The Dos Pueblos boys cross country team will open the season as the No. 1-ranked team in CIF Division 2.
The Chargers are led by senior tri-captains Bryan Fernandez, Max Davis and Ben York. They have logged hundreds of miles in varsity cross country races in their careers, including the CIF-Southern Section Finals and the State Meet.
“This Dos Pueblos team is the most talented high school cross country team I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” said longtime coach Len Miller, who added that he’s not surprised by the ranking, which is done by Rich Gonzalez of ESPN High School/DyeStateCal.
Miller’s three captains have outstanding credentials.
“Bryan is one of the top returning runners in the state,” the coach said. “Max just finished second in the Junior Olympic National championship meet at 3000 meters. Ben York is also the captain of the baseball team and has started since he was a 9th grader. He is one of the best competitors and has the mind of a mature professional athlete.”
Rounding out the top 10 are Cole Smith, Andrew McGuan, John Greening, John Linehan, Chris Wasjutin, Ian Wasjutin and Tyler Bradford.
Head cross country coach Leslie Wiggins Roth believes this is the first time in school history that Dos Pueblos has been ranked No. 1.
“It is great to be recognized,” she said. “Coach Miller has put a lot of time and effort into the boys, but we also don’t want to put the cart before the horse. There is much to be done before we even get close to the end.”
Following the Chargers in Division 2 are Loyola, Redondo Union, Westlake, Beaumont, Ayala, Glendora, Arroyo Grande, Hart and Camarillo.
Asked if the boys felt any pressure about being No. 1, Wiggins Roth replied, “No, they are taking it in stride (pun intended). They are a very focused and confident group this season. We have had a few setbacks with some minor injuries so far but I really think it is going to make them stronger and more determined in the long run.”
Miller noted the boys team is also receiving coaching assistance from Gordon McClenathan (a DP coaching legend in cross country and track) and Micks Purnell.
“Gordon hasn’t missed a day of practice in three years and Micks is a knowledgable and talented coach as well,” said Miller. “The team could not have evolved without our program’s head coach Leslie Wiggins Roth giving us the latitude and support she has consistently shown.”
On the girls side, Addi Zerrenner returns for her junior season. She qualified for the State Meet in cross country and track last season.
“Addi looks to be stronger and more fit than I have ever seen her,” Wiggins Roth said. “Her experiences last season in cross country and track and field left her with a maturity and global perspective that is rarely seen in a high school athlete. She was an easy choice as one of our captains this season.”
Wiggins Roth also cited sophomore Elaine McClure, who came on strong at the end of the cross country season last year. “She is faster and stronger than last season.”
DP picked up some key members of the track team “who will remain as ‘secret weapons’ for now,” Wiggins Roth said.
She’s excited about senior captain Haley Peterson, who also is a star softball player. “Honestly, she scares me,” said the coach.
To prepare for the season, the Chargers did training runs in the front-county trails and took a trip to Mammoth Mountain to train at altitude.
The Chargers’ first meet is Saturday at the UCSB Gaucho Invitational.