Youth isn't holding back M-A girls' cross-country
Bears run off with a PAL meet title despite having four freshmen in the lineup this week
Menlo-Atherton cross-country coach Eric Wilmurt has had some pretty good boys' teams over the years. In fact, the Bears are ranked No. 8 in the Central Coast Section this season.
To make a good situation even better, the M-A girls are catching up to the boys. They, too, are ranked No. 8 in the CCS this week.
"I'm trying to pretend it's business as usual and not jump the gun with the girls," said Wilmurt, who seems to have an excess of talent this season. "We have had some fast boys teams in the last four years, along with a lot of boys. They ended up breaking our school-record team score at Crystal Springs last season, too. And now, little sisters are out for the team."
M-A senior George Baier, for example, has his sister, freshman Madeleine, also out running for the Bears — on varsity.
Madeleine was one of four freshmen in the lineup on Tuesday as the M-A girls ran off with the team title at the second Peninsula Athletic League meet of the season on Tuesday at Westmoor High in San Bruno. The Bears finished with 62 points to hold off runner-up Aragon by 20 points.
M-A junior Taylor Fortnam led the way with a second-place finish of 15:11 over the 2.4-mile course with freshman teammates Annalise Crowe (15:44) and Maddie Worden (15:46) finishing seventh and ninth, respectively. Katie Beebe, yet another freshman, ran home 21st overall in 16:40 while Baier finished 23rd in 16:42.
"We were anticipating a pretty good girls' team this fall with Fortnam, (junior) Annika Roise (who has a sprained ankle) and three or four sophomore girls who were in shape and ready to run varsity for us. But, these fast frosh girls decided they wanted to run cross country. I knew we might get Analisa Crowe, because her brother was on the team last year. But, along came Katie Beebe, Maddie Worden . . they're young and new to cross country. It would be nice if they can get a state meet berth their first time out and, at this rate, it is a possibility."
Only three other D-1 teams are ahead of the M-A girls in the latest CCS rankings — Monta Vista, Salinas and Homestead.
In the varsity boys' race, Menlo-Atherton (85 points) finished behind Carlmont (20) and Half Moon Bay (70). Senior John Lovegren led the Bears with a 12:55 clocking while taking seventh. Junior Zach Plante was 11th in 13:08, senior Alex Aguiar was 16th in 13:37, junior Eric Snyder finished 23rd in 13:51 and sophomore Adam Scandlyn was 28th in 14:00.
At the SCVAL Preview meet at Crystal Springs, Palo Alto won the senior girls' race with 56 points as Nora Rosati led the way with a fourth-place finish of 19:49.2 over the 2.95-mile layout. Chika Kasahara was sixth for the Vikings in 19:54.5 with Shaheen Essabhoy clocking 21:11.9 for 12th.
Palo Alto also won the senior boys' race with 66 points as the Vikings put five runners among the top 25, led by Ben Hawthorne's 13th-place finish of 17:22.2.
Palo Alto won the freshman girls' race with 38 points as five Vikings finished among the top 14 with Emma Raney leading the way in 21:06.1. Gunn was second in the team race with Gillian Meeks taking third overall in 19:47.6.
Palo Alto captured the sophomore boys' race with 82 points as Nate Cook took sixth in 17:12.6. Gunn was fourth as David Lee-Heidenreich came home seventh in 17:232.8.
In the junior girls' race, Gunn's Eliana Ribbe was second in 20:21.0 and Paly's Audrey DeBruine was third in 21:04.8.
In the sophomore girls' race, Paly's Katie Foug finished fifth overall in 20:43.1 to help the Vikings take second as a team.
Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep will risk their 5-0 marks to highlight Friday's action.
The Knights hope to celebrate their homecoming with a sixth straight when they host South San Francisco in a key PAL Ocean Division game at 3 p.m.
Menlo is averaging 52.2 points a game and will be tested by SSF's tough defense. A victory should open the door to a possible division crown for the Knights.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, will be tested in the PAL Bay Division by host Terra Nova at 7 p.m. The Tigers ended the Gators' four-game win streak to start last season. SHP has allowed only nine points in five games, most likely the best mark in Northern California thus far.
In another important game, Palo Alto (1-1, 3-2) visits Wilcox (1-1, 3-2) and needs a victory to stay close to SCVAL De Anza Division co-leaders Milpitas (2-0, 4-1) and Los Gatos (2-0, 3-2).
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (1-0, 3-2) will host Burlingame (0-1, 2-3) in a homecoming game at 7 p.m.
In the MTAL, Priory (4-0) and visiting Trinity Christian (Monterey) will match explosive offenses at 3 p.m. Each team is averaging more than 50 points a game.
