Paly golf beats the elements
Vikings overcome bad weather and tough field to win long-awaited tourney title
The Palo Alto boys' golf team had to battle more than just a talented field in the annual Titan Golf Challenge on Tuesday at Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. The Vikings also had to deal with the inclement weather, which included rain, cold and winds gusting to 30 miles per hour.
Despite a steady, heavy rain over the final six holes of the 18-hole event, Palo Alto overcame seven other teams and the weather to capture its first tournament title in at least five years.
The Vikings compiled a team score of 387 to defeat its closest pursuers, Sacred Heart Prep (398) and Gunn (403). Menlo School was fourth with 405 strokes.
The team crown kept Paly perfect since a fifth-place finish in a season-opening tournament in Salinas. The Vikings are 7-0 in SCVAL De Anza Division action while Gunn also is unbeaten. The teams still have two head-to-head matches in April to decide the regular-season title.
On Tuesday, it was all Palo Alto as freshman John Knowles led the way with a solid 1-over 73 and junior Grant Raffel added a 74. Sophomore Sam Niethammer shot 77, sophomore Patrick Fuery had an 81 and freshman Alex Hwang wrapped up the scoring with an 82.
"Yesterday's scores were great for the conditions they played in -- 20-30 mph gusts, rain for the last six holes," said Paly coach Doyle Knight. "We play Gunn when we come back from spring break — they are undefeated also — that will determine who wins our division. But, our big test will be league finals."
Menlo junior Andrew Buchanan and Sacred Heart Prep senior Kevin Knox tied for medalist honors as each shot even-par 72.
Buchanan started slowly and was 3-over after five holes, but battled through the steady rain and was a remarkable 4-under over the final seven holes to get back to even par.
Gunn was led by Anna Zhou's 78 with Anson Cheng (79) and Jack Jaffe (79) just a stroke behind. Avinash Sharma checked in with an 80 but Jayshree Sarathy's 87 knocked the Titans out of a possible second-place finish.
For Menlo, which is unbeaten in the West Bay Athletic League, Will Petit was just a few strokes over par before succumbing to wet grips on the final four holes. He finished with a 79. Jackson Dean (80), Ethan Wong (83) and James Huber (91) rounded out the Knights' effort.
Menlo bounced back from its tournament finish and improved to 6-0 in the WBAL with a 200-209 win over Harker at Palo Alto Hills on Wednesday. Buchanan tied for medalist honors with a 1-over-par 36 while making three birdies on the day. Wong and Dean each shot 39.
After outscoring host Half Moon Bay, 16-11, on Monday in nonleague action, Gunn returned home to face the Vikings of Lynbrook on Tuesday and overcame a rainy afternoon to post a 6-2 victory.
Despite hosting the game, Gunn (5-2, 9-5) was the visiting team as Lynbrook's field is under renovation. In the top of the third, Gunn loaded the bases with out. Ryan Teranishi had an RBI walk, and Kevin Sharp had an RBI groundout. In the top of the fifth, with two runs already in, Gunn senior Graham Fisher hit his second homer in as many days — his fourth of the season — with Sharp aboard, to push the Titans' lead to 6-1.
Senior center fielder Jake Verhulp had two hits on the day, scoring once. Senior David Oyer had his best day this season with two hits, including one run scored, but unfortunately sprained his ankle trying to stretch a single into a double. Junior Chris Rea also had two hits, including a double. Fisher also had a double to close out his two-hit day.
Rea threw his second complete-game win in a row. Rea was around the strike zone on every pitch, and didn't let five errors behind him take any toll, giving up two runs (one earned) on four singles while improving to 2-1.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto and Los Altos remained on a collision course to possibly decide the regular season title in the final week of the season.
PaloAlto (6-1-1, 12-2-1) remained in a virtual tie for first place following a 4-0 victory over visiting Los Gatos on Wednesday while Los Altos (6-1, 12-2) defeated Wilcox in 10 innings, 6-5. The Vikings and Eagles will meet on April 25 and 27 to decide the division title, barring upsets along the way.
Kevin Kannappan pitched 6 2/3 innings of five-hit ball to get the win for Paly, which scored single runs in the first three innings as Clay Carey, John Dickerson and Christian Lonsky all drove in runs.
In the PAL Bay Division, a two-run double by Sam Falkenhagen in the fifth inning wrapped up a 6-0 victory over Capuchino for host Menlo-Atherton on Wednesday. Ryan Cortez pitched a complete-game two-hitter and received added offensive support from Dylan Cook, who had three hits and an RBI. The Bears (2-1, 8-3) will complete their home-and-home series with the Mustangs on the road Friday.
In the WBAL, host Sacred Heart Prep (2-0, 10-3-1) got two hits and three RBI from Hank Robson in a 9-0 romp over Pinewood on Wednesday. Jack Larson and Tyler VauDell combined on a two-hitter for the Gators.
