Lots of variables in early-season cross country

Early-season cross country results can be deceiving in terms of team scores. Most teams are emphasizing mileage over speed early in the season, and many runners may be entering early-September meets tired. Also, some teams are shuffling their varsity lineups, and runners may be held out of races because of injuries.

Take, for example, the results of the Ed Sias Invitational on Saturday. College Park, the two-time defending California Interscholastic Federation Division II state girls champion, was third in the varsity girls race. But it was missing one of the area’s top runners, Nicole Pennes, who rolled her left ankle the day before the meet. Miramonte’s girls team finished out of the top 15 in the race, but all of its current top seven runner competed in the Iolani Invitational in Hawaii on Saturday, where it finished sixth. Campolindo, which won the Ed Sias team title with 132 points, ran one of its top runners, Laurie Finnegan, in the girls frosh-soph race,

Campolindo’s Chris Vizcaino, who finished eighth in the CIF Division III boys state championship race last year,  did not participate in the Ed Sias varsity boys small school race because of a hip flexor injury, yet the Cougars still finished third as a team in the race, which bodes well for them. Acalanes looks like the real deal with a second-place team finish in that race, and in the varsity boys large school race, De La Salle showed it has a tough front-running top-three runners in Tom Cox, Brendan Scanlon and Alex Harkins in winning the team title.