By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
After struggling with football injuries during his high school career, Palo Alto senior Miles Anderson finally is getting a chance to perform at an elite level. That opportunity arrives Friday when Anderson and four teammates compete in the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Anderson, who missed playing in the state championship football game in the fall due to injury, nearly saw his chance of anchoring the 400 relay team in the state prelims ripped away by a weightlifting accident on Wednesday.
Just before finishing his final rep, a pin in the equipment slipped and his right hand was pinched. Anderson lost a fingernail and some skin on one finger and Paly coach Jason Fung feared the worst -- that Anderson had lost more of the finger.
But, Fung said on Thursday, "It's not as bad as we expected. He's fine. I went by his house on Wednesday night and he was in good spirits. Morphine does wonders for you.
"He wants to run. Once the adrenaline hits, he should be fine."
Anderson runs anchor on the fastest 400 relay team in school history. The injury is to his right hand, which won't affect the final relay handoff since he takes the baton in his left hand.
The Vikings' team of junior Tremaine Kirkman, senior Maurice Williams, junior Morris Gates-Mouton and Anderson broke a 31-year-old school record of 42.74 by clocking a 42.07 at last Friday's Central Coast Section championships at Gilroy High.
"We have been looking to beat the school mark and we think we can do even better," Williams said.
"It's something that keeps us working hard."
Anderson said the group wants to break into the 41s and gain some revenge on Gilroy and Bellarmine, who finished ahead of the Vikings.
"All three teams that placed broke school records," said Fung. Gilroy won in 41.77 with Bellarmine second in 41.99.
"I thought we could have beaten Bellarmine," Fung said. "We could have gone faster. The first handoff was botched. That's usually our best handoff."
Kirkman reinforced that notion, saying the team works particularly hard at the relay and could likely make the hand off in their sleep for as often as they practice the crucial exchange.
The state meet will mark the last time they will race the event together, as Williams and Anderson graduate.
Palo Alto goes in as the No. 10 seed. Roosevelt of the Southern Section is the fastest at 41.16 while Gilroy is No. 7 and Bellarmine is No. 9. No other section in the state has three teams among the top 10.
"We have a chance (to make finals)," Fung said. "That's all I asked for. If they run well, I think we can run under 42.00. I have confidence in these guys; we've got nothing to lose."
The Vikings have plenty to gain. One big carrot dangling out there is the 41.83 time that Cubberley High ran in 1979. That team, anchored by former 400-meter national recordholder Bill Green, ranks No. 10 all-time in CCS history and is No. 1 all-time in Palo Alto.
"We've got something to run for on Friday," Fung said.
Joining the relay team in Friday's prelims will be sophomore high jumper Victor Du. He finished fourth at CCS, losing a jump-off at 6-3. Du was added to the state roster when second-place finisher Dalyn Pacheco of Serra (6-5) decided to drop out.
Also competing this weekend at the State Meet will be Menlo-Atherton senior Stas Della Morte, Menlo School senior Sam Parker plus Gunn senior Erin Robinson and junior teammate Kieran Gallagher.
Della Morte won his first CCS title by taking the long jump at 22-10 1/2. He goes into Friday's prelims ranked 13th. The top qualifying mark is 24-10.
Williams, who finished second in the the 100 in 10.90, is seeded 19th for the 100 prelims.
Menlo's Parker also qualified for the state meet for the first time in his specialty with his second-place finish in the 800 in a time of 1:57.27. That makes him the No. 27 seed in the prelims, with No. 1 being 1:50.50.
Gunn's Robinson earned a second straight trip to the finals of the 3,200 after taking second at CCS in 10:48.86. That was just off her personal best of 10:48.79 ran at last year's CCS finals. She ranks No. 18 going into Saturday's finals-only race where the fastest qualifier brings a 10:24.35 time.
Gallagher earned her second berth at the State Meet despite taking fourth in the 800 at CCS in 2:16.02. She moved on when the top two finishers dropped the 800 in order to focus on the 1,600. Gallagher is the No. 25 seed in the prelims, where the top time is 2:06.18.