Three Takeaways From CIF SS Prelims

* Sadie Engelhardt en route to a first-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Prelims.

Photo credit: Raymond Tran / MileSplit


By Tomoki Chien / MileSplit California

It's hard to draw any definitive conclusions from the Southern Section preliminaries, where top athletes tend to conserve energy for section finals and the state meet.

Still, last weekend's races did bring some interesting storylines to light. Here are our top three takeaways.

Ventura girls could do something special

The Ventura girls have historically struggled to land big team titles to back up junior Sadie Engelhardt's dominant solo performances.

That could change this season.

The ASICS Clovis Invitational - where the Cougars placed second only to the seemingly untouchable JSerra Catholic - was the first indication that the team might be able to do something special this season.

They backed that up on Friday with a 1-2-3-5-17 finish in the first heat of the Division II competition, easily winning that race and perhaps portending a strong performance at the state meet later this month.

Jason Parra is back

Parra walked into this season as the man to beat. He was one of the fastest returning runners in the state, and all signs pointed to him winning the early season Woodbridge Cross Country Classic - and maybe even putting the national 3-mile record to bed in doing so.

But then he placed 50th at that race, a performance that he said sapped his confidence.

Since then, he's been slowly building back with respectable finishes at Clovis and the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invite. Then finally, on Saturday, Parra posted what could best be described as a statement performance, going 14:48.8 over 3 miles to win his heat and secure what was then the fastest race of the meet. (Cathedral's Emmanuel Perez ran close to 10 seconds faster later in the day.)

Perez's time aside, Parra's run sent a strong message: He's back. And he's after the state title.

Don't forget about Newbury Park

The Newbury Park boys entered this season as an unknown. The last of the Youngs and Sahlmans - the two families that transformed a backwater program into a national running powerhouse - just graduated high school.

A new coach, Kris Karsten, assumed the helm in June, succeeding Sean and Tanya Brosnan who had masterminded the team's previous dynasty. Could this team come anywhere close to a state title?

On Friday, the Panthers seemed to say: "Yes!"

They posted a 57-point team score to win heat three of the Division II competition, led by seniors Dev Doshi and Arnav Shetty. Don't count them out come the state meet.