California State Championships: Preview

(Historic Woodward Park, Ca.) -- The 22nd Annual CIF-State Cross Country Championships plays a continued role in determining the top programs in the State of California and Nation. For the second season in a row the CIF meet, the final state championship, has served as regional qualifier for the Nike Cross National Championships. 

Several top programs and individuals will compete for state supremacy. A few will headline NXN National Championships a week later. What is clear, the California Regional is the final opportunity for teams to impress the NXN Committee. It is safe to assume, this year, California will lead the way in at-large berths for the NXN National Championships.

Division I Boys

Favorite: James Cameron, Mission Viejo - Defending 2007 Individual Champion
Contenders: Tyler Valdes, Dana Hills; Zack Torres, Crescenta; Jonathan Sanchez, Buchanan
Darkhorse: Danny Vartanian, Buchanan

Team Favorite: Dana Hills, Dana Point (Coach Tim Butler)- Milesplit Ranked #3 Nationally, Dana Hills enters state meet on a high after a #2 all-time 76:41 Southern Section Finals victory. Led by individual title contender Tyler Valdes Dana Hills looks do avenge an early season loss at Woodward Park and earn a spot at Nike Cross Nationals. If all goes well Dana hills could challenge the 78 minute barrier over the heralded Woodward Park 5000m course.

Darkhorse Team: Buchanan, (Coach Martin Simpson) - Milesplit Ranked #18 Nationally, led by a deadly group of runners the Bear's recently set the 4th fastest team time in state course history with a blistering 78:10 Central Section Finals victory. Will give Dana Hills all they can handle as these two Cali juggernauts battle for State and National honors.

Division I Girls

Favorite: Alex Dunne, San Clemente
Contenders: Molly Grabill, Rancho Bernardo; Maria Malone, Folsom; Christine Adams, Esperanza
Darkhorse: Heather Balbier, Dana Hills

Team Favorite: Dana Hills, (Coach Tim Butler)-Milesplit Ranked #13 Nationally, Dana Hills comes into the state meet as the overwhelming favorite with the recent exit of Nat #1 Saugus to Div II. A blistering #3 all-time Mt. Sac 90:29 has set this team up to become an instant darling for the NXN Committee. It has been mentioned by a local legend that Dana Hills may be the #2 all-time team in California State history.

Dark Horse: Torrey Pines, (Coach Brent Thorne) - Harrier Ranked #21 Nationally, following the 4th fastest time in MT.Sac history (91:11) the Falcon's have burst onto the scene as a team with feiry guts and determination. NXN Cali Ranked #3 Torrey Pines is not only a cinderella to de-throne the Dana Hills inauguration but also the most likely NXN at-large berth team.

Division II Boys

Favorite: Elias Gedyon, Loyola Los Angelos
Contenders: Matt McElroy, Edison; Cody Schmidt, Redondo Union; Garrett Rowe, Mountain View
Darkhorse: Wyatt Landrum, Liberty

Team Favorite: Thousand Oaks, (Coach Shawn Morris)- Milesplit Ranked #13 Nationally, Looking more and more like the team from 93' the 2008 squad smashed the Division II course record at Mt.Sac early this season with a top ten overall 77:36. Look for the Lancers to make a statement against tough rivals Loyola and Mountain View and earn a much desired NXN Berth.

Division II Girls

Favorite: Jacque Taylor, Casa Grande - 2007 State Runner-up
Contenders: Kaylin Mahoney, Saugus; Anne Randall, Saugus; Amber Murakami, Saugus
Darkhorse: Hillary Hayes, Edison; Elizabeth Apgar, Lincoln

Team Favorite: Saugus, (Coach Rene Paragaus) - Milesplit Ranked #1 Nationally, was there any question that the defending state champion Centurians are simply one of the best teams the U.S. has seen in the past 10 years? After a mind-boggling 88:18 total team time at Mt. Sac the super-team is poised to shatter the state meet record. Barring some unforseen dilemma the Saugus girls are all but guaranteed an NXN berth. A showdown of last years 1-2 finish with Manlius is imminent as the Centurians seek to avenge their 2007 NTN defeat.

Division III Boys

Favorite: Chris Schwartz, Foothill
Contenders: Isaac Chavez, Barstow; Nohe Lema, Willow Glen; Mac Fleet, University City
Darkhorse: Robert Pulford, Campolindo

Team Favorite: Barstow, (Coach Jim Duarte)- NXN Cal #9, Eyeing a 4th consecutive state championship the Aztec's are a darkhorse in the bid for an NXN berth. What is clear is that this team is a legitimate contender to be the cinderella of the state meet...and perhaps Nike Cross Nationals.

Division III Girls

Favorite: Katy Daly, St. Ignatius - Defending State Champion
Contenders: Melissa Skiba, Oak Park; Sammy Silva, Our Lady Peace; Hannah Valenzuela, Apple Valley
Dark Horse: Jennifer Bergman, Valley Christian

Team Favorite: Corona Del Mar, (Coach Bill Sumner) - A divisional team seeking its 6th state championship the Sea Kings attempt to cap off another successful season against a tough divisional rival Lutheran. Look for the scoring to be close with a possible upset in the making.

Division IV Boys

Favorite: Tyre Johnson, Palma - 2007 State Runner-up
Contenders: Brennan Lynch, Santa Cruz; Charlie Petrie, Oaks Christian; Austin Williams, La Salle
Dark Horse: Zach Oliver, Ontario Christian

Team Favorite: Big Bear, (Coach Mickey Hall), Defending State Champions will seek to add another trophy to the mantle. The Bears will have their hands full as a determined McFarland seeks to improve upon a 3rd place state showing from a year ago with some gold of their own.

Division IV Girls

Favorite: Michelle Johnson, West Valley
Contenders: Sabrina Lopez, Sacred Heart of Jesus; Samantha Hamilton, Half Moon Bay; Catherine Hasbrouck, Nordhoff
Darkhorse: Rachel Brajkovich, La Reina

Team Favorite: La Reina, (Coach Robert Lopez)- The Regents from Thousand Oaks will seek to upend 2007 #2 St. Mary's for the state title. Darkhorse individual favorite Rachel Brajkovich leads her teams hopes but will be strongly challenged by a tight nit St. Mary's team that returned their top 6 from 2007. Look for single digit seperation between these two division rivals.

Division V Boys

Favorite: Jake Jeanson, Woodcrest Christian - 2007 Runner-up
Contenders: Myles Scarano, Woodcrest Christian; Jesse Brooks, Woodcrest Christian; Steven Ingelhart, Branson
Darkhorse: Josh McDonald, Redwood Christian

Team Favorite: Woodcrest Christian, (Coach Billy York) - Look for the Royals to add yet another state championship to the trophy case, this year should be no contest as a trio of amazing frontmen compete for the individual crown. Jake Jeanson has been dominant all year as he leads this team to state championship glory.

Division V Girls

Favorite: Jordan Hasay, Mission College Prep - Defending State Champion
Contenders: Annie Mooney, Mission College Prep - 2007 Runner-up
Darkhorse: Breean Collier, Woodcrest Christian

Team Favorite: Woodcrest Christian, (Coach Billy York) - Finished 2nd in 2007 the Royals returned all 7 for 2008. With a recent upset by 2007 #3 Chadwick a few weeks ago the Royals look to upstage Coach George Ramos upstart team from Palos Verdes Penninsula at the grand daddy of them all. We predict a close finish with the Royals avenging their defeat.