It won't be about winning team titles when the Gunn and Palo Alto track and field teams take to the track at Los Gatos High on Thursday for the SCVAL De Anza Division championships at Los Gatos High. Mountain View looks to be heavily favored in both the boys' and girls' meets.
Field events begin at 2:30 p.m., with running events starting at 2:45 p.m. The final 1,600 relays are set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
"We've got an outside chance," said Paly coach Jason Fung of his boys' team. "It all depends on what Mountain View does. They have point-getters in every event. They should win it. We'd have to win the meet and have Mountain View finish third, and that would only get us a co-championship . . . We have the bodies (for first-place points) but we don't have the depth."
Gunn coach Ernie Lee also is resigned to the obvious, that Mountain View's boys and girls have too many potential winners and too much depth.
"We have a shot at winning JV girls, but other than that Mountain View looks too strong," said Lee. "We will be trying for second places in other divisions, and those will be close."
The focus for Gunn and Paly, then, will be winning showdowns and defending titles. Putting forth those kinds of individual efforts should help the Titans and Vikings advance their best athletes to the next stage on the road to the CIF State Meet in June.
Gunn senior Charles Chisom, for example, is the defending league champion in both the 100 and 200 meters. He ran 11.28 and 22.62, respectively, last season. He'll likely have to run faster than that to hold off Palo Alto's Daniel Jones in the 100 and both Jones and Paly teammate Paul Brown in the 200.
Chisom (11.42) and Jones (11.45) qualified one-two during Tuesday's trials in the 100 with Chisom (22.77), Jones (23.12) and Brown (23.58) finishing in that order to lead the 200 field.
Brown, meanwhile, has the third-fastest 400 time (50.74) and qualified second in 51.46 during the trials.
One of the best head-to-head matchups will be in the boys' 3,200 where Palo Alto junior Philip MacQuitty and Mountain View junior Garrett Rowe will battle. MacQuitty ranks No. 2 in the Central Coast Section with a 9:16.59 while Rowe has the No. 5 time of 9:22.07. Those are the No. 1 and 2 times in the league. MacQuitty was fourth in the 3,200 last season in a race that Rowe didn't run. Both competed in the 1,600 with MacQuitty taking second and Rowe sixth.
MacQuitty is passing on the metric mile on Thursday in order to concentrate on the 3,200 for the remainder of the season.
"I could have him double," said Fung, "but that's what he wants to do."
Palo Alto's 400 relay is unbeaten in league this season and is motivated by the fact it took second last season to Los Gatos. If the Vikings can make good exchanges, that race should be theirs. Paly also can put together a decent 1,600 relay squad, has veteran experience in Bobby Holman in the long jump but not the kind of versatility it had last season with the multi-talented Mike Scott, who won the triple jump, took second in the long jump and finished third in the high jump.
Speaking of the high jump, Gunn senior Marcus Anderson recently cleared a personal best of 6-4, which is the top mark going in. The Titans have Kazzie Hill in the long and triple jumps plus junior Paul Summers in the distances.
The 800 up to the 3,200 will also be solid for the Gunn girls, along with all the events that junior Sunny Margerum competes in. Margerum won the 100 hurdles and long jump last season and finished second in the 300 hurdles. She could win all three events -- she leads the league in all three -- and challenge for first place in the 100, as well.
Gunn senior Allie Mayer is back to defend her title in the 3,200, where she ranks seventh in the CCS. She'll go in the 1,600, where she finished second to Mountain View's Mary Reynolds last season. Reynolds is back and has faster times than Mayer in both distance races.
Gunn also has some talented freshmen in 800 runner Kieran Gallagher and high jumper Julia Maggioncalda and potential distance points from sophomore Emma Dohner and junior Lisa Fawcett.
Some future distance standouts for Gunn showed up in the girls' JV 3,200 final on Tuesday as junior Rachel Wittenauer broke the meet and school (JV) record with a winning time of 11:53.65. Freshman Liza Marinaro was second in 12:04.13 and senior Tara Saxena third in 12:07.04 as all three eclipsed the previous meet mark.
The Paly varsity girls, meanwhile, will rely on sprinters like juniors Emily Yeates and Erika Hoglund plus the 400 relay. Hoglund also should score some points in the horizontal jumps.