Locals run to team and individual honors at section finals


Palo Alto senior Lucas Matison started it off and Pinewood senior Nicole Colonna finished it at the 2014 Central Coast Section Championships in cross country at Saturday at Toro Park in Salinas.

From the first race to the last, three local teams qualified for the CIF State Meet and eight runners earned trips as individuals. In addition, there were four individual champions and Menlo School senior Lizzie Lacy clocked the No. 2 all-time mark for girls over the 3.0-mile layout.

State meet team qualifiers included the Palo Alto boys (second in Division I), the Sacred Heart Prep boys (third in Division IV) and the Priory girls (second in Division V).

Palo Alto and Priory had the best program finishes with a second- and fourth-place finish.

"Today truly was amazing," said Paly coach Kelsey Feeley. "I can't describe how proud I am of the boys. We set the goal to make it to the state meet at the beginning of the season and the boys rose to the occasion. The boys all had a game plan for the race and executed it perfectly."

The Vikings were led by senior Lucas Matison, who took home individual honors in Division I with a 15:39.9 clocking. He is Paly's first individual champion since Philip MacQuitty won Division II in 2007.

Matison's time was the fourth-fastest overall among all divisions on Saturday. The victory was especially rewarding since Matison missed last year's race due to injury. He qualified for the state meet as a sophomore while running for Carlmont.

"Lucas finishing first in the race was obviously the biggest factor in us taking second, but all seven of the boys are responsible for this feat," said Feeley. "Again, I am so very proud of the work the boys put into this season and am so happy they are being rewarded for it by moving on to the state meet."

Bellarmine took the Division I boys' title with 47 points with Palo Alto (116) holding off San Benito (121) as all three teams advanced. It was Paly's highest finish at CCS since 2008.

Matison continued his excellent season -- he also won the SCVAL El Camino Division title -- by posting a seven-second victory. Paly sophomore Kent Slaney really came through with a ninth-place finish of 16:06 after being seeded only 21st. Slaney has been running for only 3 1/2 weeks after breaking a toe at the start of the season.

Palo Alto, seeded fourth coming into the finals, was in fourth place halfway through the race until have everyone behind Matison move up. Naveen Pai was 25th in 16:42, Aaron Chandler took 26th in 16:56 and Kai Oda was 58th in 17:24 to wrap up Paly's scoring.

The Sacred Heart Prep boys, meanwhile, qualified for the state meet for the first time and the Priory girls finished second to earn a berth, as well.

SHP scored 91 points to trail heavy favorite King City (32) and Scotts Valley (57). The Gators held off Half Moon Bay (121) and Seaside (163), two teams figured to keep SHP out of the state meet. SHP senior Daniel Hill led his team in seventh (16:07) with Garrett Mack taking 13th (16:26), August Howell 15th (16:30), Sasha Novitsky 20th (16:56) and Brett Anstrom 41st (17:28).

"The team was very excited," said SHP coach Ken Wilner. "They established the goal of qualifying for the state meet this spring during track season. We were seeded third going into Saturday's race. I did not think we could get King City and knew we would have to have all five scorers peaking to challenge Scotts Valley. The battle for the third slot was among Seaside, Half Moon Bay and us. We were confident that if we ran as a team like we had all season, we would be going to Woodward Park Thanksgiving weekend. Our goal is to crack the top 10 at the state meet."

Menlo School freshman Robert Miranda was 11th in 16:22, earning an individual berth to the state meet.

"Robert ran a very smart and controlled race and, while he was seeded in the high teens, he finished 11th, which shows maturity as a runner which is surprising since he's a freshman," said Menlo coach Jorge Chen. "He's the only freshman boy to qualify to state from the CCS as an individual and, obviously, (has) the fastest time by a freshman boy in CCS."

The Priory girls, meanwhile, scored 62 points while chasing Crystal Springs (24) to the finish line. Hana Marsheck led Priory in fifth place (20:19 with teammate Maria Naclerio finishing 11th in 21:46. Priory's Sarah Halabe was 15th in 22:28, Yuju Shin was 21st in 22:59 and Anjali Eichbaum 31st in 24:02.

Colonna successfully defended her Division V section title by clocking 18:58 to earn an individual berth the state meet. Joining her will be teammate Helena Merk, who was fourth in 20:03.

The other individual champions were Gunn junior Gillian Meeks in Division I and Menlo's Lacy in Division IV.

Lacy was the fastest girl in all divisions on the day and remains No. 1 in the CCS this season. Her 17:21.91 ranks second all-time on the course to the 17:16 clocked by Gunn's Tori Tyler in 2004. It also was a full minute faster than Lacy's previous best on the course, an 18:22 from Oct. 18 and was equal to her 17:00.8 from the WBAL Championships at Crystal Springs.

"Lizzie was off the charts," said Chen. "I credit this all to Lizzie's own hard work during the offseason and building from there during the season. Also, Lizzie is extremely coachable as she constantly gives me feedback on how she's doing and thus making it easier for me to proceed.

"Lizzie continues to write her name in the record books and it'll be fun to see how she does in the State meet in a couple of weeks."

Meeks, meanwhile, had the No. 2 overall time (17:59) while winning the Division I title -- her first section crown. The time by Meeks ranks No. 3 in school history on the course, behind Tyler and Sarah Robinson's 17:50, and No. 11 all-time.

Following Meeks to the finish line was senior teammate Emily Aiken in 18:42 as the Titans finished third in the Division I race behind Homestead and Monta Vista. However, only the top two teams earned berths to the state meet. That left Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer with mixed feelings.

"Shouldn't be upset," Plumer said. "CCS champion (Meeks), new school record (for team time on the course), but we don't make state? Just hard to stomach. As it is, we have to compete against schools that are much larger, and then CIF makes it harder for us to get there. I feel bad for my team, but really proud of them!"

Plumer said berths to the state meet are determined by he CIF and based primarily on how the section does at the meet.

"We (the CCS) typically don't do that well because our numbers are so skewed against us -- CCS is one of the bigger sections but our schools are typically smaller," Plumer explained. "Very frustrating. We knew all season, one very good team was going to be left home, and unfortunately we lost this game of musical chairs . . . And, CIF has the ability to add another spot to a section (there is space at Woodward Park), but chose not to 'give' it to CCS."

Also advancing to the state meet was Priory's Ross Corey and Robert Screven. Corey was third in the Division V race in 16:55 with Screven fourth in 17:00. The Panthers finished fourth as a team, missing a trip to the state meet by one spot.

The Palo Alto girls also finished fourth as a team, in Division I. The Vikings had 151 points with junior Bryn Carlson leading the way in 11th place in 19:15. Menlo-Atherton was fifth with 153 points with Katie Beebe taking 15th in 19:46.

The Menlo-Atherton boys were seventh in Division I with Adam Scandlyn 24th in 16:41 to pace the Bears.

The Gunn boys were 10th in Division I with Ryan Araghi running 17:02 for 40th to lead the Titans.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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