Preseason "Awesome 18" Girls' Team Rankings: Preview and Introduction

Last year, we witnessed a historic performance as Marissa Williams torched a 16:33 to set another LA City record and lead her Palisades team to its 2nd Title in the last 3 years. For the first time since 2011 though, the race for Individual City Champ will be competitive and there will be a new winner. On the team side, San Pedro, Palisades, and Granada Hills have been dominant recently and that trend looks set to continue. Palisades and San Pedro are losing the cores of their teams through graduation, but both definitely have the capability of reloading quickly. Granada Hills on the other hand, who are led by the top returner and early favorite Natalie Realegeno, only lose one runner and are poised to pounce. The challengers include dark horses, Santee, as they return 6, and Bravo, who return their top 4 from last yearís 5th placed team. Meanwhile, Taft, who returns only 2 from their top 7, had strong developments from their underclassmen during Track, but can it translate to another podium finish? Birmingham and Marshall have firepower up front, but will it be enough for a podium finish? The rest of the field looks very even and a strong summer could go a long way in cementing a place at City Finals.

I will say honestly that ranking girls has been much more difficult than I thought compared to boys. First of all, because Iím not a girl, I donít know exactly what constitutes a good girlís time in cross country or how a track time correlates to a cross country time. Secondly, a common pattern Iíve noticed is that girls donít always follow the same natural progression as boys; meaning they donít always improve year to year and in some cases, they even regress. Because of this, I will only be looking at last seasonís PRs which I didnít do for the boysí team rankings. I also mentioned in my boysí introduction that Freshman can have an impact on these ratings. This is even more so the case for girlsí teams. Last year had a lower turnout with only 5 freshman girls at City Finals, but the 2013 edition had 14, while the average is around 8 from what Iíve seen. Since there isnít as much depth overall on the girlsí side compared to the boys as well, these rankings will only cover the top 18 D1 girls teams.

I will be using the exact same criteria to rank the girlsí teams as the boys of course relative to the City Section. In case you missed it or want to refresh your memory, Iíve copied and pasted it while also adding relative information to girls:

ďBased roughly on Prepcaltrack's yearly ranking criteria, each team will be ranked according to a couple of factors. The first of which are the number of returning varsity members from each school's top 7. The next factor is the "Strength Rating" which takes into account the quality of the top 3 projected runners for each team. These individuals will be evaluated on how well they can place and will be expected to put their teams in good positions to win meets. While the overall quality will be looked at, a single individual that can potentially finish in the top 10 for example, can drag their team's rating higher. Third is the "Depth Rating" which focuses on teams' projected 4-7 runners. These runners can make a huge difference and since the City Section doesn't have as much depth as other sections, their quality usually makes the difference between making it to City Finals or just missing out and likewise, a place on the podium or missing out on that as well. Lastly, the "Reserves Rating" analyzes not only the quality of runners each team has outside of their top 7, but also the quantity. These runners can fill in spots in the event of injury and push their top 7 to maintain their spots. However, this rating is not as important as the previous ones. I will also include a projected top 7 for each team based on PRs. Each of the three "ratings" will be based on a scale of 1-10 and will be relative to the City Section. A team with a "Strength Rating" of 10 in the City Section would not receive the same score if powerhouse Southern Section teams that can boast 5 girls sub 5:25 in the 1600 were includedĒ.

As with the boys, I want these rankings to become motivation as there is a good chance that I will underrate some individuals or teams. I am also encouraging you to correct me if I listed any information incorrectly, I overlooked somebody, somebody is not returning, or there is a Frosh girl capable of being in their teamís top 7. Since the school year is winding down, I will start churning out the girlsí rankings much quicker than I did with the boys. The first set covering teams 16-18 will be out tomorrow. Thanks for your patience everybody.

Also as a side note, if anyone has a better title suggestion than "Awesome 18" I would welcome it. "Awesome 18" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "Terrific 20" for me.

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