XC Legacy: 1986 Girls National XC Rankings

1985<<<    >>>1987


If you have ever been a part of a state championship team you know the feeling of accomplishment accompanied with victory. Each year there come very special programs across the country that step beyond simply winning and into a realm of total domination. It is in these moments of triumph that the questions of team's "greatness" are raised. Extraordinary accomplishments that warrant recognition and validation to set in stone once and for all, their XC Legacy. 


(Recap) In 2004 Nike changed the face of prep cross country with the implementation of Nike Team Nationals. After decades the hopes and dreams of avid cross fans were finally realized. Hosted by Nike, NTN allowed the top XC programs in the nation to compete in one true national championship race at Portland Meadows. Many state associations do not allow prep teams to travel so teams register as clubs in order to compete in this post season event.


The pinnacle event for the prep cross country team is earning a berth to Nike Cross Nationals. The goal of every prep team is to hoist the NXN National Championship Trophy, proclaiming the true national champions. The honor and prestige of traversing the Portland Meadows course as team victor welcomes the winning team into an elite fraternity of champions that stretches back three decades.


Nike Cross Nationals and all that the event represents to the sport of cross country undeniably traces its roots, inception, and excitement to one moment and one man over three decades ago. In 1973 New York Times free-lance reporter Marc Bloom looked across the nation and saw a lack in comprehensive coverage for prep cross country and came up with a revolutionary idea. An idea that would pump new life and energy into high school cross country. The single most profound event since to the emergence of Nike Cross Nationals three decades later, The Harrier Magazine!


In 1974 Marc Bloom released comprehensive coverage for the national cross country scene for the first time ever. Releasing detailed summaries of every state the network for prep cross country on a national scale was implemented and developed. The culminating event for The Harrier magazine was the release of the Harrier Top-50 High School All-Americans.


The winds of change came in 1976 when Harrier released the first national team rankings in US history. A new buzz and excitement spread throughout the nation as top programs sought fervently to be crowned National Champions by The Harrier magazine. Team rankings were again released in 1977, following the 1977 season The Harrier was discontinued until being resurrected by Bloom in 1989. XC Legacy has sought to bridge the gap from that final 1977 season until the 1989 season.


The significance of those four seasons from 74’-77’ in the scope of prep cross country cannot be understated. Without the efforts of Marc Bloom to network and harness the energy that is prep cross country there would have not been a platform for Nike Cross Nationals.


The Harrier 1989 rankings came at the perfect moment and for a decade teams from the four corners of the nation sought the coveted Harrier National Championship. It was this energy, and this excitement that inspired the creation of the Nike Cross Nationals…the nation’s true prep team championship.


Perhaps now a spotlight can rest on those teams who deserve recognition for superior national performances.


XCLegacy BIG-15 National Rankings

by Aron & David Taylor 



Season Accomplishment

1. Palos Verdes, California

Undefeated National Champions

2. South Eugene, Oregon

Undefeated State Champions

3. Langley, Virginia

Undefeated State Champions

4. Thousand Oaks, California

California State #2

5. Carmel, Indiana

Undefeated State Champions

6. Auburn, New York

New York Federation Champions

7. North Hunderton, New Jersey

New Jersey Meet of Champions

8. Francis Howell, Missouri

Undefeated State Champions

9. Bernards, New Jersey

New Jersey Meet of Champions Runner-up

10. Phoenix Shadow Mountain, Arizona

Undefeated State Champions

11. Shoreham Wading River, New York

New York Federation Runner-up

12. Washingtonville, New York

Eastern States Runner-up

13. Brookwood, Georgia

State Champions

14. Monroe Woodbury, New York

New York State Class A Runner-up

15. Lake Howell (Winter Park), Florida

Florida State Champion


 1.     Palos Verdes, California: National Champions 


California stands alone on the mountain top as a hot bed for distance running. Home of Stanford, Clovis, Woodbridge, Mt. Sac, Balboa, the historic Southern Sectionals Championships and the grand daddy of them all the California State Meet.  California stands alone as a breeding ground for national champions. To rise to the top of the California Cross Mountain is to stake a claim too greatness.


In 1986, Palos Verdes stormed through California with a vengeance. The concluding national statement declared the Sea Kings a dynasty in the making. The best Palos Verdes team in school history would emerge to the top of the national cross mountain. (Photo courtesy: pvcrosscountry.com)


There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever the best girls TEAM I ever coached was our 1986 group. That group of girls ran joined at the hip. I was astounding to watch them compete.” ~ Joe Kelly; Head Coach


In 1986, legendary California Editor Doug Speck released coverage for Palos Verdes in his annual California cross newsletter. Following the most prestigious west coast super meet Mt. Sac Invitational he wrote, “Just about all the important individual and team stars in the Golden state were present and it was another super show. The battle for state team supremacy continued…Palos Verdes woman’s group continued their magical season.


Magical was the correct terminology as the Sea Kings produced one of the best team performances in California state history placing five in the top ten with an incredibly low team score of 33 points! More impressive, their total team time of 93:42 was head and shoulders ahead of runner-up US#4 Thousand Oaks total team time of 98:05. A tough Thousand Oaks team whom narrowly lost to Palos Verdes at the CIF Southern Sectionals Championship in the weeks to come 42-62; as quoted by Speck, Not since the nationally top ranked University of Irvine squad of 1981 which scored 44 (95:32) in this race has a team so dominated a big race in these parts


Palos Verdes was clearly head and shoulders ahead of the state of California after an early season victory at the Northern California Clovis Invitational and the dominant Mt. Sac performance.


“I always thought running to be almost entirely mental, so the mental aspect of the sport was what I always worked on the most...although winning was always subordinated to running one's best.” ~ Joe Kelly, Head Coach


All that was left would be a repeat showdown against US#4 Thousand Oaks at the CIF SouthernSection Championships. Thousand Oaks rebounded from the pounding they received at Mt. Sac to narrowly take second to the national champion Palos Verdes squad (42-62) claiming runner-up and a US#4 National Ranking. The Sea Kings victory would be a repeat of the 1985 team performance, a back-to-back CIF Championship showing with another close victory over Thousand Oaks. The 1986 Palos Verdes team defeated the top 12 teams in the state, captain Kellie Hourigan was voted most inspirational by her teammates while Tracy Leichter received the MVP Award and Dana Sublett, most improved. The Sea Kings won EVERY Invitational to go undefeated for the second consecutive season.


Looking forward to 1987 and the advent of the first California State Championship and plans to travel to Manhattan, Palos Verdes has high hopes of a repeat National Championship season. Look for the 87’ team to demonstrate to the Eastern States just what Palos Verdes are made of, heart, determination, and Sea King pride. The reign of Palos Verdes has officially started with the school’s first girl’s national championship… Let the Palos Verdes Dynasty officially begin.


It always seemed like the hallmark of our program was runners exceeding in competition what they were penciled in to do on paper, people who were determined to buoy their teammates rather than to let them down. Over the years I coached, I saw this phenomenon time and time again, and I was always lifted by what these people did. Frankly, although some teams over the years gained more attention and received more accolades than others, they were all special in their own way and all left a stamp on my life as a coach.” ~ Joe Kelly, Head Coach