CIF-State Boys Divisional Team Rankings

Rankings by Rich Gonzalez, ESPNHS/DyeStatCal Editor
Rankings released on Tuesday morning, November 22nd

An Overview Of How We Got Here: Defending national champion Arcadia entered the season as a slight favorite over Rancho Cucamonga and 12 weeks later, that order still holds up. Arcadia sparkled in the early season at Woodbridge and also won across state lines at the Bob Firman Invitational in Idaho, but occasional roster absences and a bit of personnel inconsistency led to an unsurprising loss at Mt. SAC but a surprising setback at its own invitational. Rancho Cucamonga started slowly and showed well despite one very key roster absence at Bob Firman. Impressive victories at the Inland Empire Challenge and Mt. SAC has kept RC on course for state hardware. Great Oak's breakthrough came during a bittersweet showing at Mt. SAC. Despite it top two runners having clearly rough outings, nearly everyone stepped up big time, revealing impressive upside should everyone click. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but the Wolfpack came pretty close during a third-place finish at Southern Sectionals. Trabuco Hills has been a late-season enigma after great showings in mid-October at the Clovis Invitational on the state meet course followed by another title trek at the Orange County Championships, Stockdale came out breathing fire with a strong showing at Woodbridge and dominated local competitions in the early going, and had fallen back only slightly against top Southern Section competition when on championship courses; has also been very consistent. Rivals El Toro and Dana Hills have traded outcomes, with ET prevailing more often than not. Both have closed the gap on the upper echelon teams and command respect come November. Bellarmine was the CCS favorite entering the year, but a mid-October episode of sinus infections weakened the roster while Carlmont was quickly improving and moving in successfully capture the CCS title. Buchanan has been puzzling, with injury and illness spelling problems early on, but a talented roster struggling of late despite being at full strength. If Arcadia matches its performance level from the Section Finals, they will be tough to catch. Although Rancho Cucamonga lacks superb depth, its has been improving -- but can ill afford off days. Will Great Oak finally click? Will Trabuco Hills clock again? Will Stockdale's consistency pay off? Stay tuned. 
The Rankings:
1. Arcadia (SS)
2. Rancho Cucamonga (SS)
3. Great Oak, Temecula (SS)
4. Trabuco Hills, Mission Viejo (SS)
5. Stockdale, Bakersfield (CE)
6. El Toro, Lake Forest (SS)
7. Dana Hills, Dana Point (SS)
8. Carlmont, Belmont (CC)
9. Bellarmine, San Jose (CC)
10. Buchanan, Clovis (CE)

An Overview of How We Got Here: We initially thought Loyola was going to run away with the title before the season even began, but then Golden Valley moved into the division (up from Division III) and all bets were off. Barring anything unforeseen, this is a two-team battle for the title. Golden Valley's great 1-2 punch AND solid depth make them the winning pick, but Loyola remains in striking distance if their own 1-2 punch of Charlie Marquardt and Jared Jones can assert themselves. La Costa Canyon is a very fine squad with among the nation's best in Darren Fahy up front, but the sizable gap to their 4-5 scorers is clear indication of an Achilles' heel that still eludes many prognosticators. To their benefit, however, no real powerhouse looms outside the top two, so look for the lethal Mavericks to battle rival Ramona -- and we expect a nice peak from them -- and Central Section winner Madera South for state meet hardware. Del Campo has an excellent 1-2-3 punch and improving depth at the hands of coaching legend Bob King. Of the Southern Section chase pack, Hart has been the most inconsistent but has ironically also put up the most quality efforts.
The Rankings:
1. Golden Valley, Santa Clarita (SS)
2. Loyola, Los Angeles (SS)
3. La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad (SD)
4. Ramona (SD)
5. Madera South, Madera (CE)
6. Del Campo, Fair Oaks (SJ)
7. Hart, Newhall (SS)
8. Ayala, Chino Hills (SS)
9. Mt. Carmel, San Diego (SD)
10. San Ramon Valley, Danville (NC)

