by Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
It has been a big two weeks for Palo Alto High senior Philip MacQuitty, who is starting to wonder about which track event to concentrate on now that excels in a number of them.
MacQuitty was considered primarily a 3,200 specialist in track and field until last weekend when he ran a national-leading 1:52.37 in the 800 meters. He added another weapon to his distance arsenal on Saturday at the annual Stanford Invitational at Cobb Track & Angell Field.
Running in the fastest heat of the boys' mile, MacQuitty used his new-found speed for a 57-second final lap and raced away to victory in 4:13.92. The time is the fastest in the state this season and broke a Paly school record that had stood since 1966.
"It gives me confidence," MacQuitty said of the time. "I know I can compete with almost anyone in the nation."
MacQuitty's time eclipsed the Paly mile record of 4:15.4 by Jon Enscoe at the 1966 CIF State Meet. When converted to 1,600 meters, MacQuitty's time of 4:12.45 gives him the state lead. Enscoe's mile time converted to the 1600 is 4:13.92.
The previous 2010 state best for the 1,600 was 4:18.07 by Conor Stanton of Servite.
A handful of other runners, however, surpassed that previous leader, as well. Erik Olson of Novato was second to MacQuitty in 4:14.30. Jason Vilhauer of Redwood (Visalia) won the second heat of the mile in 4:14.18. In fact, the top five marks in the state came from Saturday's races at Stanford.
MacQuitty went into the race with the goal of beating Olson, who will run for Stanford next fall while MacQuitty will wear a UCLA uniform, and breaking the school record.
"Obviously, it's a big thing for me," MacQuitty said. "It's nice to beat someone with a big name."
MacQuitty accomplished both despite being spiked on his left shin while running on Paly's distance medley relay team that finished fourth on Friday. MacQuitty said the spiking didn't affect his race Saturday, even though the ugly marks were clearly evident just above his ankle.
"I felt pretty good," he said about Saturday's race, hoping to run even faster. "I was going for a sub-4:10."
That goal disappeared after the pack went through the first 880 in 2:11. At that point, MacQuitty just hung with the leaders before bursting off the final turn and holding off a sprinting Olson at the finish.
"I knew I had the speed that I hadn't had before," said MacQuitty, who proved that with his national-leading 800 last weekend. "My workouts are much harder. I knew it would be a breakthrough year . . . I have a lot of range now."
MacQuitty's immediate focus will be on the upcoming Arcadia Invitational, where he may run the mile again. Or, he could go in the 800 or 3,200. So many decisions now. Since he holds the school record in the 800 and mile (1,600), the last remaining mark is the 8:59.51 listed in the Paly record book by Mike McCollom (1981).
The real goal, MacQuitty said, is to discover which event is now best for him.
"I want to see what I'm really good at," he said, "and stay healthy."
MacQuitty hasn't been this fit since his freshman year, when trained barely 20 miles a week. While it kept his legs fresh, he didn't have the base for consistency fast times over a long period of the season. Now, Paly boys' coaches Joe Ginanni and John Welsh have MacQuitty closer to 50 miles a week.
"I'm definitely doing way harder workouts," he said. "My legs aren't as fresh but I have a stronger base. It's all about finding a balance."
Now that he has discovered success in the 800 and 1,600/mile, MacQuitty might even try to reach the state meet in both. Or, maybe just fall back to the 3,200. He has plenty of options now.
Gunn senior Sunny Margerum has plenty of options, as well. She can run the sprints and hurdles and long jump. On Friday she did the latter and won the girls' event with a leap of 18 feet. Her season best is 18-2, set in a practice meet with Aragon. That ranks her No. 2 in the state this season, behind Mariah Rogers of Prospect (18-3).
No wind gauges were present for those jumps, however, so Rogers' 18-1 and Margerum's 18-0 are ranked by DyeStatCal.com as the state-leading marks.
MacQuitty, meanwhile, lost his national lead in the 800 on Saturday when Sean Krinik of Valencia ran 1:50.16 at the Distance Meet of Champions in Southern California. That race produced the nation's No. 1 and 2 times. MacQuitty now ranks No. 3 in both the state and nation.
Also at Stanford, eighth-grader Maddy Price of Menlo School won the girls' middle school 100 meters in 12.75.