The Menlo School boys and girls battled their counterparts at Sacred Heart Prep as last year's West Bay Athletic League Track and Field Championships. It was a battle the Knights won as they swept the team titles.
While Menlo has a shot at another sweep at Saturday's league finals at Gunn High, the girls may be on target but not the boys.
Following last weekend's preliminaries, the Menlo girls appear in good shape to defend even though it could be close again. The Knights held off Notre Dame-San Jose by just 1.5 points last season while coming from behind.
Menlo junior Maddy Price was a double-winner last year, in the 400 and 800, but she'll be doubly busy Saturday when field events get under way at 9:30 a.m., with running events starting at 10 a.m.
Price has qualified in four events 100, 200, 400 and shot put. She is the Central Coast Section leader in both the 200 (24.50) and 400 (55.67), but trails Harker's Isabelle Connell in the 100 (12.22 to 12.26) and was fourth in the shot put qualifying in her first-ever attempt in the event.
The 100 and 400 also are close together, which makes winning both all the more difficult. Price, however, is a huge favorite in the one-lapper.
Menlo hurdlers McKenzie Duffner and Laura Gradiska should score high in both races as should freshman Zoe Enright in the 1,600 and 3,200. Duffner, another freshman, also was the No. 3 qualifier in the 200 and No. 4 in the 100, while freshman Lauren Henske will be battling for a top-three finish in the long jump and a CCS berth that goes with it.
Other local girls vying for berths in the CCS semifinals, set for May 18 at Gilroy High, include Pinewood sophomore Nicole Colonna in the 800 and 1,600, Priory freshman Maria Naclerio in the 800, Sacred Heart Prep sophomore Gillian Belton in the 800 and 1,600, SHP senior Ally Bellack in the high jump, Pinewood freshman Chloe Eackles in the high jump, Pinewood senior Daisy Alvarado-Munoz in the discus and Menlo's Morgan Dressel in the shot put.
The WBAL title in the boys' meet looks to be between Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo. The Gators appear to have the inside track heading into the finals and should dethrone the Knights barring some major upsets.
The Gators are led by senior Nico Robinson, who could win as many as four events 110 high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles, long jump and high jump. The last event may be the toughest to win as Robinson will be competing against teammate Cameron Van. Robinson, however, can dominate in the other three.
He ranks No. 3 in the CCS in the high hurdles (14.73), No. 3 in the long jump (22-8 1/2) and No. 4 in the 300 IH (39.43).
SHP's Ricky Grau is right behind Robinson in both hurdles while SHP senior Jhed Yuzon will battle for titles in the shot put and discus.
Menlo senior Max Parker was the top qualifier in the 400 (50.42) and is the favorite. The Knights are also favored in the 400 and 1,600 relays while Walter Peacock will provide big points in the 100, 200 and long jump and Paul Touma will do likewise in both the long and triple jumps.
Priory sophomore Ross Corey was the No. 1 qualifier in the 800 and was No. 2 in the 1,600.
At the PAL Championships on Saturday at Terra Nova in Pacifica, the Menlo-Atherton boys and girls will attempt to move up from last year's third-place finishes.
After three finals that were held last week during the prelims, however, the M-A girls are in eighth with five points while the boys are seventh with seven. Hector Santana was third in the boys' triple jump at 41-0 3/4 and Naomi Tovar finished fourth in the girls' long jump at 15-6 1/4 to lead M-A scorers.
Senior George Baier leads the Bears in the 800 and 1,600 while Kadri Green was the No. 1 qualifier in the 300 IH at last weekend's trials. Zach Plante should provide big points in the 200 and 400 be
For the M-A girls, Annalisa Crowe, Taylor Fortnam and Madeleine Baier lead the distance crew. Crowe was the No. 2 qualifier in both the 800 and 1,600. Miranda Simes, Cassie Stansberry and Annie Harrier give M-A six qualifiers in the 100, 200 and 400.
On Friday night, the top athletes at Gunn and Palo Alto will compete at the SCVAL Championships at Los Gatos High, featuring the top qualifiers from the De Anza and El Camino Division finals. Field events begin at 4:30 p.m., with running at 5 p.m.
The Palo Alto boys and Gunn girls are both coming off team titles at the SCVAL De Anza Division Championships.