke Cheney, Jaime Cartnal, and Josh Chambers all providing ample support. Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
6. Mira Costa (Div. 2) - Took a tour on the Woodward Park course last weekend as they continue to work their way back to full strength.  Andrew Martin (14:39.3) rolled at Woodbridge while two other scorers from the 2021 divisional championship squad debuted last weekend.  
7. Redondo Union (Div. 1) - Aaron Thomas has elevated into one of the best in Division 1 while newcomer sophomore, Adam Divinity continues to close the gap.  The next five are all interchangeable making this group better than our preseason projections.  
8. Trabuco Hills (Div. 1) - Equipped with five underclassmen, sophomores Carsten Williams and Dylan Jubak have been the headliners thus far.  Moving from Georgia, junior Eli Griggs continues to move up closer to the two top scorers.  
9. Santiago (Div. 1) - Strong two up front in Van Filek and Dylan Deloyola and developing the back-end depth to close the scoring gap.  Looking to prove that they belong in the top ten on this list.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
10. Tesoro (Div. 2) - Still awaiting the return of Conor Campion, sophomore Griffin Kushen has been holding down the fort up front with Casey Goetschel not too far behind.  Competing at Clovis this weekend. 
11. Dana Hills (Div. 3) - What we saw at Mt. Carmel did not necessarily translate at the Dana Hills Invite but sophomore Evan Noonan will compete for a top-ten finish supported by a deep, interchangeable line-up behind him.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
12. Loyola (Div. 1) - History indicates that this squad will be in the top ten by the postseason, but as of now, they have been difficult to peg down.  Jake Ratkovich was their second scorer last weekend while Harrison Lavery assumed top duties while Henry Payne has been consistent.  
13. Arcadia (Div. 1) - With a limited racing schedule thus far, the Apaches has been a tough read but when reflecting on Brandon Chang's early season effort at Great Cow along with William Lynn at Woodbridge - the pieces are here for a strong postseason run. Competing at Clovis.  
14. West Torrance (Div. 3) - No matter who graduates, they always reload. With over 80 boys on the team, Aaron Cohen leads the senior-driven squad on a limited racing schedule. With the return of Yudai Shimizu, the battle for the Division 3 crown will be intense next month.
15. Palos Verdes (Div. 4) - Alex Naehu and Jake Typrowicz elevated the Sea Kings into one of the top squads in Division 4 with Matthew Farnsworth providing solid support. Several are in play for those last two spots.  
16. Thousand Oaks (Div. 3) - The trio of Liam Paravasiliou (15:01.3), Baptiste Garderes (15:03.5), and Oliver Clippinger-Zimmerman (15:07.3) impressed at Woodbridge to move this group towards the top of the Division 3 food chain.  
17. Santa Margarita (Div. 3) - With one of the top quartets in the section (three juniors), the Eagles have a lineup that is now interchangeable. Developing that fifth scorer and getting under a 75-second scoring gap is crucial. Competing at Clovis this weekend.
18. Hart (Div. 2) - Owen Ahten has been the catalyst for the Indians in 2022 with his 14:39.3 effort at Woodbridge. Loaded with veteran experience, led by Paul Mangione, equips this squad for another state meet run.  Competing at Clovis this weekend. 
19. Ayala (Div. 2) - Looking for another great postseason run that we saw in 2021, Malachi Morris came up big with his 15:06.1 effort at Dana Hills.  Fellow seniors Nathan Tsai and Joshua Aguayo bring valuable experience.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
20. St. John Bosco (Div. 4) - Very impressive showing, taking Santa Margarita all the way down to the wire last week.  Junior
Aiden Aldana has moved up as one of the best in his division while Andrew Perez and Isaac Becerra led a tight 13-second scoring pack.  Do not be surprised to see this group move up in the next month!
21. Saugus (Div. 2) - With Jacob Fredericks and Gavin Dion molding themselves into two of the best in the division, the group has moved into the state meet conversation.  Still awaiting a key scorer but one of the more improved squads in the section.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
22. Millikan (Div. 1) - So much more than junior Jason Parra up front as the program is one of the most improved in the section.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
23. Cathedral (Div. 4) - Emmanuel Hernandez rebounded after Woodbridge with a solid victory at the Bellarmine Invite last weekend.  Emmanuel Perez (14:44.9) was their top scorer at Woodbridge while the crew now seeks to solidify their back-end scorers.  
24. Glendora (Div. 2) - Nice step-up performance from the Temecula Twilight elevated this group into the top 25. Sophomore Kevin Sandoval impressed with a 15:00.7 at Woodbridge but it was fellow classmate, Dylan Flores that came up huge with a 14:50.7 last weekend.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.  
25. Royal (Div. 2) - Noah De la Rionda (14:33.4) and Jonah Bazerkanian (14:48.9) impressed at Woodbridge. Placing those last three scorers with a 60-second gap between these two is the key to earning another state meet berth next month.  Competing at Clovis this weekend.

On the edge: Agoura (Div. 3), Beckman (Div. 1), Claremont (Div. 2), El Toro (Div. 2), Fountain Valley (Div. 1), La Serna (Div. 2), ML King (Div. 1), Long Beach Poly (Div. 1), Oaks Christian (Div. 4), Santa Barbara (Div. 2), St. Francis (Div. 4), Woodbridge (Div. 2) 

Mark Gardner is a teacher, former coach, and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by Raymond Tran