By JIM CROWHURST
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Cross country league championships begin Friday at Spring Lake with the North Bay League. The Sonoma County League follows Saturday, and the Coastal Mountain Conference runs Nov. 7.
Here’s what to look for in each of the races:
NORTH BAY LEAGUE
The Maria Carrillo boys will be going for their seventh league title in 10 years. The girls are favorites to claim the Pumas’ 10th consecutive NBL pennant, which is decided by points from both the championship meet and the tri-meets. Both teams completed their league seasons with 7-0 records.
Earlier this season, the Puma boys defeated Santa Rosa by one point. If the Panthers can turn the tables this time, they can earn a share of the NBL title. If anyone is going to challenge the Maria Carrillo girls, it will be newcomer Casa Grande, which went 6-1 in its first year in the NBL.
Casa Grande’s Ashley Moffett has the opportunity to be the first girl to win both an NBL and SCL cross country titles, having won the SCL and NCS division II championships in 2010. Moffett will need one of her better races, however, as Santa Rosa freshman Delaney White has been running extremely well. Moffett is the top-ranked division II runner in the NCS. Carrillo’s Andrea Natoli and Brynna Thigpen hold the next two spots, with Windsor’s Hannah Haley giving the NBL four of the top five ranked runners in division II. White is the No. 4-ranked runner in division I.
Ukiah’s Paul Holden won all four of his NBL meets and is the favorite to take Friday’s individual title. Holden is the boys’ top-ranked division II runner in the NCS and hopes to be the third runner to break 15:00 at Spring Lake. His only loss this year was by 5 seconds at the Stanford Invitational. His strongest challenge most likely will come from NCS No. 3-ranked Ryan Anderson of Maria Carrillo.
SONOMA COUNTY LEAGUE
The Piner boys look like they will be back to dominating the SCL on Saturday at Spring Lake. Piner won 14 league titles between 1966-1985. In the NBL, they had a long drought before winning titles the past two years. Back in the SCL this year, the Prospectors went undefeated behind the strong duo of Jaime Silva and Efren Reyes, two of the higher-ranked division IV runners in the NCS. Piner has the No. 1-ranked NCS division IV team. El Molino is at No. 5.
Petaluma’s Ryan Douglas won all four of his SCL meets and is the favorite for the individual title. The Trojans as a team went 5-1. Douglas is one of the higher-ranked division III runners in the NCS. Both Silva (NBL) and Douglas (SCL) placed second in last year’s league finals.
The Piner girls went 6-0 in league meets to gain the upper hand towards winning this year’s title. Piner won a very close Week 1 tri-meet (Piner 38, Analy 40, Sonoma 44), so the finals could also be up for grabs. Piner has won only three girls’ titles in its history, with the last one being back in 1981 when the school was in the SCL.
Piner’s Paloma Romero won all four of her SCL meets to take the favorite’s role for the individual title. Romero was 23rd in NBL finals last year. Romero beat Analy’s Molly Foster at Analy’s Ragle Ranch course back on Oct. 3 (17:15 to 17:25). Foster has since broken Romero’s record for that course with a 16:47 on Oct. 24. Analy has not had a league champion since Jennifer Franceschine in 1997.
COASTAL MOUNTAIN CONFERENCE
The CMC finals take place Wednesday at the Highland Springs Course in Lakeport.
Sonoma Academy has the No. 3-ranked NCS division V boys team and had all four of the fastest non-graduating seniors in last year’s CMC finals. Jax Reiff was its top runner last year, placing second in finals.
Mendocino’s Erin Thomas is back to defend her 2011 title, which was a bit of an upset last year. This year Thomas has been completely dominant in the CMC and won the Stanford Invitational Division V race. She is currently ranked fourth in NCS.
In team competition, the leaders look to be St. Helena and Sonoma Academy.
Friday, Nov. 2
NBL Championships at Spring Lake
Girls and boys junior varsity races at 2 and 2:30 p.m., girls varsity 3 p.m., boys varsity 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3
SCL Championships at Spring Lake
Junior varsity girls 10 a.m., junior varsity boys 10:40 a.m., varsity girls 11:15 a.m., varsity boys 11:45 a.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 7
CMC Championships at Highland Springs Course in Lakeport
Junior varsity boys 1 p.m., varsity girls 1:45 p.m., varsity boys 2:30 p.m.
Maria Carrillo 7-0
Santa Rosa 6-1
Casa Grande 5-2
Cardinal Newman 2-5
Rancho Cotate 0-7
Maria Carrillo 7-0
Casa Grande 6-1
Rancho Cotate 3-4
Santa Rosa 3-4
Cardinal Newman 1-6
El Molino 3-3
Elsie Allen 0-6
El Molino 1-5
Elsie Allen 0-6