In games last week:
Sacred Heart' Prep's stubborn defense sacked Burlingame quarterbacks five times and allowed only 167 total yards to lead the host Gators to a 10-0 win in a PAL Bay Division football opener. Senior quarterback Kevin Donahoe ran for a 14-yard touchdown and Kevin Spillane kicked a 25-yard field goal.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto poured it on early and ran away with a 55-14 win over host Homestead. Senior running back Matt Tolbert rushed for three touchdowns in the first half to give Paly a 35-7 lead.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Menlo posted a 43-12 win over host Woodside as junior quarterback Jack Heneghan completed 16 of 23 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. He also had nine carries for 106 yards while compiling 401 yards of total offense.
carries for 106 yards.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn (2-0, 4-2) used an outstanding offensive effort by Sean Lydster as they defeated a pesky Harker squad in Campbell, 49-21. Lydster scored on touchdown runs of 38, 35, one and 18 yards along with a 43-yard TD on a screen pass as the Titans' offense ran unchecked against the undersized Harker squad. In addition to Lydster's scores, the Titans got a 30-yard touchdown run from Marcus Moreno-Ramos and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Andre Guzman to Wade Barry.
Ina the PAL Bay Division, M-A opened league play in a big way by handing visiting Aragon its first loss of the season, 28-23. M-A quarterback Royce Branning completed all six passes he attempted in the second quarter for 165 yards and two touchdowns, one score a 72-yarder to Evan Perkins. Lineman Enzo Santos returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter to give the Bears a 28-17 lead.
In eight-man action, Pinewood scored first, but Priory made up for that in a hurry by rolling to a 46-24 triumph in a Mission Trails Athletic League game. Priory came up big defensively as Will Latta intercepted three passes, returning one 32 yards for a touchdowns. He also had a fumble recovery, made five tackles and had a pair of pass deflections as the Panthers improved to 2-0 in league (4-1 overall).
Latta also did the job on offense, scoring from one-yard out on a quarterback sneak in addition to hauling in a 37-yard pass while playing receiver. Latta's twin brother, Tom, also helped out with a 17-yard interception return for another score.
James McDaniel paced the Priory offense with 114 yards rushing on 20 carries and touchdown runs of four, 20 and 11 yards. Matt Schwab helped spark the defensive effort with 12 tackles, three of them sacks.
Castilleja remained unbeaten and atop the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) standings with a 213-282 win over host Notre Dame-San Jose at San Jose Municipal on Tuesday.
Sophomore Chloe Sales was the medalist with a 2-over 38 while senior Taylor Wilkerson was just a stroke back. Nicki Mitchell (42), Paris Wilkerson (45) and Ellie Zales (49) rounded out the scoring for the Gators (5-0, 6-0).
At Poplar Creek in San Mateo, Sacred Heart Prep helped Castilleja move into sole possession of first place by upsetting previously unbeaten Harker, 241-247. Emma Dake (43), Jessica Koenig (44) and Maddy Ellison (49) helped the Gators (5-3, 6-5) hand the Eagles their first WBAL loss.
Menlo School has reached the halfway point in the WBAL (Foothill Division) season and to no one's surprise, the Knights are unbeaten and sitting atop the standings once again.
Menlo improved to 5-0 in league (10-7 overall) with a 7-0 win over visiting Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday. The only drama came at No. 1 singles where Menlo's Liz Yao battled for a 3-6, 7-5, 10-8 victory over Caroline Nordman.
The Knights won all the remaining matches in straight sets while stretching their winning streak in league matches to 193 straight since 1994.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn held on to first place with a 6-1 triumph over host Los Gatos on Tuesday. The Titans (8-0, 10-7) took the top three singles matches as Alice Li, Stephanie Zhang and Laurie Perng all won in straight sets.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (3-5, 11-7) handed visiting Mountain View a 5-2 loss as Aashli Budhiraja, Felicia Wang, Sammy Solomon and Katy Abbott swept the singles. Solomon had to go three sets for her win.
On Wednesday, Paly posted a 4-3 victory over host Carlmont, the No. 1 team from the PAL Bay Division. The Vikings had to sweep the doubles for the triumph. Tiffany Nguyen and Julianne Le won in three sets, as did the tandem of Madeline Lee and Kelsey Wang.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained just a game out of first place following a 6-1 win over host Aragon. The Bears (9-1, 11-4) weer led by Erin LaPorte, Samantha Andrew, Maria Londono Tobon and Lindy LaPlante in singles. All won in straight sets.
Menlo School senior Andrew Ball will not be following his older brother, Jamin, to Stanford University and continue his tennis career with the Cardinal.
Andrew Ball will be wearing red next season, but it will be the Crimson of Harvard University.
Ball made that commitment recently, deciding to follow in his father's footsteps instead.
Ball, a top-ranked junior in Northern California, has led Menlo to three Central Coast Section titles, three NorCal championships and two national tournament crowns in his first three years with the Knights.
During his time at Menlo, Ball has helped the Knights compile a dual-match record of 83-1. It's the best three-year record in school history.