Boys Regional Rankings – 9/21/2023
By Doug Binder, DyeStat Editor
Every team must face a downturn sometime, right?
Great Oak has been flying high for a decade in California, and nationally, and the boys team won the CIF Division 1 title last year and placed sixth at Nike Cross Nationals with five seniors in the lineup.
Those graduation losses aren’t easily overcome.
But Great Oak isn’t going anywhere, not after a third-place finish in the Doug Speck Boys Sweepstakes race last Saturday at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic.
The Wolfpack ran faster at 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 than it did in 2022 at Woodbridge and as a result moves off the watchlist and straight to No. 1 in California.
Junior Westin Brown, the third man on Great Oak’s JV at the Southwestern League finals last year, has made a big leap. He was 11th last Saturday in 14:09.4, two seconds ahead of teammate Gabriel Rodriguez. There was a 37-second gap between Great Oak’s second and third runners, but the team answered the questions about its depth.
Another big reveal was Beckman of Irvine stepping up to place sixth and finish ahead of Trabuco Hills and Dana Hills. Senior Ibzan Felix, who ran 15:49.3 for 118th place last year, delivered 14:17.5 and 22nd place last Saturday.
This is a big weekend in the Heartland region, where Stevens Point of Wisconsin and Wayzata of Minnesota will square off for the first time at the Roy Griak Invitational. Trinity Academy of Wichita, Kan. remains the No. 3 team in the region but has not run its top lineup yet. The Knights might do that this weekend at Griak.
Sophomore Jaden Merrick and senior Ahmed Aldamak went 1-2 for Cedar Falls at the Linn-Mar Invitational on Sept. 2 and beat Iowa power Dowling Catholic at the Marshalltown Bobcat Invitational on Sept. 7.
Downers Grove North IL justified its preseason No. 1 ranking in the Midwest with its performance at the First To The Finish Invitational, averaging 14:45 for its scorers on Sept. 9 at Detweiller Park. A week later, Arlington Heights (Hersey) was the top team at the Richard Spring Invitational.
Brighton MI won a tiebreaker over Northville to win the MSU Spartan Invitational and it also lifted the Bulldogs into the Midwest top five.
Belen Jesuit FL, led by Joshua Ruiz and super frosh Marcelo Mantecon, won the Southern Showcase with a performance that confirmed the Southeast No. 1 team’s status. Jesuit of New Orleans, the South region No. 2, finished second and Farragut TN, the Southeast No….