Paly, SHP swimmers ready
for fast times in 'Challenge'The annual Section Challenge swim meet at Palo Alto High has been become known as the fastest mid-season event for its sizzling marks that compare favorably with the Central Coast and North Coast Section finals.
Five meet records were either set or tied last season while 10 marks fell in 2008 as some of the nation's top athletes have rewritten the record book.
More marks are expected to fall again on Saturday when the fifth annual swim showdown gets off the blocks in the Paly pool at 9 a.m.
Two sophomores, Palo Alto;s Jasmine Tosky and Sacred Heart Prep's Tom Kremer, are primed for potential record-breaking performances.
Tosky, who broke the 200 IM meet record last season with a then-school record of 2:03.64, will compete in the 200 free and 500 free on Saturday. The 200 free meet record of 1:52.43 is well within her reach while the 500 free mark of 4:49.40 would be sensational for Tosky at this time of the season. She set the school record of 4:43.96 in the 500 free last season but is still chasing the Paly mark of 1:48.69 in the 200 free.
Kremer brings a season best of 1:42.24, ranking him No. 2 in school history, into the 200 free. The meet record is 1:41.11. Kremer also has the fastest seed time in the 100 back of 52.43, which set a school record this season. The meet record is 53.09.
Kremer also will swim on the Gators' 200 free relay (seeded No. 1) and 400 free relay (seeded No. 2).
Other top local swimmers competing include Paly's Sarah Liang, Margaret Wenzlau, Sabrina Lee, diver Gracie Greenwood, Byron Sanborn, Arseny Kotov plus SHP's Philip Bamberg, David Culpan, Katie Howard and Erin Sheridan.
In addition to Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep, other top teams competing include Mitty, Harker, Campolindo. Monta Vista, Bellarmine, San Ramon Valley and Granite Bay.
Palo Alto tuned up for the meet by sweeping Saratoga in SCVAL De Anza Division duals on Wednesday.
With Tosky and Liang each winning two events, the Paly girls posted a 111-74 victory. The Vikings (3-1) won eight events with Tosky taking the 200 free (1:55.70) and 100 free (53.51) with solid times, while Liang did the same while winning the 200 IM (2:06.53) and 100 breast (1:08.41). Wenzlau won the 100 fly (58.46) while the Vikings took the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
In the boys' meet, Saratoga came up with the fastest times but Paly had the depth as it swam to a 115-68 victory. Saratoga had five individual winners, but Paly won two relays, swept the diving and went two-three in six events to help pile up the points.
Menlo sophomore lefthander Jake Batchelder produced a standout individual performance as he shut out Harker, 4-0, in a West Bay Athletic League baseball game Wednesday.
Batchelder stretched his scoreless streak to 16 innings as the Knights improved to 2-1 in league (12-6 overall). Batchelder needed only 84 pitches as he started 21 of the hitters with strikes, walking only one and striking out five. Jake Bruml had a clutch two-out hit in the first to put the Knights ahead and Phil Anderson stole the second run with a hustle double, a great read and advancement on a short wild pitch before scoring on a wild pitch.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn won its fifth straight division game by handing visiting Fremont a 5-2 loss on Tuesday. The Titans improved to 5-3 in league (7-10-2 overall) and moved into a tie for second place.
Defense was the name of the game for Gunn as it turned in an error-free performance on the cool, drizzly day. Sophomore Graham Fisher picked up the win as he tossed six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits. Jack Hannan had a run-saving play and Blake Johnson robbed Fremont's Austin Ellis of an extra- base hit in support of Fisher's pitching. Matt Mertz made a number of nice plays in right field.
Offensively, Gunn scored its runs on just five hits. Jon Rea led off the fourth inning with a double, went to third on a sacrifice fly and scored on a wild pitch. Johnson scored later in the same inning on a well-executed first-and-third play. Travis Bowers led off the sixth with a double and scored on Tyler Harney's single. Harney scored on a fielder's choice. Johnson scored Gunn's final run on a sacrifice fly by Danny Luskin.
Sacred Heart Prep struggled more with chilly temperatures and strong gusty winds than with host Crystal Springs as the Gators produced a 210-253 dual-match victory over the host Gryphons in West Bay Athletic League action Wednesday on the par-36 Crystal Springs Golf Club in Hillsborough. Sophomore Spencer Clark led the first-place Gators (8-0, 10-0) with a 3-over 39. On Monday, senior Dalan Refioglu shot a 1-under 35 as the Gators had their lowest score of the season in a 189-209 win over Harker at Sharon Heights CC.
Second-place Menlo, meanwhile, had Patrick Grimes shoot a 1-under 34 and fellow junior Bobby Pender an even-par 35 as the Knights rolled to a 189-233 victory over host King's Academy at Sunnyvale Muni on Wednesday. Freshman Andrew Buchanan had a 1-over 36 as the Knights improved to 7-1. On Monday, junior MJ Cootsona shot a 1-over 36 in Menlo's 199-227 WBAL win over Pinewood at Palo Alto Hills Country Club.
