Despite suffering another injury, Paly's
Anderson will run at the State Meet
After struggling with football injuries during his high school career, Palo Alto senior Miles Anderson finally is getting a chance to perform at an elite level. That opportunity arrives Friday when Anderson and four teammates compete in the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Anderson, who missed playing in the state championship football game in the fall due to injury, nearly saw his chance of anchoring the 400 relay team in the state prelims ripped away by a weightlifting accident on Wednesday.
Just before finishing his final rep, a pin in the equipment slipped and his right hand was pinched. Anderson lost a fingernail and some skin on one finger and Paly coach Jason Fung feared the worst.
But, Fung said on Thursday, "It's not as bad as we expected. He's fine. I went by his house on Wednesday night and he was in good spirits. Morphine does wonders for you.
"He wants to run. Once the adrenaline hits, he should be fine."
Anderson runs anchor on the fastest 400 relay team in school history. The Vikings' team of junior Tremaine Kirkman, senior Maurice Williams, junior Morris Gates-Mouton and Anderson broke a 31-year-old school record of 42.74 by clocking a 42.07 at last Friday's Central Coast Section championships at Gilroy High.
"We have been looking to beat the school mark and we think we can do even better," Williams said. "It's something that keeps us working hard."
Anderson said the group wants to break into the 41s and gain some revenge on Gilroy and Bellarmine, who finished ahead of the Vikings.
"All three teams that placed broke school records," said Fung. Gilroy won in 41.77 with Bellarmine second in 41.99.
"I thought we could have beaten Bellarmine," Fung said. "We could have gone faster. The first handoff was botched. That's usually our best handoff."
Kirkman reinforced that notion, saying the team works particularly hard at the relay and could likely make the hand off in their sleep for as often as they practice the crucial exchange.
The state meet will mark the last time they will race the event together, as Williams and Anderson graduate.
Palo Alto goes in as the No. 10 seed. Roosevelt of the Southern Section is the fastest at 41.16 while Gilroy is No. 7 and Bellarmine is No. 9. No other section in the state has three teams among the top 10.
"We have a chance (to make finals)," Fung said. "That's all I asked for. If they run well, I think we can run under 42.00. I have confidence in these guys; we've got nothing to lose."
The Vikings have plenty to gain. One big carrot dangling out there is the 41.83 time that Cubberley High ran in 1979. That team, anchored by former 400-meter national recordholder Bill Green, ranks No. 10 all-time in CCS history and is No. 1 all-time in Palo Alto.
"We've got something to run for on Friday," Fung said.
Joining the relay team in Friday's prelims will be sophomore high jumper Victor Du. He finished fourth at CCS, losing a jump-off at 6-3. Du was added to the state roster when second-place finisher Dalyn Pacheco of Serra (6-5) decided to drop out.
Also competing this weekend at the State Meet will be Menlo-Atherton senior Stas Della Morte, Menlo School senior Sam Parker plus Gunn senior Erin Robinson and junior teammate Kieran Gallagher.
Della Morte won his first CCS title by taking the long jump at 22-10 1/2. Della Morte put a stressful week behind him to out jump the rest of the field, which also included Paly's Williams, who placed fourth in 22-3.
"Last week I had to worry about finals and finishing school," Della Morte said. "The last couple of days I've been able to relax. We've mostly been watching movies in class."
That still didn't keep him from getting anxious. He has some trouble getting sleep Thursday night as he went over the long jump in his mind time and again.
"I was over thinking everything," he said. "I just wanted to be ready."
Della Morte goes into Friday's prelims ranked 13th. The top qualifying mark is 24-10.
Williams, who finished the 100 in 10.90, just off his personal best, was gaining on Gilroy's Jourdan Soares, who won the event in 10.66, as they crossed the finish line.
"That's a pretty fast group," Williams said. "It was all speed."
Williams is seeded 19th for the 100 prelims. Soares is No. 5.
Menlo's Parker also qualified for the state meet for the first time in his specialty with his second-place finish in the 800 in a time of 1:57.27. That makes him the No. 27 seed in the prelims, with No. 1 being 1:50.50.
Gunn's Robinson earned a second straight trip to the finals of the 3,200 after taking second at CCS in 10:48.86. That was just off her personal best of 10:48.79 ran at last year's CCS finals.
Gallagher earned her second berth at the State meet despite taking fourth in the 800 at CCS in 2:16.02. Gallagher brought the section's top mark into the finals and was in control of the race most of the way before she was caught in the final 40 yards.
"I think I was nervous because I started to worry about finishing in the top three," Gallagher said. "I started losing a little confidence."
Gallagher learned she would make the trip to Clovis when Aptos' Nikki Hiltz and Mountain View's Allison Sturges both dropped the event to concentrate on the 1,600.
"I didn't want to get my hopes up because I realized they both earned it," Gallagher said. "I've been having some trouble getting nervous before races and I was disappointed in this race."
She immediately burst into the lead at the start because "I don't like to mess around" and was running comfortably before getting caught down the stretch.
Robinson said she has been struggling most of the season, with only a couple of good races to show for her efforts. Fortunately one of her best races was in the final.
"I would have liked to PR but I'm happy with what I did," Robinson said. "Up until now I haven't had a good race . . . My training has been going well but it seems when it comes to the races I get locked up. I wish I could have gone faster but I do have state."