Montgomery sophomore Hanne Thomsen completed a spectacular season, defending titles at the NCS and CIF-State levels as she went undefeated in cross country for nearly 14 months until illness finally slowed her in early December at Team Nationals in Portland.
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Three North Coast Section Storylines
Albany: During the 2021 season, the Albany boys qualified for their first state meet by winning their first section title. They not only represented the section well at the state meet but won their first state team title to boot. They returned the majority of their team this past fall in coach Craig Stern's final season. At the NCS MOC meet, Albany won their 2nd section title and made their 2nd podium as they finished in 3rd place at the California State Meet.
PDX bound: Going into the season, the Granada boys and Campolindo girls returned strong teams that had big goals that included qualifying for Team Nationals in Portland. The Division II state team title was a tough task for Granada as one of the greatest high school teams (Newbury Park) of all time dropped down to Division II after steamrolling Division I the previous season.
Berkeley: Berkeley HS is one of the largest schools in the section. During the early 80s, Berkeley had one of the top Track and Field programs in California led by coach Willie White. Fast forward to the past decade and Berkeley has resided in Division I in Cross Country. This past season, a resurgent boy's team won the WACC championship meet. At the NCS MOC meet, Berkeley upset pre-meet favorites Dougherty Valley and Dublin to win their first section title since 1982!
Boys All-North Coast Section XC Team
Sean Morello (Albany/Sr) - Duke-bound Morello had a dream 2021 season as he led Albany to not only their first state berth but their first CIF-State title. In 2022, Morello continued to roll running the second fastest time on the Hayward HS course with his 14:28.4 at the Phil Wilder Invitational. He repeated as section champion and finished second at the State Meet with a new personal record on the Woodward Park course at 15:08.8.
Trey Caldwell (De La Salle/So) - As a freshman, Caldwell earned valuable experience racing on the DLS varsity team. During the spring, Caldwell posted personal best marks of 4:29.39 and 9:42.84. This past season, Caldwell was one of the most improved runners in the section as he raced to a close second place finish at the EBAL final. He finished in third place at the NCS MOC Division II race and made his first podium at the state meet with a 9th place finish. Caldwell qualified for the Champs Sports National final race at Balboa Park by finishing in 8th place in the West Region race.
Ethan Miller (Monte Vista/Sr) - Newbury Park moved back down to Division II which made the top end of the division super fast at the state meet. The NCS MOC Division II race was the most competitive race individually. Miller was also tested in the always tough EBAL. At the league final, Miller finished in third place and improved to second place at the NCS MOC race. He was an even more impressive 6th at the State Meet with a new personal best of 15:15.5.
Shane Badcock (Dougherty Valley/Sr) - During the spring Track and Field season, Badcock qualified for the California State Track and Field meet where he ran a new personal best of 1:54.91. During cross country, Badcock was one of the most improved distance runners in the section as he won the NCS MOC Division I race in a spirited dual with Berkeley junior Olaf Dietz. At the state meet, Badcock finished in 8th place in the rugged Division I final with a new Woodward Park best of 15:23.0.
Daegan Cutter (Redwood/Sr) - (pictured above) Cutter was the MCAL champion and repeated as the section champion in Division II. He also ran the fastest time of the day with a new personal best of 14:45.4. At the State Meet, Cutter just missed making the podium with an 11th place finish in the uber-fast Division II race.
Roland Ruckmann-Barnes (Granada/Sr) - The Granada boys had an outstanding team led by senior Roland Ruckmann-Barnes. He won the Campolindo Mid-Season Mania 3200m with a time of 9:16.43. He led his team at the NCS MOC meet finishing in 4th place. He also made the podium at the state meet with his 10th place finish.
Boys Team of the Year
Granada - In 2021, the Granada boys were leading the Division II State final with a mile to go and ultimately finished in second place. A super-motivated group of boys returned for the 2022 season aiming at a state title and potential Team Nationals qualifying spot. The return of the Newbury Park boys to Division II made a State title a tough task but Granada was undeterred. They stormed out of the gate with an impressive victory at the Lowell Invitational. They finished in fourth place at the Woodbridge Invitational behind nationally ranked Herriman, Crater and Southlake Carroll. They won the EBAL and section crowns and finished in second place at the California state meet qualifying for Team Nationals as one of the at-large teams.
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Three North Coast Section Storylines
PDX bound: The Campolindo girls had won six state titles in the history of the state meet and were strong favorites to win again this season. Aside from all their league, section, and team titles, the one missing accolade was qualifying for Team Nationals in Portland. The only girls' team to qualify for Team Nationals was the 2006 Carondelet girls. Now we have two teams as the Cougars won the Division III race and qualified to the Portland race as one of the at-large teams.
