Gunn races to cross-country titles in pre-league meet tuneup

Titans sweep top spots at Palo Alto City Championships in cross country

By Keith Peters

Palo Alto Online Sports

The Gunn girls' cross-country team made its final tuneup before next week's SCVAL Championships a good one as the Titans ran away with team and individual honors at the annual Palo Alto City Championships on Tuesday at Bol Park.

With senior Erin Robinson clocking 12:16 over the 2.18-mile course for the No. 3 all-time mark, Gunn totaled 16 points while racing away from Palo Alto (43) and Castilleja (incomplete).

Robinson was followed by her sister, freshman Sarah, in 12:35. That's the No. 7 all-time mark on the course. Castilleja senior Rachel Skokowski broke up a near Gunn sweep by taking third in 12:41, No. 12 on the all-time list. She missed moving into the top 10 by just one second.

Gunn wrapped things up with junior Kieran Gallagher finishing fourth in 12:47 (she ran 12:39 last season), senior Emma Dohner taking fifth in 13:07 and sophomore Melia Dunbar finishing seventh in 13:24.

Palo Alto senior Susan Heinselman also helped break up Gunn's dominance with a sixth-place finish of 12:18. Gunn wound up placing seven runners among the top 13.

In the boys' race, Gunn was even more dominant by placing eight runners among the first nine finishers. Andrew Prior led the way in 10:57, the No. 17 all-time mark. Teammate Rory Runser was second in 11:05 while Peter Chen secured a 1-2-3 finish by the Titans with a 11:08 clocking.

Nikolai Solgaard broke up Gunn's dominance with a fourth-place finish of 11:25. Gunn's Daniel Krigel (11:25) and Michael Underwood (11:35) finished the scoring in fifth and sixth, respectively.

The Gunn and Palo Alto boys and girls will seek to qualify for Central Coast Section team and individual berths on Tuesday at the SCVAL Championships at Crystal Springs at 3 p.m.

The Los Altos boys are favored for team honors with Mountain View second and Gunn among the contenders for third. In the girls' race, Mountain View remains the favorite while Gunn should nab the No. 2 spot and a CCS berth. The Palo Alto girls will be among those battling for third.

The PAL Championships will be held on Thursday, Nov. 4, also at Crystal Springs. Carlmont now looks to be the prohibitive favorite, after the Scots finished ahead of Menlo-Atherton at last weekend's Mt. SAC Invitational in Walnut.

In one of many varsity races, Carlmont finished fourth while M-A took sixth on the 3.0-mile layout. More telling was the fact the Scots had their top five finish ahead of the Bears' opposing runners at each position. Michael Hester was M-A's top finisher in 29th place (16:00) while teammate Jack Beckwith was 31st in 16:03. Carlmont's top two runners, however, finished 17th and 31st.

Girls' golf

Menlo-Atherton sophomore Xin Fang shot a 9-over-par 80 to win individual honors at the PAL Championships on Tuesday at Poplar Creek Golf Course in San Mateo. Fang won by a whopping 20 strokes over teammate Tiffany Yang.

Fang finished third last season with a 96 after incurring a two-stroke penalty. She was the only individual to qualify for the CCS championships, set for next Tuesday at Rancho Canada East in Carmel Valley.

Fang shot 41-39 on her title-winning round, helping the Bears finish third in the team race.

Girls' tennis

Menlo School moved to within a victory of clinching its 17th straight league title with a 7-0 victory over host Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action.

The Knights (8-0, 15-5) goes after the title on Wednesday at Notre Dame-San Jose, and are expected to win easily. Menlo will host second-place Harker (6-2) on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., with a victory giving the Knights a 178-0 record in dual-match league play since 1994.

Against Sacred Heart Prep, all went according to form for Menlo, even though sophomore Giannina Ong was extended at No. 1 singles before pulling out a 6-2, 5-7, 11-9 victory. Kristy Jorgensen, Christine Eliazo and Laura Gradiska lost only a combined eight games while sweeping the remaining singles matches.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton wrapped up its regular season with a 4-3 victory over host San Mateo, clinching second place. The Bears (9-3, 11-5) had their hands full with the Bearcats' revamped lineup. The match was tied at 3 before M-A's No. 2 doubles tandem of Siena Roat-Shumway and Lindy LaPlante rallied from a first-set loss for a 5-7, 6-0, 6-0 victory to clinch the win.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto (4-7, 9-8) defeated rival Gunn (3-8, 8-13) for the second time this season, this time a 5-2 decision. The victory allowed the Vikings to remain ahead of the Titans with one match remaining in the regular season for each team.

Boys' water polo

Getting four goals from senior captain Ken Wattana, Palo Alto held off visiting Mountain View on Tuesday, 12-9, in SCVAL De Anza Division action.

The Vikings bounced back from a 5-3 deficit in the first quarter and outscored the Spartans 8-2 over the second and third periods to pull away. Daniel Armitano had seven saves in goal for Paly while Aaron Zelinger tossed in three goals. The Vikings made 12 of 29 shot attempts while converting five of six 6-on-5 situations, while holding Mountain View to just 1-of-6.

Wattana and Zelinger are tied for the team scoring lead with 26 goals this season, while Bret Pinsker has 24. He tallied twice on Tuesday.

Palo Alto will host Gunn on Thursday on Senior Day at 5:30 p.m. The Titans tuned up with an 18-12 victory over visiting Homestead on Tuesday as Ben Hendricks tallied nine goals for the Titans.

Girls' water polo

Gunn closed out its home schedule for the regular season with a 15-3 swamping of Homestead on Tuesday. On Senior Day, seniors Shelby Newman and Emily Watkins each tallied two goals. Junior Elizabeth Anderson led the way with six goals for the Titans (9-2, 19-3).

Results of the Mountain View at Palo Alto match were not reported.

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