Team Sweepstakes (A completely biased and under-educated look at Saturday's Big Race. No wagering please!)

This race looks loaded with this year’s talent.

Who is not racing: Notable teams that are not racing include Dana Hills, Madera South, Saugus, Clovis North and Arcadia. Individually there are a number of California elite runners who will match-up in the Individual Sweepstakes race and thus will not be facing off here. Primarily among these are Austin Tamagno of Brea Olinda, the state’s #1 Harrier, Phillip Rocha (Arcadia), Mason Coppi and Jacob Ogden (Dana Hills).

Individuals: Even though a number of top runners are in the Individual Sweeps race, there are a good number of quality boys who will challenge for the win. Robert Brandt of Loyola (D1 State #1) looks to be the favorite based on his stellar success so far this season. Spencer Dodds of Great Oak is the next highest ranked D1 runner (#4) but Andres Vizcarra of Beaumont (D1 State #5) was only 1 second behind at Clovis (15:21 vs 15:22). Canyon’s Wesley Walsh (State D2 #5) was only another second back at 15:23. However, the sleeper pick of the race may be Michael Teran of Jurupa Hills. He ran 14:50 at CIF-SS Finals last season and took the lead at Woodbridge with less than a mile to go. Teran will challenge Brandt and see who else is willing to go. I suspect both will be under 15:00 and possibly under 14:50!
Others to watch in the lead pack should include Lamberth (Canyon – 15:26 at Clovis), Siniscalchi (Westview – 15:14 at Mt. Carmel to Brandt’s 15:00) and Powell (Agoura – 15:36 at Clovis).

Team: Great Oak has had a clean slate this year and has not really been challenged by any team. Look for that trend to continue on Saturday. They did look vulnerable at Clovis but have the strength and depth to overcome an off day. If anyone can upset the Wolfpack look for Canyon (Anaheim) to challenge through 4 runners but depth is a problem for Canyon as their #5 runner is usually 30-45 seconds behind #4. Loyola has raced sparingly this season, as is normal for this program, but Coach Diaz usually has the boys really primed for big competition. The Cubs will probably have a 1 for their top scorer so it is their next 4 against everyone else’s 5 runners. The problem is that Loyola’s #2 is quite a bit further behind Brandt than normal for such a highly ranked team. If that gap can close up, look for a podium finish from them.
Agoura (#2 in D3) is stepping into the Saturday race and looks to be a major force for a podium finish. They were solid but not great at Clovis and will need to improve on that performance to bump out the top D1 and 2 teams.

Jurupa Hills has been far off the radar this season after their fine performance at Woodbridge but they do return 4 runners from the D3 State Championship team in 2013. They should have a very small number for their first scorer but it is their fifth that will be the real deciding factor. If #5 runner can step up with a huge performance then Jurupa Hills can knock off almost anyone to take a podium spot. A lot of questions with this squad but they have really performed when the lights have been brightest over the last few years.

Claremont had an outstanding race at Woodbridge but were not on the same level at Clovis even though they did have a solid performance. Was it the hills vs. a flat race course or perhaps just an off day? The hills of Mt. SAC will be the truth teller on that! If they can re-capture the flat-course speed and transfer it to the hills, Claremont will challenge for a top 5 spot.

Burroughs had a strong race at Mt. Carmel, with all 5 runners at or under 16:15, and bested ML King who could only manage 1 under 16:15. That would seemingly make their battle no contest, however, King ran a much better race at Clovis in putting all 5 scorers under 16:12. This performance is certainly on par with what Burroughs did down in San Diego and should make for a close battle between these programs for a top 8 finish.

Using conversions of -18 sec for Woodward Park and I don’t have a consistent conversion for Mt. Carmel so I will just make things up there (-12 sec)

Great Oak – 15:03, 15:24, 15:26, 15:27, 15:46
Canyon – 15:05, 15:08, 15:28, 15:39, 16:09
Jurupa Hills – 14:50, 15:26, 15:37, 15:39, 16:15 (Based on last year’s times)
Agoura – 15:18, 15:45, 16:04, 16:04, 16:06
Loyola – 14:48, 15:30, 15:42, 15:48, 16:02
King – 15:19, 15:42, 15:44, 15:49, 15:53
Burroughs – 15:28, 15:44, 15:49, 16:02, 16:03
Claremont – 15:18, 15:30, 15:42, 15:58, 16:02

My predictions:
1) Great Oak
2) Canyon
3) Jurupa Hills
4) Loyola
5) Agoura
6) Claremont
7) King

1) Brandt
2) Teran
3) Siniscalchi
4) Vizcarra
5) Foster

Let the criticism and debates begin in 3, 2, ...