An Overview of How We Got Here: Entering the season, Palos Verdes loomed as the heavy favorite over a solid Campolindo lineup, a young squad from St. John Bosco and nice lineups from West Torrance and Brea Olinda. Thus far, PV remains the team to beat but whether anyone has a chance to reel in the Sea Kings depends upon which PV squad shows up. At the Nike South Invitational in Invitational, Palos Verdes ran well while facing arguably the nation's top program at the time in Southlake Carroll. Repeated solid showings in the state's deepest boys league (Bay) revealed added good karma, but the lineup missed a beat during its Southern Section Finals win as depth emerged as a question mark although its #3 has improved notably. St. John Bosco holds a slight scoring edge at 1-2 over PV and can occasionally match its 4-5 depth thanks to the addition of an early-season transfer, but the Sea Kings hold a clear edge at #3 for now. Campolindo is the dangerous threat hiding in the weeds, with a solid victory at the NCS Finals over Piner (a squad which matched them at the Roughrider Invitational, primarily because a lack of quality teams in the race prevented Campo's edge in depth from becoming apparent) and frontrunner Thomas Joyce upsetting title favorite Luis Luna. Piner is solid up front, but needs to have all hands on deck to close the deal. West Torrance was a nice surprise at the Southern Section Finals as the last-place team in the Bay League came through to place third in the section! Cathedral, which knocked off several top squads during the season, was slightly off at the section finals and the pressure will be on to revert to prior form. Miramonte, a program with fine tradition, has a strong lead attack.   
The Rankings:
1. Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates (SS)
2. St. John Bosco, Bellflower (SS)
3. Campolindo, Moraga (NC)
4. Piner, Santa Rosa (NC)
5. West Torrance, Torrance (SS)
6. Brea Olinda, Brea (SS)
7. Cathedral, Los Angeles (SS)
8. Miramonte, Orinda (NC)
9. Damien, La Verne (SS)
10. San Luis Obispo (SS)

An Overview of How We Got Here: Don Bosco entered the season as the favorite for the crown and with a coach who doesn't get too vested in early-season outcomes. Salesian and San Lorenzo Valley each figured to be teams with a boulders -- not chips -- on their shoulders after missing their respective 2010 section finals with great lineups. Yreka would be looking to make a major statement. So far, it's all coming together as expected. Salesian came out from hiding and threw down a masterful performance at the Southern Section Finals in roaring to the title and harkening memories to the heydays of Mustangs cross-country a few decades back. The group is fit, focused and ready. As is Don Bosco, which has won two of these dances before (1997 and 1999) and knows how to win. This should be a great duel. That said, San Lorenzo Valley is looking to go from the outhouse (a state meet non-qualifier) in 2010 to the penthouse (the winner's circle) in 2011. While Bosco has the experience, the other two have bitter memories, which promises to make this one a war. Yreka has been the class of the Northern Section, which has ALL of it divisions combine into one race at the section finals. That's were Yreka prevailed, with a fine 1-2 punch leading the way. Crespi is the best of the rest, a group which has improved nicely from a year ago.
The Rankings:
1. Salesian, Los Angeles (SS)
2. Don Bosco, Rosemead (SS)
3. San Lorenzo Valley, Felton (CC)
4. Yreka (NO)
5. Crespi, Encino (SS)
6. Big Bear, Big Bear Lake (SS)
7. Carmel (CC)
8. St. Mary's College, Berkeley (NC)
9. Nordhoff, Ojai (SS)
10. JSerra, San Juan Capistrano (SS)

An Overview of How We Got Here: This figured to be a march into history. Thus far, it's been more like a sprint. St. Margaret's of San Juan Capistrano has met every stiff challenge of 2011 with impressive results -- including a top 12 finish at the loaded Woodbridge meet and a top five finish at the Orange County Championships -- en route to records for Division V proficiency. They've wanted to become the best Division V team in state history and so far have done everything to prove it. The only thing that remains now is another Division V title while breaking the state meet team-time record ((81:46) in the process. Look for that to happen this weekend. Two teams are expected to battle for the runner-up plaque, with #2-ranked St. Joseph's Notre Dame of the North Coast Section and Desert Christian of Lancaster locking up. SJND has seemingly been playing possum for much of the season but came out of hibernation to win the NCS crown last week. Desert Christian at one point began to apply pressure on St. Margaret's, but SM kept improving and then DC hit an injury issue which left is shorthanded last weekend. From there, Chadwick really came on to surprise Prep League rival Flintridge Prep for the runner-up plaque at the Southern Section meet. One very important item of note: After the three aforementioned three teams, all other ranked squads project pretty close together. In fact, tenth-ranked Crystal Springs Uplands packs very nicely together and getting that amoeba to improve its position by about 12 seconds could reap massive rewards.  
The Rankings:
1. St. Margaret's, San Juan Capistrano (SS)
2. St. Joseph Notre Dame, Alameda (NC)
3. Chadwick, Palos Verdes Peninsula (SS)
4. Flintridge Prep, La Canada Flintridge (SS)
5. San Francisco University, San Francisco (NC)
6. Xavier College Prep, Palm Desert (SS)
7. Sage Hill, Newport Beach (SS)
8. Desert Christian, Lancaster (SS)
9. St. Joseph, Santa Maria (SS)
10. Crystal Springs Uplands, Hillsborough (CC)

