By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
It started with a meet record of 43.06 in the opening 400 relay and by the time the long day was over, the Palo Alto boys' track and field team had itself a co-championship in the SCVAL De Anza Division.
"That's always a good sign, when a relay team does well," said Paly coach Jason Fung.
Fung had hoped for an overall league title, but needed Los Altos to finish ahead of dual-meet champ Mountain View to pull that off. It almost happened, but the Spartans outscored the Eagles (86-82) to force a co-championship.
"Winning is winning," said Fung. "I'm very happy with how everyone did, in all divisions. A lot of people PR'd today."
The 400 relay started it off with Tremaine Kirkman, Maurice Williams, Morris Gates-Mouton and Miles Anderson running a season best that moved the Vikings to No. 3 in the Central Coast Section this season.
All four would return to help score a bundle of points.
Williams, a senior who showed off his speed in the fall while helping the Paly football team win a state championship, ran a wind-legal best of 10.85 to win the 100 and take the CCS lead. Kirkman was third (11.11) and Anderson fourth (11.13).
Williams also won the triple jump by just 1 1/2 inches at 43-5 1/2 on his final attempt final attempt. It was his first competition of the season in the event. He also finished fourth in the long jump at 20-5 1/2.
"Getting that triple jump from Maurice was huge," Fung said, "but him winning was even better."
Kirkman added a third (22.91) and Anderson a seventh place (23.63) in the 200, which was won by Paly sophomore E.J. Floreal.
Best known for his exploits on the basketball court, Floreal is participating in only his first season of track and has made quite an impact.
In won the 200 in a season-best 22.19 to move among the CCS leaders. Earlier, he pulled away to win the 400 title in 50.11, another season best that also moved him among the CCS leaders.
In each race, Floreal beat a Mountain View runner to eventually help the Vikings claim their first league co-title since 2008. Floreal also showed his inexperience in each race as he started slow and didn't really move until challenged. He acknowledged that his 400 should have been under 50 seconds and his 200 should have dipped under 22.00 but that he got off to a slow start and didn't turn on the speed until seeing Mountain View's Tyler Haslsted (second in 22.29) overtake him coming off the turn.
Floreal also anchored the 1,600 relay to victory in a season best of 3:31.16. Gates Mouton, Lucas Brooks and Rashid Syverain kept it close for the 6-foot-3 Floreal, whose long strides helped him pull away to a comfortable win.
Paly senior Grant Sauer added points to the victory by taking second in the 110 high hurdles in a personal best of 14.78, ranking No. 2 in the CCS behind Markell Stine of Los Altos. Stine took the CCS lead with his fast 14.64. Both Stine and Sauer improved by more than a full second over last year's league meet times.
Paly sophomore Victor Du added 22 points with a victory in the high jump (6-2), a third in the long jump (21-3) and a third in the triple jump (42-1 1/4). Paly junior Nikolai Solgaard grabbed an important second in the 800 in 2:00.54 while Kevin Anderson finished second in the shot put at 46-3 1/4.
Gunn finished sixth like it did last season but scored more points (40) while picking up two victories. Senior Cody Carefoot pulled off a mild surprised by winning the shot put with a season best of 47-9 1/2 and junior Andrew Prior helped Paly's title hopes by beating three top competitors -- Grant Foster and Will Geiken of Los Gatos and Parker Schuh of Mountain View -- in the 1,600.
Prior waited patiently until the final turn, when he overtook Foster to win in 4:20.67 for his first league title. Prior competed in the frosh-soph division at the league meet last season and ran a then-PR of 4:53.01 while finishing ninth. Since then he has improved by more than 30 seconds.
"This year he basically got into it," said Gunn coach Matt Tompkins. "He had a few injuries, but got really consistent. I don't think he knew how fast he was or that he had the ability to run fast. We were pleasantly surprised."
Prior, who had a solid season in cross country, had only one workout in the past 10 days to help him heal his most recent injury. That workout was Monday. He actually went 10 days without running at one point.
Prior's result, which ranks him among the top five in school history, shows his future in the event.
Palo Alto won the frosh-soph title with 143 points with Gunn sixth with 41.