It hasn't been a typical dominating year for Menlo, but the Knights still rank as among the best in CCS following a 13-11 victory over visiting Palo Alto in a nonleague match on Tuesday.
The Knights are 5-0 in the SCVAL De Anza Division (9-4 overall) while the Vikings are 6-0 (9-3) in the SCVAL El Camino Division. The inter-divisional showdown matched the top two teams in the league. Inter-divisional matches do not count on division records, thus Palo Alto was able to maintain its hold on first place.
Menlo, ranked No. 5 in CCS trailed Palo Alto at the half, 7-6, but came back with a vengeance to tally five unanswered goals in the third quarter to grab an 11-7 advantage.
The teams could meet again in SCVAL playoffs at the end of the season. Paly, ranked No. 6 in CCS in only its first season of play, built up a 5-2 first-quarter lead thanks to crisp shooting by Kris Hoglund, Kevin Proceviat, and Zach Spain. Hoglund and Spain scored again early in the second quarter, but Menlo countered with three goals by Kyle Bullington and another by Andy Mackenzie.
Wiley Osborne and Bullington led the Knights with three goals each while Chris Brown, Chris Kvamme and Mackenzie added two each. Palo Alto was paced by Hoglund with four goals and two assists, and Spain, who scored three goals and one assist.
In another SCVAL inter-divisional match, Menlo-Atherton posted a 16-3 victory over visiting Los Altos. Drew Uphoff and Zander Rohn each scored three goals to pace the Bears (0-6, 2-6) while John Athens, Adam Sklarin and Ben Burnett each added two. M-A plays in the De Anza while the Eagles (1-4, 1-8) play in the El Camino.
Maya Fielder scored five goals to pace Palo Alto to a 17-7 victory over host Saratoga in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Wednesday. Emily Fowler added four goals and Kimmie Flather contributed three as the Vikings maintained their hold on first place at 8-0 (12-1 overall). Paly had nine goals assisted with Flather, Brianna Boyd and Lauren Mah all providing two.
One day after dropping a WBAL match to Burlingame by one goal, the Sacred Heart Prep girls took on one of the Bay Area's best in St. Ignatius and lost a 15-8 nonleague lacrosse decision in Atherton. Sacred Heart was led by senior Tory Wilkinson, who scored three times and added two assists as the Gators fell to 10-3 overall. Next up for SHP is a Friday home match against WBAL (Foothill Division) leader Menlo at 4 p.m
In the WBAL on Tuesday, Castilleja got six goals from Stephanie Merenbach as the Gators rolled to a 13-6 victory over host Menlo-Atherton. Martha Harding added three goals with Sophie Koontz congtributing two. Caroline Edwards led the Bears (0-4, 3-10) with three goals.
With senior pitcher Sammy Albanese stretching her streak of hitless innings to eight games, the Castilleja softball team handled visiting King's Academy, 3-0, in a WBAL game on Tuesday.
Albanese (11-1-1) struck out 19 during her latest no-hit gem that knocked the visitors out of first place. She now has 220 strikeouts this season. Albanese also contributed a triple while teammate Annie Apffel had a double and drove in a run. Castilleja (6-1, 11-6-2) will be host to Notre Dame-San Jose on Friday at 4 p.m.
Albanese has not allowed a hit since March 11, when she one-hit host Oak Grove in a 4-0 victory. Albanese has allowed only three singles in 13 outings this season while registering the eight no-hitters.
While Castilleja was holding on to a share of first place in the WBAL, Gunn moved into sole possession of first place in the SCVAL El Camino Division with a 5-0 blanking of visiting Cupertino on Tuesday.
Freshman pitcher Claire Klausner once again was outstanding as she struck out 16 and came within one out of tossing a perfect game, settling for a one-hitter while improving to 11-7-1.
Claire Collins got the offensive ball rolling for Gunn by leading off the third with a triple to the centerfield fence. Amber St. John and Nikki Schwardt followed with hits as the Titans tallied three times. Collins finished with two of her team's five hits. Laura Tao also added a hit and an RBI as the Titans improved to 5-1 in league (13-8-1 overall).
In the WBAL, Menlo remained in contention with a 7-2 victory over visiting Pinewood. Freshman pitcher Kelly McConnell (8-2) struck out seven but struggled with eight walks while gaining the victory. Estefania Avila and Rebecca Friedman each had two hits for the Knights (5-2, 8-2).
In the PAL Ocean Division, host Menlo-Atherton (3-3, 3-11) won its third straight as Tami Vujovich tossed a five-inning one-hitter in an 11-0 victory over visiting South San Francisco.
Vujovich faced only 16 hitters in the game, shortened by the 10-run mercy rule. Hannah Rosenfeld had a two-run double, Erin LaPort added a two-run single and Alexis Guitron had two hits plus two RBI. Vujovich also helped herself with three hits, including a double, and two RBI.
In nonleague action, Palo Alto played its first game since returning from spring break, and the Vikings displayed a little rustiness while registering a 5-2 victory over visiting Evergreen Valley on Monday. Paly (13-4) had to rally from a 2-0 deficit to pull out the victory.