Palo Alto overcame the rain and visiting Menlo-Atherton to post a 15-10 victory in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Tuesday night. Despite the downpour and soggy turf, the Vikings' offense played their most inspired and creative game this season to earn a key victory. Menlo-Atherton, which didn't lose to Palo Alto last year, fell to 3-3 in divisional play (7-4 overall), while the Vikings improved to 2-1 (5-3 overall).
Paly junior Skyler Anderson led his team with an impressive five-goal, two- assist game, although solid team play meant seven other Vikings also scored, and 13 of their 15 goals earned assists. Senior Matt Lam won 15 of 24 face-offs and had two goals and two assists. Junior Jonny Glazier and sophomore William Hare also scored two goals each for Paly.
Menlo-Atherton actually won the ground-ball battle, 33-28, but errant passes caused 11 turnovers that repeatedly gave the Vikings back possession. After Palo Alto scored the first two goals, the Bears fought back to a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter. A brief 5-4 M-A lead was overcome when the Vikings scored five straight for a 9-5 halftime lead. They also led by four at the end of the third quarter, 12-8.
In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep saw its unbeaten season end as visiting Marin Academy raced to an early lead and posted an 11-7 nonleague victory on a rainy, windy Tuesday afternoon.
Marin Academy (5-2) grabbed a 9-3 halftime lead as the Gators fell to 7-1 overall, while still remaining unbeaten in the SCVAL De Anza Division. Frankie Hattler, Duncan Hoskinson and Noah Kawasaki all scored twice for SHP, with Hattler adding two assists and freshman goalie Austin Appleton making 11 saves.
Nina Kelty scored four goals with Kimmie Flather and Charlotte Biffar adding three goals and two assists each to pace Palo Alto to a 12-9 victory over host Los Gatos in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Wednesday night. The Vikings remained atop the division at 5-0 (7-2 overall) by grabbing a 7-3 halftime lead before the Wildcats tied it at 9. Emy Kelty intercepted a Los Gatos pass and finished the play with a goal, giving Paly a 10-9 lead it wouldn't relinquish. Biffar and Flather finished the scoring.
On Tuesday, Menlo-Atherton defeated Sacred Heart Prep for the first time in three years, posting a 14-10 triumph in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action in a driving rainstorm.
The Bears (2-1, 3-2) jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the Gators (1-2, 5-3) rallied with five straight goals, two each from Isabelle Thompson and Caroline Cummings. Following a timeout, the Bears regrouped and scored four straight times to take a 7-6 halftime lead.
Due to penalties, M-A was a player down the final 10 minutes but held on as Meredith Geagan-Breiner controlled the midfield and the Bears went on a 5-1 run to secure the long-awaited victory.
M-A junior goalie Neeka Nazhand had nine saves to keep the Bears in the match while Becca Higgitt and Emily Carlson led the scoring with four and three goals, respectively. Cummings led the Gators with four goals.
In another WBAL Foothill Division match, Menlo School held on to first place with a 21-7 romp over visiting Castilleja, also played in a steady downpour. The Knights improved to 3-0 (4-4 overall) while the Gators fell to 1-2 (5-2).
Menlo grabbed a 15-4 halftime lead and was led by junior Michaela Michael with nine goals and one assist for a season-high 10 points, a team record. Ali Kim added three goals while Brooke Bullington and Kaitlin Frangione each added two goals and two assists.
Michael leads the league with 59 points (51 goals and eight assists) and ranks among the nation's best in points and goals. She's averaging six goals and one assist per outing.
Palo Alto's young team won its first game in the SCVAL De Anza Division, a 12-2 win over host Fremont on Wednesday. Sophomore pitcher Julia Saul struck out eight and allowed two hits. Sophomore Hannah Bundy went 3-for-3 with two doubles and scored three runs. Junior Maya Padilla had three hits and two RBI.
In the WBAL, Frances Hughes had three hits and drove in four runs with Annie Apffel driving in three runs on three hits to pace the Castilleja softball team to a 13-2 win over host King's Academy on Wednesday. Aryana Yee (4-4) picked up the victory as the Gators improved to 4-6.
On Tuesday, Menlo-Atherton won its first game in the PAL Ocean Division, an 8-4 triumph over visiting San Mateo in a game shortened to five innings by the rain. The Bears (1-2, 6-6) got a complete game four-hitter from Emily Katz, who helped herself with a hit and RBI.
Katie Vallarino and Shannon Aguiar each drove in three runs on two hits, with Aguiar's big hit a bases-loaded triple. Erin LaPorte also had two hits for M-A.
Menlo Schoolkept its win streak alive with a 6-1 nonleague victory over host Bellarmine on Wednesday at the Decathlon Club in Santa Clara. The Knights improved to 15-0 in their final big test before the postseason.
Menlo junior Andrew Ball had a stellar performance with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Trevor James at No. 1 singles. Richard Pham took a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles for the Knights.
"An incredible match by Andrew," Menlo coach Bill Shine said. "He and Richard Pham really played well."