By Michael Bower
The Del Norte High boys cross country team has been ranked as high as third in the state in Division III this year. And now is the Nighthawks’ chance to prove they belong there.
Del Norte is the favorite to capture its first Division III crown in school history at the CIF San Diego Section Cross Country Championships, which begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with the girls Division I race at Morley Field.
The Nighthawks are currently ranked No. 1 in Division III in the San Diego Section and No. 7 in the state by Prepcaltrack.com. Del Norte only needs to finish in the top three to qualify for the state meet for the first time since 2010, but the Nighthawks have bigger goals on their mind.
“We didn’t run very well on Saturday (at the Valley League championships),” Del Norte coach Chris Jacobs said. “The boys were not happy about how they raced and some of them were disappointed in their performances. I think coming off of that, they have a little hunger to get after it this week.”
Part of the reason the Valley League champion Nighthawks did not turn in their best performance last weekend was due to health and injury issues. Eric Inumerable, who is one of Del Norte’s top runners, has been dealing with a hip injury for some time now. The senior finished in an uncharacteristic 17 minutes, 18 seconds and in 19th place.
“We are just going to have to fight through that,” Jacobs said. “We are pretty healthy after that, but not having him where he needs to be will hurt us on Saturday, if he isn’t better.”
Junior Mitch Manis and senior Mark Quiroz have also been strong for the Nighthawks this season. Either one along with Inumerable could challenge for the Division III individual title.
“This is the best team I have coached and I think the best team the school has ever had,” Jacobs said. “The seniors on this team were the ones that went to state as freshmen and they are hungry to go back.”
The Poway and Rancho Bernardo boys teams will compete in the Division II race, which is scheduled to start at 10:10 a.m.
The Titans were led by senior Jack Chintala’s 15th-place finish at the Palomar League championships last week, while the Broncos were led by junior Wyatt Hill’s 25th-place finish.
Poway took fourth and Rancho Bernardo sixth in the Palomar League.
The top four teams at the section championships will advance to the state meet at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 30.