Section and State Meet juggernauts: The North Coast Section meet goes back to 1974 while the California state meet goes back to 1987. During that span, two girls' teams (University and Campolindo) have racked up an incredible amount of section and state titles. With both teams winning their respective section division race this past season, both teams have now won a hard-to-believe 19 section titles each. It doesn't end there as the Campolindo girls won their seventh CIF-State team title which now places them No. 4 on the all-time list alongside Corona Del Mar. At No. 3 is Great Oak with eight with No. 2 Saugus with nine. At the top of the list are the University girls who have won an incredible 11 CIF-State team titles.
Monte Vista: Dating back to 2015, the Granada girls had run roughshod over Division II claiming the last six possible section titles. This season, the Granada girls once again won the EBAL team title and came into the NCS MOC meet as slight favorites to win their seventh consecutive title. The Monte Vista girls finished in third place at the EBAL meet behind Granada and Dublin. At the NCS MOC, an inspired Monte Vista team without top runner and Georgetown-bound Sally Binder won their first section title since they won three straight in Division I from 2013 to 2015.
Girls All-North Coast Section XC Team
Hanne Thomsen (Montgomery/So) - Thomsen is halfway to matching former Montgomery HS runner Sarah Bei (now Hall) with four state individual titles. She has now won the past two Division III titles as well as the state tile in the 3200m last spring. This past fall, Thomsen posted an undefeated season through the state meet before a slight hiccup at the Team Nationals meet where she finished in 16th place.
Ellie Buckley (Campolindo/Sr) - Campolindo was one of the top teams in the nation and their undisputed #1 runner was senior Ellie Buckley. She led the team throughout the season winning her league and section races. She finished in 3rd place at the California state meet but saved her best race for the following week. At the uber-competitive Team Nationals, Buckley finished in 26th place with a 17:50.7 time on a cold blustery day in Portland.
Shea Volkmer (Campolindo/Jr) - While Buckley was the lead runner for the Campolindo Cougars, they were equally as impressive with Buckley's co-pilot, Shea Volkmer. She was typically at the front end of races with Buckley and won the Ed Sias Invitational. She finished in 3rd place at the NCS MOC meet and in 4th place at the California State meet.
Renae Searls (Alhambra/Jr) - (pictured above) Searls was tested at her league meets as Alhambra resides in the same league as the Campolindo girls. She finished in 3rd place at her league meet and won the NCS MOC Division IV race. At the state meet, Searls ran the 2nd fastest team of any NCS runners with her fourth place finish and 17:45.3 time.
Amelia Stacey (El Cerrito/Sr) - Stacey finished in fourth place at the NCS MOC Division III race behind Thomsen, Buckley and Volkmer. She finished in sixth place at the state meet with a time of 18:03.4. During the season, Stacey had top-four finishes at the Farmer, Crystal Springs, and Phil Wilder Invitationals.
Adeline Johnson (Branson/Sr) - Johnson was one of the top section runners on the track in the spring. She qualified to the California State Meet by winning the NCS MOC 800m and ran a personal best of 2:14.95 at the state prelims. This past fall, Johnson had a delayed start to her season due to an injury sustained over the summer. She returned to win the MCAL individual title as well as the NCS MOC Division V title. At the state meet, Johnson finished in 3rd place with a new personal best of 18:19.0.
Sienna Faidi (Convent & Stuart Hall/So) - Faidi came out of the gates fast with an impressive third place finish at the Lowell Invitational as well as victories at the Jim Tracy Challenge and Ram Invitational. She had to take some time off due to an injury but returned late season to finish in second place at the NCS MOC meet in a spirited dual with Adeline Johnson. Faidi reversed the result at the state meet as she finished in second place edging out Johnson at the line.
Girls Team of the Year
Campolindo - Over the two decades, the Campolindo girls have been the most dominant team in the section. Under the tutelage of Coach Chris Walsh, the Cougars won multiple section and a state title in 2001. Former College Park coach Chuck Woolridge took over the team in the fall of 2006. Since then, Woolridge has led the his girl's team to 13 section titles and 6 state team titles. This past season, the Campolindo girls were the fastest team in the nation in the Hoka Postal National Challenge with an 11:07 average for their top 5 girls. They won their league, section and state meet races and for the first time in school history, qualified for Team Nationals. Led by senior Ellie Buckley, the Cougars finished in 13th place and laid claim to being one of the top teams in the United States.
Photos by Jennifer Koziel, DeAnna Turner, Daniel Hernandez, and Eric Morford
Albert Caruana is a State Championship-winning coach and a regular contributor to MileSplit