Cross country league competition begins

After a month of running at invitationals and other meets, North Bay League and Sonoma County League  cross country teams open their respective league season Wednesday.

Piner is expected to challenge defending champion Maria Carrillo for the boys’ title, followed by Montgomery and Santa Rosa. All are ranked in the top five in their North Coast Section divisions.

Luis Luna, an All-Empire runner last season, is back to lead Piner. Daniel Hauptman, from Maria Carrillo, is another top runner. Alexi Taylor and Charlie King are a strong duo for Cardinal Newman.

On the girls’ side, Maria Carrillo remains the team to beat. The Pumas are ranked 10th in the state in Division 3. Santa Rosa and Montgomery also are expected to have strong teams.

Montgomery senior Julie Nacouzi, state runnerup in Division 2 last year, faces a challenge from Lauren Krause, a Maria Carrillo sophomore.

Wednesday’s meets: Montgomery and Cardinal Newman visiting Rancho Cotate; Santa Rosa and Maria Carrillo are at Piner; Elsie Allen goes to Ukiah. All meets start at 3:45 p.m.

In the Sonoma County League, Healdsburg entertains Analy, Casa Grande and El Molino. Petaluma and Sonoma go to Windsor. Both meets start at 4 p.m.