By Keith Peters
Castilleja lost its unbeaten season, but not its hold on first place in the West Bay Athletic League girls' golf race despite a loss to Sacred Heart Prep on Monday at Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course.
SHP handed Castilleja its first league loss since 2010, when the teams shared the WBAL title, but Castilleja (8-1, 8-2) remained in control of the race with only Tuesday's match with Harker remaining. Harker lost to Menlo on Monday.
Sacred Heart Prep (7-1-1, 7-2-1), which had its title hopes ruined with a 232-232 tie with Notre Dame-San Jose on Oct. 7, likely will finish second once again despite Monday's victory.
"It was a big win," said SHP coach Mark Dowdy, whose team lost to Castilleja in the first round, 222-226, at Palo Alto Hills. "The tie does hurt us, though. Kind of a perfect storm when we had the tie. We had three matches that week and that really sets the kids back in school, so we had to go deeper into the roster.
"To compound matters, Maddy (Ellison) missed the match due to illness and one of the NDSJ players shot their career low score. It's sports, those things happen. Hopefully we'll continue the strong play next week and earn one of the at-large CCS team entries."
Sacred Heart Prep wraps up its regular season on Wednesday against Mercy-Burlingame at Poplar Creek in San Mateo, site of next Wednesday's league tournament. The one-day event qualifies individuals to the section tournament. A total of 23 individuals from the various league events will advance to CCS, along with four at-large teams.
Barring a disaster against Harker, Castilleja will advance as the WBAL champ. SHP likely will get an at-large berth, but will have to earn it next week.
Monday's victory, then, was all about a little revenge and ending Castilleja's dual-match win streak.
Ellison, a sophomore, led SHP with a 4-over 39, with junior Jessica Koenig and freshman Cami Steppe adding 40s. Lauren von Thaden shot 41 and fellow freshman Sinead Haley a 42.
Ellison played in the second group and Steppe in the third. It was Steppe low match score of the season. She didn't even figure in the scoring the first time the teams met.
"Sacred Heart played really well," said Castilleja first-year coach Donn Levine. "Lots of great scores from their freshmen. Hard to believe they were tied by NDSJ recently. Not much to say about us except many (Castilleja players) didn't perform to their usual high standards."
Chloe Sales and fellow junior Nicole Mitchell each shot 40 to pace Castilleja. Senior Ellie Zales contributed a 43 after not scoring in the first match. Danielle Mitchell also shot 43 along with Paris Wilkerson.
SHP held a four-stroke lead with the final foursome still to finish.
In nonleague action Monday, Gunn (12-2) played without junior standout Anna Zhou -- playing elsewhere in a tournament -- and suffered a 201-206 nonleague golf match to visiting Leland on Monday at Palo Alto Muni.
Zhou was sorely missed as she normally shoots around par. Gunn's No. 5 scorer on Monday shot 47, a score that normally would not have counted had Zhou played. Senior Jayshree Sarathy led the Titans with a 2-over 36 and Tiffany Yang added a 37. Somina Lee shot 42, Lianna McFarlane-Connelly finished with a 44 and Margaret Redfield rounded out the scoring with a 47.
The medalist was Nicole Winiecki from Leland with a 35. Leland is unbeaten in the Blossom Valley Athletic League, where Gunn played last season and captured the league title with an unbeaten record.
Also at Palo Alto Muni on Monday, a pair of underclassmen led Menlo School to a 217-229 golf victory over Harker in WBAL action. Freshman Lauren Yang and sophomore Nicole Henderson earned medalist honors by each shooting 4-over 38.
Kristine Lin and Daphne Liang both shot 39 for Harker. Menlo sophomores Jessie Rong shot 41, Grace Costello 48 and Elizabeth Power 51 for Menlo (4-5), which closes its regular season Wednesday against Notre Dame-San Jose at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club.