The top-ranked and defending national champion Newbury Park boys cross country team, led by seniors Leo Young (left), Aaron Sahlman (center), and Lex Young, will compete for the first time in an invitational this season when they take the line in the boys championship race at the Clovis Invitational on the 5K Woodward Park course in Fresno. (DeAnna Turner photos)
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With the temperatures predicted to reach the mid-90s, those early-session championship races will conclude before it reaches the 70s. The girls are set to go off at 8:55 am with the gentleman taking to the Woodward Park course at 9:30 am.
GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE PREVIEW
Our answer is yes! Montgomery (NC) sophomore Hanne Thomsen, has been on an absolute roll this season, as evidenced by her 16:49 wire-to-wire win at the Nike Portland Invite. We project Thomsen flirting with the 17-minute elite standard. Currently ranked 14th in the nation, her best is 17:38 from her Division III State title effort from last year. Meanwhile, do not discount Scotts Valley (CC) junior Ashlyn Boothby, who comes into the race with a 17:28 best from placing third at the 2021 Division IV State Meet. Meanwhile, Oaks Christian's Godsey was only nine seconds behind Engelhardt as Woodbridge!
BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE PREVIEW
As a junior, Clovis High's Christopher Caudillo placed sixth at the 2021 Clovis Invitational, running 15:00.00, equalling the No. 11 time among CA boys at the meet over the last decade. (DeAnna Turner photo)
* * *We finally get to see the nation's top team, Newbury Park, revealing its full roster this weekend! With last year's squad storming its way to a 73:39 team time (14:43 average), the new elite standard of excellence was established. With seniors Leo Young (14:28) and Lex Young (14:31) running the Woodward Park 5K course at the State Meet to move that time down to 73:25. Senior Aaron Sahlman also returns with a 14:44 best that he ran at last year's Clovis Invite and the trio owns the three fastest junior times in course history. The senior transfer from Florida, Brayden Seymour will get his first crack at the Woodward Park course while junior Dev Doshi brings a 15:41 best as well.
As Newbury Park tops the charts for Division II, Great Oak's boys are ranked atop the Division I CA team rankings. Gabriel Rodriguez, along with Ramses and Mark Cortes, highlight the Wolfpack, but Nathan Lennox had a breakthrough performance two weeks ago to lead the crew. They are currently 12th in the nation on our MileSplit50 National Rankings.
But Granada (NC) placed ahead of Great Oak at the Woodbridge Invite and as the top California squad at Woodbridge, the Matadors are ranked tenth in the nation! Seniors Dheeraj Gurusamy and Roland Ruckmann-Barnes were the only California teammates to run under 14:30 at Woodbridge. Junior Eshaan Singh also crossed under 14:50 with two others under 15 minutes.
In an early mid-season sneak peek, we get to see how San Clemente (SS) and Crescenta Valley (SS) match up against one another as both are interchangeable in our CIF-SS overall team rankings. While the Tritons have the early season nod with their front-running trio of Juan Chantaca, Brett Ephraim, and Rory Catsimanes, this will be their first head-to-head contest of 2022. With Parker Simmons projected for a top-10 finish, the Falcons of Crescenta are also shooting for a top-five finish this Saturday.
Defending Division II CIF-State champs, San Luis Obispo (CS) was upgraded to Division I in the Central Section. Milo Skapinski owns a best of 15:37.1 for the Woodward Park course while Quinn White also leads the Tigers.
Led by Christopher Caudillo and his 15:00 performance from last year's Division I State Meet, the host school Clovis (CS) looks to establish itself as one of the top squads in the state.
Although not at full strength by any means, Ventura (SS) is one of the top squads in California for Division II with juniors Micah Grossman and Henry Hammell off to a strong start. Also competing for a podium spot in Division II later next month, Redwood (NC) returns all seven from a squad that placed sixth at the North Coast Section finals in 2021. Defending NCS divisional champ, Daegan Cutter, is projected for a top-ten finish as he rolled to 14:18.8 at the Woodbridge Classic last month.
Led by Evan Noonan, one of the favorites to compete for the Division III State title next month is Dana Hills (SS). Also representing the Southern Section, Santiago of Corona looks to solidify itself among the elite with Van Filek and Dylan Deloyola up front. Tesoro (SS) is one of the more improved squads in the section, led by the vast improvement of sophomore Griffin Kushen.
Individuals to look for include Long Beach Poly (SS) senior Cameron Rhone, who jumped into the national spotlight with his third-place, 14:59.1 performance at the Nike Portland XC Invite two weeks ago. Fellow Moore League foe, junior Jason Parra of Millikan (SS) was sixth in the same race after running 13:56.5 at the Woodbridge Classic as the top California finisher.
Sean Morello of Albany (NC) owns a best of 15:10 on the Woodward Park course in placing third in the 2021 Division IV State Meet. Meanwhile, West Ranch (SS) senior Bille Issa continues to move up the ranks in California, as evidenced by his 13:57.9 performance at Woodbridge.
Also watch for Sonora (SJ) sophomore Broen Holman is ready to improve upon the 15:35 that he ran on this course at the Division IV State Meet a year ago, establishing the seventh-fastest time run for a freshman in course history. Meanwhile, junior Carter Spradling of Clovis East (CS) was one of the top underclassmen at the Woodbridge Classic (14:07) several weeks ago.
Menlo (CC) sophomore Landon Pretre comes in with his 14:07 clocking from the Woodbridge Classic while older brother, Justin will look to keep pace. Finally, do not overlook Matthew Donis of Highland (SS) who finished just ahead of Pretre with a 14:05 effort at Woodbridge.
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RESULTS - FINISHED RESULTS
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7:15 a.m. - Division M Varsity Girls
7:40 a.m. - Division S Varsity Girls
8:05 a.m. - Division M Varsity Boys
8:25 a.m. - Division S Varsity Boys
8:40 a.m. - The Bill Buettner Championship Girls report to the starting line for introductions
8:55 a.m. - The Bill Buettner Championship Girls Race
9:15 a.m. - The Rob Brenner Championship Boys report to the starting line for introductions
9:30 a.m. - The Rob Brenner Championship Boys Race
9:50 a.m. - Division XL Varsity Girls
10:15 a.m. - Division L Varsity Girls
10:40 a.m. - Division XL Varsity Boys
11:00 a.m. - Division L Varsity Boys
11:20 a.m. - Division S and M Freshman/Sophomore Boys
11:40 a.m. - Division S, M, and Lg JV Boys (no championship schools)
12:00 p.m. - All Divisions Freshman/Sophomore Girls
12:25 p.m. - All Divisions JV Girls
12:55 p.m. - Division XL school and Championship school Junior Varsity Boys
1:20 p.m. - Division XL and Lg Freshman/Sophomore Boys
Mark Gardner is a teacher, in-demand announcer, former coach and a regular contributor to MileSplit.
Photos by DeAnna Tuner