STATE MEET PREVIEW What to Watch for in Division II

CIF-State Championships

at Woodward Park, Fresno (5,000 meters)
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Important Spectator Information

Tickets are available online only through CIF's ticketing partner, GoFan (

  • Every spectator must have a ticket to enter the park (No charge for children 4 and under)
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D-IV Girls8:30 AMD-V Girls10:00 AM
D-V Girls9:00 AMD-IV Boys10:20 AM
D-IV Boys9:30 AMD-V Girls10:40 AM
D-V Boys10:00 AMD-V Boys11:00 AM
D-I Girls10:30 AMD-I Girls11:20 AM
D-II Boys11:00 AMD-II Boys11:45 AM
D-III Girls11:30 AMD-III Girls12:15 PM
D-I Boys12:00 PMD-I Boys12:45 PM
D-II Girls12:30 PMD-II Girls1:15 PM
D-III Boys1:00 PMD-III Boys1:45 PM



D-II Meet Records

Team Score - Saugus (SS) 25 (2010)

Team Time - Saugus (SS) 89:25 (2010)

Individual - Sarah Baxter (Simi Valley/SS) 16:43 (2013)

2021 Champions: Dalia Frias (Mira Costa/SS) 16:52. Team: Mira Costa (SS) 86.

Top Individual Storyline

What kind of performance can be expected from Ventura sophomore Sadie Engelhardt at Woodward Park?

Individual Competition

Sickness and injury has been a major issue for so many high school runners this fall. Division II and California-leading three-mile runner Engelhardt wasn't immune. She suffered a bad cold that led to more ailments and forced her to miss races throughout October. She achieved a personal-best time of 15:42 at the flat and fast Great Park course in Irvine to win the Sept. 16 Woodbridge Cross Country Classic women's sweepstakes race.

After winning a Channel League XC 1 race Sept. 28, Engelhardt did not compete as scheduled in the Oct. 8 ASICS Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park due to her illness. She did not race again until the Nov. 4 Channel League final, winning the title at Oxnard's College Park in 16:36.88. She won both the CIF-Southern Section Division II Preliminaries heat (16:38.80) and CIF-SS Division II Final in 17:12.80 on the hilly Mt. San Antonio College course.

She will race at Woodward Park for the first time since her runner-up finish in the 2021 CIF-State Cross Country Championship, which was a 16:58.70, her 5000-meter PR. Prior to that, Engelhardt ran in the 2021 Clovis Invitational and finished second in 17:02.30.

Saturday's meet will be her first 5000 race this season.

Engelhardt will be joined by a solid group of individuals, many of whom, like her with Ventura, qualified along with their teams for Saturday's scheduled race. Additionally, there are 36 individuals from non-qualifying teams who will be competing.

Top Team Storyline

Will the battle for the State D-II team title come down to MileSplitCA's top two ranked State teams, Los Altos (CC) and Newbury Park (SS)? Will someone else step up?

Team Race

The No. 1 and 2 teams' schools are more than 350 miles apart. But this Saturday, Los Altos will drive the 160 miles and Newbury Park 245 to meet at Fresno's Woodward Park and compete against each other for the second time in seven weeks.

Los Altos won the featured girls championship race at the Oct. 8 ASICS Clovis Invitational with Newbury Park third. Division IV's JSerra Catholic (SS), was runner-up. 

Los Altos was led by senior Lauren Soobrian, 10th, 17:47.80 and her sophomore sister, Emily Soobrian, 17th, 17:59.20. Despite a mix of top teams across all CIF divisions, Los Altos' runners went 10th to 49th, for 93 points. JSerra scored 122 and Newbury Park was one point behind. Newbury Park was led by Ailish Hawkins' 11th-place finish in 17:48.30 and Tiffany Sax's 14th-place showing in 17:52.80.

Since that head-to-head meeting, both teams have taken care of their business to set up the return opportunity at Woodward Park. Lauren Soobrian and junior Jasleen Sidhu went 1-2 at league finals, Lauren Soobrian won the Central Coast Section individual title in 17:29 and the Eagles won the section title on Nov. 12. Joining Los Altos from its section are Palo Alto and St. Francis (CC).

Newbury Park, which moved to D-II this year from D-1, edged Oaks Christian for the Marmonte League title, 26-30, and won its Southern Section preliminary heat and division final in back-to-back weeks at Mt. SAC. Newbury Park won the division final ahead of Ventura and defending D-II State champion Mira Costa. All three teams, among seven Southern Section qualifiers, hope to make an impact at State.