CIF-State Divisional Girls Team Rankings

By Rich Gonzalez, ESPNHS/DyeStatCal Editor
Released to the CIF-State Office on Tuesday morning, November 22nd

An Overview Of How We Got Here: By midsummer, it appeared this would be a two-team battle for the title between Great Oak and Dana Hills, with it being a virtual a tossup between the two. When a key runner opted to leave the Great Oak team, we were unsure as to the true long-term effects as the program always establishes great death and could probably cover the loss before too long. We were a bit surprised as to the dropoff in the division after the top two (partly because Simi Valley, La Costa Canyon and Tesoro were moving down to Division II), but it wasn't too long once the season started before teams began asserting themselves. South Coast League rivals Trabuco Hills and San Clemente were razor close in their outcomes, while Vista Murrieta came on well while approaching postseason. St. Francis of Sacramento's season outlook benefited from the addition of two leading frosh while Marina's program enjoyed a mindset turnaround  in posting a great summer training regimen. While Great Oak reloaded in the early season, Dana Hills unraveled, with personnel issues leading to problems and setbacks. They remained in the rankings for a while, despite subpar showings. After Clovis, when the team finished well down the list, its head coach reported said with confidence, "Now he has to take us out of the rankings." Out of the rankings they fell, only to begin their expected turnaround the following week, a slow but careful climb toward the top. Dana Hills enters the stretch drive with dangerous upside after placing just six points behind San Clemente at the Southern Section Finals. If either Great Oak or Vista Murrieta (its #2 did not finish at the SS Finals) correct their limited shortcomings of last week, then it becomes a four-team battle. Beyond that, several other top programs remain within striking distance of the podium, including North Coast Section champion Granada, which won the Clovis Invitational, and young but usually-sharp-in-postseason St. Francis.
The Rankings:
1. San Clemente (SS)
2. Dana Hills, Dana Point (SS)
3. Great Oak, Temecula (SS)
4. Vista Murrieta, Murrieta (SS)
5. St. Francis, Sacramento (SJ)
6. Marina, Huntington Beach (SS)
7. Granada Livermore (NC)
8. Crescenta Valley, La Crescenta (SS)
9. Ventura (SS)
10. Arcadia (SS)/Amador Valley, Pleasanton (NC)


An Overview Of How We Got Here: Simi Valley has been the top-ranked squad from the get-go, but its limited advantage over its nearest rivals has been sliced more than in half over the last month. Now, the top three teams project to within a dozen points of each other in the battle for supremacy in the nation's toughest division, with likely berths to Nike Cross Nationals up for grabs. Simi Valley gets the ball rolling with perhaps the nation's top runner in Sarah Baxter, but a pair of senior all-state candidates stake the Pioneers with a a lethal front-end presence. La Costa Canyon has really fortified itself since last year, with a key transfer (who previously attended the school) and another's solid improvement giving the team a very solid quintet. Saugus is very strong and not quite as inexperienced as some might believe. They've had the luxury of pointing for the very end of the season and have prepared masterfully throughout, led by one of the best talents in Karis Frankian, not to mention coached by Rene Paragas, who seeks a SIXTH consecutive state title. This one's going to be good! Don't forget about Redondo Union. Their track times and fitness point toward performance levels approaching the top three and will be challenged to pull off the perfect race in order to pull off an upset. Woodbridge could be a sleeper here, never beating the top four but occasionally having the penchant for pulling off a postseason stunner.  Westview has been laying low for much of the season but revealed its best showing to date at the section meet, keeping in line with the strong talent and experience returning from last year. Thousand Oaks pulled off a stunning performance at the Marmonte League Finals and a repeat performance of that outing leaves the Lancers within reach of the podium should any of the Big Three falter.
The Rankings:
1. Simi Valley (SS)
2. La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad (SD)
3. Saugus, Santa Clarita (SS)
4. Redondo Union, Redondo Beach (SS)
5. Woodbridge, Irvine (SS)
6. Westview, San Diego (SD)
7. Thousand Oaks (SS)
8. Tesoro, Las Flores (SS)
9. Clovis North, Clovis (CE)
10. Colony, Ontario (SS)

