The Titans have been unbeatable in three league-wide meets this season, beating everyone in the De Anza and El Camino Divisions. Thus, anything short of a team crown would be a huge disappointment for coach PattiSue Plumer and her girls.
While that may seem too much pressure or expectations to heap upon the Titans, they've stood up to the competition all season and come away as winners each time.
In its most recent outing, senior Sarah Robinson led the way with a course record as the Gunn girls ran away with the final SCVAL meet of the season on Tuesday at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.
The Titans placed four runners among the top 10 and scored 32 points to easily defeat Mountain View (88) and Los Gatos (89).
"Sarah ran a great race as did the vast majority of our athletes," said Plumer, a former Stanford All-American runner and two-time Olympian. "It was a great day for Gunn cross country!"
Robinson reclaimed the course record she lost last Thursday to Harker's Niki Iyler by clocking 17:45 over the flat 3.1-mile course. Robinson recorded her time despite running off the course for 3-5 seconds, according to Plumer.
"The race doubles back and the lead bike continued on the path instead of making a sharp right toward the finish and Sarah followed," Plumer explained of Robinson's misadventure. "Lead bikes usually do that (before the finish line) but since it didn't stop and was following the cones that were to mark the course on the way out, Sarah followed him."
Despite her brief detour, Robinson still ranks No. 2 in the Central Coast Section this season behind only Anna Maxwell of San Lorenzo Valley. Robinson won the Monterwy Bay Invitational title on Friday in 17:50 over a 3.0-mile course, which coverts to a 17:27 at Crystal Springs — where Maxwell has run 17:00 this season. That course will host the section championships on Nov. 16.
Gunn's Gillian Meeks was third in 18:53.3, freshman teammate Claire Hu was fifth in 19:05.2 and sophomore Maya Miklos finished ninth in 19:56.2. Rounding out the scoring was Elli Gardner in 20:10.5.
Palo Alto finished sixth with 191 points as freshman Bryn Carlson clocked 19:24.9.
In the boys' race, Palo Alto junior Lucas Matison clocked 16:08.2 while finishing second to help the Vikings take third in the team scoring with 120 points. Lynbrook captured the team title with 47 while Mountain View was second with 106. Gunn was fourth with 122. Gunn senior Thomas Rasmussen was seventh in 16:43.8 and Paly freshman Kent Slaney was 11th in 16:59.
Menlo School won its 14th straight match with a 7-0 romp over host Crystal Springs in WBAL Foothill Division action Wednesday in Hillsborough. The Knights improved to 7-0 in the division (17-1 overall) while winning their 205th straight league match, an ongoing state record.
Boys water polo
Sacred Heart Prep earned no worse than a co-championship in the West Catholic Athletic League following an 18-8 dunking of host St. Francis on Wednesday evening. The Gators moved to 5-0 in league (16-2 overall) while the Lancers dropped to 2-3 (6-12).
SHP has one league match remaining, against host St. Ignatius next Wednesday. The Wildcats (4-1) fell into a tie for second with Bellarmine (5-1), which concluded its WCAL season with a 14-7 win over SI on Wednesday.
Two factors helped SHP against St. Francis as the Lancers were without their starting goalie and concentrated on stopping senior Harrison Enright, who was limited to one goal. SHP's Nelson Perla-Ward took advantage of being left open by scoring seven goals. Michael Swart added four goals and Will Conner three for SHP, which had seven players find the scoring column.
"Overall, we were balanced in our scoring and we are hard to stop when we play that way," said SHP coach Brian Kreutzkamp. "We are trying to carry this momentum into this weekend's North-South Challenge, which will be our toughest test of the season."
The 16-team field features Mater Dei, which will bring a 95-match win streak into the two-day tournament at the SHP and M-A pools. The title match is Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The complete schedule is at www.pasportsonline.com.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo School had 10 players score in a 19-2 romp over Aragon. Andreas Katsis led the first-place Knights (8-0, 17-2) with five goals with Chris Xi adding three as Menlo clinched no worse than a co-championship with two league matches remaining.
Elsewhere in the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton remained in second place following a 22-4 dunking of Sequoia. Alex Hakanson and Matt Baszucki each tallied four goals for the Bears (6-2, 10-6) with John Knox, Jace Blazensky and Evan McClelland adding three each.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn moved closer to wrapping up the regular-season title following a 12-10 victory over host Lynbrook on Tuesday. Quinn Hamilton scored four goals for the Titans (9-0, 12-6) and Coby Wayne added three.
Palo Alto, meanwhile, got a pair of goals from Sam Kelley in a 6-4 win over host Mountain View as the Vikings moved to 8-2 in league (18-4 overall) while attempting to wrap up the No. 2 seed for the league playoffs. Lucas Novak's goal with time running out in the third period proved to be the winner as it gave Paly a 5-3 lead.
Girls water polo
Menlo-Atherton clinched no worse than a co-championship in the PAL Bay Division with a 9-4 win over visiting Sequoia on Wednesday. The Bears (8-0, 13-5) were led by Jessica Heilman's four goals. M-A can clinch an outright title by beating Aragon next Wednesday.
In the WCAL, Sacred Heart Prep lost an opportunity to virtually wrap up the league crown following a tough 12-11 loss to unbeaten St. Francis in Mountain View.
The Gators (4-1, 14-5) grabbed an 8-6 lead against the Lancers (5-0, 17-0) before things fell apart.
"We made a few mistakes early in the third quarter and lost momentum," said SHP coach Jon Burke. "They're a good team, so we weren't able to capitalize on them.
"Overall, I am really proud of the girls and how they competed. We showed a lot of improvement and character and put ourselves in a position to win. We hope to see them again in the WCAL finals on November 9."
St. Francis got the game-winning goal from Courtney Batcheller with just 49 seconds to play. SHP held an 11-9 after a goal by Caitlin Stuewe, before the Lancers rallied behind goals from McKenna Yates and a 5-meter penalty shot by Batcheller to tie, setting up Batcheller's winning shot.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, senior Caroline Anderson equaled her season high of 10 goals as Gunn moved a step closer to defending its regular-season title with a 16-4 romp over host Homestead on Tuesday night.
The Titans are 9-0 in the division (13-4 overall) with three to play after winning for the 10th time in their past 11 matches. Rachel Wong added five goals for Gunn, which pulled away to a 9-3 halftime lead.