By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Gunn boys and girls duplicated their cross-country finishes of a season ago and advanced to the Central Coast Section Championships following second-place finishes at the SCVAL El Camino Division finals on Tuesday on an unseasonably warm day at Crystal Springs in Belmont.
The Gunn girls had senior Erin Robinson finish second (18:22) and her freshman sister Sarah take third (19:08) over the hilly 2.95-mile course, but it wasn't enough to overcame a deep Mountain View team that finished 1-5-6-7-12 to defend its title with 31 points. The Titans totaled 52 points (better than last year's 61), despite losing senior Emma Dohner mid-race due to heat exhaustion.
Gunn coach Ernie Lee said he hoped that Dohner would have finished seventh or eighth and that junior Kieran Gallagher would have taken fourth. Gallagher, however, also struggled with the heat that reached 83 degrees and finished 14th in 20:36. Gunn's fourth scorer wound up being junior Melia Dunbar, 15th in 20:44, while senior Rachel Bent, normally the team's No. 6 runner, capped the scoring in 18th (21:11).
The Gunn girls nonetheless advanced to the CCS Championships on Nov. 13 at Toro Park in Salinas. Joining them will be the Gunn boys and Paly girls.
The Gunn boys had the same score (56) as last year and placed three among the top 15, just like last season. All three Titans, however, were new among the leaders. Junior Andrew Prior finished fifth in 16:15, senior Rory Runser was sixth in 16:21 and junior Peter Chen took 10th in 16:51. Rounding out the Gunn scoring was junior Daniel Krigel in 16th (17:16) and junior Michael Underwood in 19th (17:30).
Gunn finished ahead of defending champion Mountain View (third with 69), which dropped one of its top scorers into the frosh-soph race. Los Altos won its first division title (42 points) in the five-year career of head coach PattiSue Plumer, the former Stanford All-American and U.S. Olympian. The Eagles had six runners among the top 13 finishers.
The Palo Alto girls were a strong third with nearly the same score (78) as last season (77). Senior Susan Heinselman led the way in 10th (20:07) with sophomore Chika Kasahara right on her heels in 11th in 20:12. Senior Gracie Cain raced home 16th (21:00) while senior Leigh Dairaghi (19th in 21:12) and junior Lydia Guo (22nd in 21:36) rounded out the Paly scoring.
The Paly boys finished fifth and did not qualify as a team for CCS, but junior Nikolai Solgaard (14th in 17:06) and junior Corso Rosati (24th in 17:51) earned individual berths for the CCS finals.