An Overview Of How We Got Here: It is very rare that the top-ranked team in the final poll is a squad that hasn't topped the rankings a single time all season long, but that's the case here. Palos Verdes and Campolindo each boast the talent to win the crown as well, with Campolindo probably best suited to carry out the task if it repeats its best outings this fall. Vista Del Lago is a different team now, with a fabulous 1-2 punch (thanks to the recent lineup addition of Clare Carroll, the 2010 State Division I runner-up while at Granite Bay, from injury), a very strong 3 and an improving 4 and 5. Palos Verdes didn't quite have its usual snap at last weekend's Southern Section Finals although team leader Rebecca Mehra sure looked in postseason form. Each of those three teams has a similar makeup: one or two strong frontrunners, a solid third, then a decreasing gap to 4 and 5. It'll be like a chess match out there! Cathedral Catholic and Aptos are two carefully handled squads aiming to put the perfect pieces together at state, while Acalanes and a swift-rising Granite Hills squad are applying clear pressure as well. Of the Southern Section's 70 team qualifiers to state across all division, Granite Hills was the one that exceeded our projections the most.
The Rankings
1. Vista Del Lago, Folsom (SJ)
2. Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates (SS)
3. Campolindo, Moraga (NC)
4. Cathedral Catholic, San Diego (SD)
5. Aptos (CC)
6. Acalanes, Lafayette (NC)
7. Granite Hills, Apple Valley (SS)
8. San Luis Obispo (SS)
9. Santa Margarita, Rancho Santa Margarita (SS)
10. Corona del Mar, Newport Beach (SS)

An Overview Of How We Got Here: This should be a two-team battle and a rematch of the Mt. SAC Invitational showdown, where JSerra handily prevailed over San Lorenzo Valley. JSerra is the defending state champion but SLV is a focused team on a clear mission. Mayfield has been a classic case of teamwork and a great coaching job as no frontrunners line the roster but everyone shows up with their hardhats on during race day and puts in an honest day's work. Harvard-Westlake might not have the depth to challenge for the title, but frontrunners Cami Chapus -- the title favorite -- and Amy Weissenbach will go a long way toward the Wolverines trying to make the podium as a squad. La Reina, which has had a few bumps along the way, has ample upside if all are healthy.
The Rankings
1. JSerra, San Juan Capistrano (SS)
2. San Lorenzo Valley, Felton (CC)
3. Mayfield, Pasadena (SS)
4. Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood (SS)
5. El Segundo (SS)
6. Laguna Beach (SS)
7. Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, La Canada Flintridge (SS)
8. La Reina, Thousand Oaks (SS)
9. Coronado (SD)
10. Bret Harte, Altaville (SJ)

An Overview Of How We Got Here: Try as they all might, no squads have been able to reel in top-ranked San Francisco University and the time to do so is quickly running out. The defending champions remain the team to beat, although Southern Section programs Xavier College Prep and Thacher have battled each other to the point that their competitive clashes have drawn both closer to the top. Five of the division's ranked squads hail from the North Coast Section, with four from the Southern Section. In the end, look for San Francisco University to notch a record ninth state girls championship.
The Rankings
1. San Francisco University, San Francisco (NC)
2. Xavier College Prep, Palm Desert (SS)
3. Thacher, Ojai (SS)
4. The Urban School, San Francisco (NC)
5. College Prep, Oakland (NC)
6. Lick-Wilmerding, San Francisco (NC)
7. Branson, Ross (NC)
8. Pasadena Poly, Pasadena (SS)
9. Crystal Springs Uplands, Hillsborough (CC)
10. Chadwick, Palos Verdes Peninsula (SS)