Five teams and three individuals will compete in Saturday’s CIF Divisional finals over the famous 2.93 mile course at Mt.SAC. Or at least, probably. With rain in the forecast, there’s the possibility that if rains hard enough, the races will be moved to the 5000 meter Rain Course. This course, which finishes inside the stadium and is flat and mostly paved, was last used at the 2007 Footlocker Meet. You can view a map of the Rain Course here.
In ’09, Glendora won the Boys Div. II title in their first ever trip to the finals, while four individuals, including Lauren Justus (Glendora) and Marissa Scott (Bonita) advanced to the State meet. They’ve all qualified again and will be looking to advance once more – which requires a top seven team finish or to be among the up to five individuals from non-qualifying teams that finish in the top 20 of the race.
The day will kick off with the Div. III Boys at 7:45, with the SGV’s Damien and frosh Dillon Nobbs (Bonita) and senior Alan Callison (Northview). This is the first trip to the finals in a number of years for the Spartan and a great honor for the individuals. Callison probably had the best chance to advance, needing about 15 seconds’ improvement to advance. Damien will need about that much or more from each man to be in the hunt for one of the seven spots.
Next up for the SGV are the Div. III Girls at 8:25. Bonita comes into the race with the 9th best performance on time and has been consistently ranked just outside the seven qualifying spots all year. But the Bearcats have yet to run their best on the same day. They are strong up front with soph Marissa Scott, a likely individual qualifier even if the team falls short. It seems that frosh Mikayla Flores is recovered from an earlier injury, but their success will largely depend on who can come through as their 4th and 5th runners.
Webb did well to qualify for the Div. V Boys at 9:05, but senior leader Baily Stockdale has a good chance to advance with a strong performance.
The SGV has two teams in the Div. II Boys at 9:45. Both Claremont and Glendora enjoyed #1 rankings early in the year, and coming into the final, the Wolfpack look certain to advance to State, and have a strong shot at the podium (top 3) and even the Championship. They’ve fallen in the rankings not through slippling themselves but through the emergence of a number of other very strong teams in perhaps the strongest year ever for CIF XC. If the weather cooperates, there could be a team at or below to 79:00 that will fail to advance to State. Claremont will count on high finishes from seniors Paul Ross and Henry Falotico but the real key will be whether #5 man Jimmy Baeskins can improve on his 16:06 from Prelims.
The Tartans came out of the gate hot this year, but then suffered two season ending injuries and lingering illnesses with two others from their top 7 from September. They ran well to qualify, led by senior Anthony Castro, but will need to run better to return to Fresno. If they can find five strong performances they’ll move on and may even have shot at the podium if one of the top teams slip up.
The Claremont girls and Glendora’s Lauren Justus will go to the line in the final race of the day, the Div. II Girls at 10:45. Lauren was here last year, and ran well to advance. Her 17:53 PR from the Invite makes her a strong contender to move on to State, but this Division is unbelievably strong this year, so there are no guarantees. The Wolfpack, in a testament to their team depth, advanced despite a rough day at Prelims. It will require an extraordinary jump to make the top 7, but with only one senior in their team, they’ll gain valuable experience for next year.