Gunn senior runner Sarah Robinson capped off her league cross-country career with her best performance ever on the rolling 2.95-mile Crystal Springs layout in Belmont on Tuesday.
Robinson finished first in the El Camino Division of the girls' SCVAL Cross County Championships with a time of 17:04, helping her varsity team win the overall league crown.
Including Robinson, three Gunn girls placed in the top 10 and the team scored 41 points to win by a comfortable 16-point margin over second-place Mountain View. Palo Alto finished third with 72 points.
The Gunn and Paly boys tied for second place with 89 points apiece, with the Titans earning a tiebreaker to get that spot. First-place Los Altos placed an astonishing six runners in the top 10 and won easily with 26 points.
Paly junior runner Lucas Matison led the way in the boys' race, taking first with a 15:30 time.
It was Robinson, however, who shined brightest on the warm afternoon as she remained unbeaten in seven races this season.
Her time was a personal best on the course and established an El Camino Division meet record, breaking the 17:31 by former Gunn standout Tori Tyler in 2004. Robinson's time also is the ninth-fastest ever on the course and makes her the No. 8 all-time girls' performer.
She finished the race with no other runner in sight, as the next-fastest time came from Lauren Jacob of Los Altos, who finished in 17:49.
"I'm pretty happy about the time," a smiling Robinson said afterwards. "I brought myself out at a decent pace, not too fast. I started to push towards the end of the race, and that was pretty much the strategy today."
Even Robinson's coach, PattiSue Plumer, could not help but marvel at Robinson's impressive feat.
"It's remarkable; it's hard to understand how good that (time) is," Plumer said. "I'm just lucky to get to coach her."
Plumer was also impressed how well Robinson, and all of her runners, were able to perform, despite the less-than-ideal racing conditions.
"It's one thing to run on a cool day where it's misty," Plumer said. "But to do it when it's in the mid-70s and dusty . . . that really says something."
Robinson estimated that she had run the course five or more times in the past, and said the win was made more satisfying because she was unable to compete in the SCVAL championship last season. As a result, Gunn finished fourth.
Robinson also explained that her individual win was certainly made sweeter by the success of her fellow teammates.
"It's just really fun," Robinson said of the collective victory. "Everyone can do well individually knowing they are helping the team."
Freshman Claire Hu finished fifth overall for Gunn with a time of 19:01, and sophomore Gillian Meeks finished eighth with a 19:39 mark.
Sophomore Bryn Carlson was the lone Paly girl in the top 10, finishing with a solid 18:54 time. Her teammate, junior Katie Foug, finished in 11th place, posting a 20:08 time.
In the boys' race, Gunn was led by Thomas Rasmussen, who finished 11th with a 16:39 time. Antonio Puglisi and Noah Krigel both finished in the top 20, as well, finishing 17th and 18th with times of 17:14 and 17:16, respectively.
For the Paly boys, Matison's first-place effort was the main propeller of the team, with a 16th-place finish from Aaron Chandler and a 20th-place finish from freshman Kent Slaney, who ran despite battling a painful hip flexor injury.
Plumer, who coaches both the boys and girls at Gunn, was very happy with the overall performance of both of her teams in the meet, and placed some of the success of both squads on the tenacity of her girls.
"It's great to have good girls, because the guys start to get competitive," Plumer said with a laugh. "Guys don't like to be beaten by the girls. They get mad, and then they start to train better and run better."
For the Gunn girls, the SCVAL championship wrapped up an undefeated league season. The boys and girls from Paly and Gunn all qualified for the Central Coast Section Championships, Nov. 16 at Crystal Springs.