Ready or not, the 2018 prep cross-country season gets underway this week with most area schools participating in the Oakmont Invitational slated for Saturday at Maidu Park in Roseville.
Foresthill will get the jump on area squads to open the season when the Wildfires compete today in the Kimball High Jaguar Classic being held at Eagal Lakes, located just outside Tracy.
Slated to run Saturday at the Oakmont event are Placer, Colfax, Bear River and Del Oro.
Placer, with about 50 total runners out, expects to be a contender in the new Foothill Valley League. However, the Hillmen can expect competition from Oakmont, which has nearly 100 runners, and Ponderosa. Both competed at the CIF Division II level last season.
Lincoln, with about 65 runners out, and Nevada Union will also be formidable.
In the Pioneer Valley League, Colfax and Bear River should both contend, but the Falcons and Bruins figure to be challenged by Center, Foothill and Marysville, all which look to be fielding full squads.
Here’s a capsule look at the area cross-country squads:
Placer – Kevin Vasquez succeeds longtime Placer coach Randall Fee, who stepped down after guiding the Hillmen boys and girls runners to CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV titles last season.
“I’m looking forward to a competitive season for our team,” said Vasquez. “As a varsity squad, we have some great talent returning, so expectations are high, especially on the boys’ side.”
Vasquez noted that the team has already set some season goals.
“We’re looking to be competitive in the new Foothill Valley League, but one of our other goals is to try and qualify the boys and girls teams for state,” said Vasquez.
The Hillmen boys should be formable again as they have three runners, Jesus Guerra-Reyes (2nd), Connor Ryan (4th) and Jesus Carrasco (7th), who placed in the Top 10 of last season’s D-IV section meet.
Devin Muzzy and Reed Hickman also have solid varsity experience for the Hillmen boys, who ran to a fourth-place finish in the CIF state meet at the D-IV level.
Placer’s girls lost their top two runners in Marin Chamberlain and Elana Muzzy to graduation. However, the Hillmen should still be a threat with Abagail Jones, Maddie Lasher and Riley Lasher back in the fold.
Vasquez noted that other runners to keep an eye on this season include Brendan Moley, Vance Byer, Andrew Davis, Wesley Moore and Nathan Reid for the boys, and Kate Riccardelli, Diana Diaz-Guerra, Katy Haydon and Chloe Moore for the girls.
Colfax – The Falcons qualified both their girls and boys teams to the CIF state meet a year ago after the girls captured the section D-V crown, and the boys were second. This season, however, Colfax moves back up into D-IV for postseason competition.
Colfax coach Shana White greeted 32 runners out for the teams this season, 19 for the boys and 13 for the girls.
For the Falcon boys, Connor Vrooman, Billy Groth and Trace Williams all return after finishing in the Top 15 of last season’s section race. Another veteran with varsity experience is Griffin LaBudde.
Up from Colfax’s section winning D-V sophomore squad are Austin Manceau, Ben Schwartz, Dagan Alcala and Noah Pierce.
Colfax’s girls return four runners who placed in the Top 30 of last season’s section meet. They include Sierra Hagen, Ellie Brost, Molly Bradshaw and Emma Sanders.
Foresthill – Wildfires coach Jeff Gallero welcomes back some key runners for the 2018 campaign. In 2017, the Foresthill girls placed sixth at the D-V section meet.
On the girls side, Megan Knudsvig and Elizabeth Bradley, who went 20th- and 21st place, respectively, in last year’s D-V section meet, should be runners to watch. Other top girls include Meredith Carpenter and freshmen Lili Watkins and Maykayla Spellman.
For the Foresthill boys, juniors Allen Seifert and Ben Worton will set the pace. Two incoming frosh runners to watch are Luis Giles and Clay Cantrell.
Bear River – The Bruins are a junior-based boys team with Sean Cullers, Brecken Vasquez and Matt Whiting expected to lead the way. For the girls, Bear River coach Skyler Mousley will be counting on juniors Grace Billingsley and Grace McDaniel and sophomore Elaina Wargoila.