The Gunn girls have not lost a cross-country meet this season, running to victories in league-wide meets and invitationals. Senior Sarah Robinson, meanwhile, also is unbeaten in all her races.
While Robinson is favored to keep her unbeaten streak intact at the Central Coast Section Championships on Saturday at Crystal Springs in Belmont, the Titans as a team are on shaky ground.
With only the top two girls teams in Division I advancing to the CIF State Meet, Gunn is looking at a possible third-place finish behind Monta Vista and Menlo-Atherton.
"There are no time standards for the state meet," said Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer. "Ugh. One of the best teams in CCS will be left home."
Gunn certainly isn't lacking in motivation or momentum. The Titans finished seventh at CCS last year when Robinson did not run due to physical problems. This season has been a complete turnaround for Robinson and Gunn, who ran off with the SCVAL El Camino Division individual and team titles last week.
Monta Vista, however, won the SCVAL De Anza Division crown and Menlo-Atherton took the Peninsula Athletic League Championship meet. Thus, the CCS finale looms as quite a showdown in the girls' Division I race.
"The girl's race is going to be good," said M-A co-head coach Eric Wilmurt. "I'm sure all teams will be ready on Saturday; no one is going to lay down."
Gunn, however, might not be 100 percent healthy.
"We are dealing with some big health issues, which might be too big to overcome given M-A's strong finish," Plumer said.
Based on projections of runners' best times from the league finals by Lynbrook coach Hank Lawson, Robinson is the overwhelming favorite with her 17:04 clocking on the 2.95-mile layout at the league meet. Gunn freshman Claire Hu ranks 12th, sophomore teammate Gillian Meeks ranks 20th, sophomore Maya Miklos is No. 27 and sophomore Sherry Zhou is No. 28. That adds to 88 points.
Menlo-Atherton, however, is projected to have 85 points. Sophomore Madeleine Baier leads the way in sixth (18:41.6), sophomore Katie Beebe is 10th, senior Taylor Fortnam is 122nd, senior Annika Roise is 23rd, and sophomore Annalisa Crowe is 24th.
Clearly, Gunn's final two scorers need to finish ahead of M-A's final two or three for the Titans to have a chance of advancing as a team.
Ironically, a third state meet berth was added for Division I boys this year but not for the girls.
Monta Vista is projected to win the title easily with 52 points.
Based on best times run at Crystal Springs this season, Gunn ranks second to Monta Vista while Menlo-Atherton is fourth behind Mountain View. So, anything could happen Saturday.
Palo Alto sophomore Bryn Carlson has the No. 9 time (18:53.7) going into the meet and could earn a state meet berth with a similar finish. The Vikings sent Katie Foug to the state finals last year. She currently ranks No. 25.
While the boys' Division I race will be competitive, it won't have that local showdown as in the girls' race. Bellarmine, Carlmont and Homestead rank 1-2-3 in the CCS and are expected to finish in that order. Palo Alto ranks sixth, Gunn eighth and Menlo-Atherton ninth.
Palo Alto junior Lucas Matison, however, comes in with the fastest league time (15:29.7) and will battle for individual honors and a state meet berth. M-A senior Zach Plante ranks No. 13 and likely would have to move up in order to advance to the state meet in Fresno on Nov. 30.
Other local teams in the running for state berths include the Menlo girls in Division IV, Sacred Heart Prep boys in Division IV, plus the Priory girls and boys in Division V.
Menlo, which has no seniors, is led by junior Lizzie Lacy (No. 5 in 18:39.7) and sophomore Zoe Enright (No. 6 in 19:01.8).
The SHP boys are led by junior Daniel Hill (No. 3 in 16:17.4). The Gators, however, are listed as the No. 5 team with only three advancing.
Pinewood junior Nicole Colonna has the top girls' time in Division V at 19:00.7, but Priory is favored for the title with sophomores Hana Marsheck (No. 3 in 19:31) and Maria Naclerio (No. 4 in 20:26.8) leading the way.
The Priory boys are big favorites in Division V with junior Ross Corey bringing the No. 1 time (16:38.6), senior Chris Gregory with the No. 3 time (16:48.8) and senior Johnny Trudelle the sixth best in 16:58.8.