Paly's Williams helps wrap up
top prep season in state finals
The 2010-2011 high school season came to a close on a rainy Saturday evening as two athletes from Palo Alto went after medals at the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Perhaps it was appropriate that both athletes — Maurice Williams of Palo Alto and Erin Robinson of Gunn — were seniors as both wrapped up their prep careers and the school year.
Maurice Williams finished up his accomplished career at Palo Alto with a seventh-place finish in the boys' 100-meter finals. His time of 10.91 was well off the 10.71 he ran in the prelims a day earlier. The rainy, windy conditions on Saturday, precluded faster times.
Williams started and finished the year on the biggest stage — the state finals. In the fall, he scored a touchdown and helped the Vikings win their first-ever state football championship.
Robinson also likely felt the effects of the inclement weather as she fell off the pace in the finals of the girls' 3,200 meters and wound up 26th in 11:14:88. It was well off her career best, set last year.
While Williams and Robinson didn't finish with their bests, they did conclude highly successful careers with their third trips to the state meet.
As a freshman, Williams ran on the Vikings' 400 relay team. He didn't run track as a sophomore, but returned to Veteran's Memorial Stadium to compete in the triple jump last season.
"This his third trip to the state meet," said Paly coach Jason Fung. "How many others can say that?"
The fact Williams played in a state football finale and reached the state finals in track didn't surprise Fung one bit.
"This whole year I've told him you can run these times," Fung related. "This year on the football field I've seen him do things I've never seen done before."
Williams was hoping to have two events on the final day of the 2011 state meet, but the Paly 400 relay just came up short while clocking 42.16 for 12th place. Only the top nine advanced. It was Paly's second-fastest time of the season and the No. 2 time in school history.
Fung said his squad of Tremaine Kirkman, Williams, Morris Gates-Mouton and Miles Anderson found the Mondo surface of the track unusually hard.
"They're used to the squishy Paly track," Fung said, noting that it wasn't a perfect race for the Vikings — who needed one to advance. Paly was hoping to not only eclipse the school record of 42.07 it ran at the Central Coast Section finals the previous weekend, but the all-time fastest clocking for any City of Palo Alto school, the 41.83 by Cubberley in 1979.
Palo Alto sophomore Victor Du, meanwhile, also just missed qualifying for the high jump finals after clearing a personal best of 6-foot-5. He had one more miss at 6-5, which prevented him from advancing.
"He had a great attempt at 6-7," Fung said. "He just missed coming over the bar. I'm ecstatic for Victor. It was a PR, at the state meet. He was one of only three sophomores in the field. One cleared 6-3 and the other no-heighted."
Also missing out on making the finals was Menlo School senior Sam Parker, who ran a personal best of 1:53.52 for a school record and the fastest time by a CCS runner this season. That still got him only 18th overall in the fast field that was led by a 1:49.82 time.
In the girls' 800 prelims, Gunn junior Kieran Gallagher finished 25th overall in 2:18.89. The top qualifying time was 2:10.51. In the boys' long jump, Menlo-Atherton senior Stas Della Morte leaped only 20-6 ¾ for 24th place. Had he duplicated his winning mark from CCS of 22-10 ½, he would have finished sixth and advanced to the finals.
The best senior athletes at Gunn High during the 2010-11 school year did not play any of the major sports like football, basketball or baseball. Instead, the four athletes who shared the top awards this year excelled in running, soccer, wrestling and badminton.
Erin Robinson and Phoebe Lin share the Senior Female Athlete of the Year honor while Stefan Weidemann and Henry Liu are co-winners of the Senior Male Athlete of the Year. All four were honored recently at the Gunn Spring Sports Awards banquet.
Robinson was the lone three-sport standout among the senior award winners while competing in cross country, soccer and track and field. She was second in the Central Coast Section championships in cross country in 2009 and '10, was a league MVP in soccer in 2009 and qualified for the CIF State Track and Field Championships for a third straight season this spring.
Lin excelled at badminton, where she was a CCS champion in mixed doubles both in 2010 and this spring. In singles, she was third at CCS in 2009 and second in 2008.
For the boys, Weidemann was a standout in wrestling. He was the 2011 CCS champion at 152 pounds and finished 13th in the state finals this season. In 2010, he was fourth in CCS at 140 pounds and fifth at CCS at 135 in 2009. He recently was third in the state in a qualifying event for a national championship.
Sharing the award was Liu, who was a CCS badminton champion this spring in mixed doubles after winning the doubles title in 2010. He also was second in doubles in 2009 and third in 2008.
Also honored during the awards banquet were Junior Female Athlete of the Year Julia Maggioncalda and Junior Male Athlete of the Year Andrew Prior.
Maggioncalda kept busy in volleyball, basketball and track and field. She was the point leader on the SCVAL El Camino Division-winning volleyball team in 2010, played on two CCS basketball finalist teams (2009, '11) and was a league champion in the high jump (2009, 2010) and in long jump (2011) in track. She also was sixth in the CCS high jump in 2010.
Prior excelled in cross country plus track and field. He was 10th at CCS and a state qualifier in cross country in 2010 and was a league champion in the 1,600 meters during the track season while being ranked as high as No. 5 in CCS.