The Central Section, which held its section final at Woodward Park on Nov. 17, is represented by CS champion Bakersfield Highland (CS), which features top runner Mia Torrecillas, the individual section champion.


D-II Meet Records

Team Score - Newbury Park (SS) 37 (2019)

Team Time - Newbury Park (SS) 75:27 (2019)

Individual - Nico Young (Newbury Park/SS) 14:29 (2019)

2021 Champions: Jai Dawson (Dana Hills/SS) 15:19.10. Team: San Luis Obispo (CS), 105.

Top Individual Storyline

Who will win his first individual State title: Leo Young or Lex Young of Newbury Park?

Individual Competition

The Stanford-bound Young brothers have won countless races, taken turns winning races, crossed the finish line first in tandem and always with a smile on their faces. But what is one title that has eluded them both since their 2019 debut? An individual State title. Older brother Nico Young won CIF-State Division II individual titles in 2018 and 2019. Covid-19 wiped out the 2020 race. And last year, in Division I, then-senior teammate Colin Sahlman, older brother of current Newbury Park senior Aaron, won the individual title.

Newbury Park is back in Division II this year, leaving open the possibility of seeing one of the brothers finish first. Will we see a double Young victory so they share a State individual title? Will they be fine with just being three-time State team champions in 2019, 2021 and, perhaps, 2022?

They like the Woodward Park course. They've been running it since freshman year. They last ran it Oct. 8 in the Clovis Invitational. Leo Young won in 14:25.90, followed by Lex at 14:31.70. In the 2021 CIF-State Championship Division I title race, Leo went 14:28 and Lex 14:30 to finish second and third, respectively.

And yes, if someone else steps up to win the Division II State individual title -- whether from another full team or one of the 35 runners who'll compete at State from a non-qualifying team -- who has the best chance?

Could it be junior Roland Ruckmann-Barnes of Granada (NC), the 2021 Division II runner-up? Ventura juniors Anthony Fasthorse and Micah Grossman ran sub-15s at the Nov. 19 CIF-SS Division II final at Mt. SAC in the same race with the Young brothers. Could Aaron Sahlman, who recently committed to join Colin at Northern Arizona, finish his high school career with a State title win instead of running behind the Youngs? 

Newbury Park's team is the favorite to win another State title, but first things first -- who will be first across the finish line?

Top Team Storyline

Can anyone challenge Newbury Park (SS), the nation's top high school boys cross country team, or is everyone else resigned to be racing for second?
Team Race
San Luis Obispo, the defending division champion is running at State again this year, but can't repeat in this division because they moved up to Division I. Newbury Park, after winning the team title in Division I, has returned to D-II and looks to add to its previous D-II title wins in 2018 and 2019. So what team might be due for a State title victory in this division? The familiarity of Newbury Park or maybe an upset pick? 

San Luis Obispo won the 2021 CIF-State championship in come-from-behind fashion. The team rallied from a woeful first mile in which it was in 13th place, to move up eight spots after the two-mile mark and win the team title.

Leading at both the first and second mile check, Granada was in control. Until they weren't. Granada, a North Coast Section member, lost to SLO by seven points. When SLO moved up to Division I, it meant the Matadors could not avenge the 2021 defeat. That was followed by news of Newbury Park returning to D-II. The tough competition will be present at State, no doubt, but who's to say that Granada can't win it all?

Anchored by junior Ruckmann-Barnes, he's flanked by Granada seniors Luther Hart (15:14.21 at NC section final in Hayward), Dheeraj Gurusamy (15:16.22), Liam Manley (15:28.18), and Farin Soriano (15:35.74) and two more juniors, Eshaan Singh and Erik Bromley, who round out the team. Granada finished third to Newbury Park in the Clovis Invitational championship race at Woodward Park, with Division I's San Clemente second. Granada is second in the latest MileSplitCA State Division II rankings, behind only Newbury Park. They are ahead of Ventura (SS), fellow North Coast Section member Redwood, and Mira Costa to name the top five.

On paper, the rankings say something. On Saturday, can Granada runners pull off the improbable and win their first State championship? Will another team rally to take the State title like SLO did last year? That's why they race!

Ryan Blystone is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by DeAnna Turner, Jeffrey Parenti, and Raymond Tran